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‘The only place I found God’

July 1, 2020

Editor’s note: This is an installment of an ongoing series featuring how Catholics of the Diocese of Ogdensburg are living out their faith. To suggest an individual to be featured in this series, please call the North Country Catholic at 315-393-2920 or email dfargo@rcdony.org.

Darcy Fargo

WATERTOWN – After a journey of faith that took her through various Christian denominations, Anne Seegebarth said she has found her home and her identity in the Catholic Church.

“I am a Presbyterian, Baptist, non-denominational, Lutheran, Episcopal Catholic,” Seegebarth said. “I was raised Presbyterian. I went to a Baptist church in high school. I was active duty Army and attended non-denominational services when I was in the military. I married my husband and became Lutheran. I had problems with the Lutheran church and became Episcopalian. Along my journey there, I felt something was missing.”
Seegebarth said she then spent a summer “church shopping.”

“I went to the community church across the way, and I went to a Bible church,” she said. “I went to a Methodist church. I attended different services in a few different churches. The only place I found God was at the Catholic church.”

While she said the other churches she attended were friendly and inviting, Seegebarth said she felt God’s presence profoundly inside the doors of her local Catholic church.

“God was there,” she said. “It was a feeling I got. I knew he was there. I couldn’t say that about the other churches. Something was missing. They were friendly and faith-filled, but something was missing.”

Seegebarth said attending RCIA and learning about Jesus being physically present in the Eucharist cemented her belief that God was present in the Catholic Church.

“The Episcopal Church was sacramental, but even then, there were times they didn’t have the Eucharist, and they don’t believe in the real presence,” she said. “When I made my RCIA journey and realized that Catholics believe it’s the real presence, I discerned on that. I came to realize and believe that yes, this is the real presence.”

Prior to entering RCIA, Seegebarth said she relied on her faith to carry her through her divorce and raising two sons with developmental disabilities.

“My faith has gotten me through a divorce and helped me raise two sons with special needs on my own,” she said. “I could not have – I don’t like the word patience – but I couldn’t have the ability to do what I’ve done without my faith. It allows me to see God in all the little things and to see the times God has put wonderful people in my life to help me on my journey. I remember praying fervently to God when I was about to go through my divorce. I prayed that he was save my marriage. But he didn’t. I know now that if God had saved my marriage, I wouldn’t have the close loving relationship I have with him that I have now. He said ‘no’ to my prayer so I could have a better relationship with him.”

Seegebarth said the Cursillo movement and the friends she made through it have been instrumental in giving her strength and helping her continue growing her faith.

Cursillo, which translates to “short course,” is a lay movement that helps individual nurture their relationships with the Lord and share that relationship with others.

“The first time I went on a Cursillo weekend was May 2002,” she said. “It was through the Episcopal Church. My best friend, Deb, knew I was struggling with my divorce. She said I needed to go on a Cursillo weekend. I had every excuse under the sun why I couldn’t go. Best friends being best friends, she had the application filled out and basically said, “sign here,” and she took it. She took me down to the weekend. During those four days, I became so close to God.”

On the Friday night of Seegebarth’s Cursillo weekend, organizers held a healing service.

“After the service, they invited anyone up who wanted healing, and they dismissed everyone else,” she said. “For probably a half hour or more, I sat in the chair fighting with myself. It was like the angel and devil, one on each shoulder. I was thinking ‘I need to go up,’ then ‘no I don’t. I’m fine.’ I finally went up. I asked for healing of heart for my children and myself over the divorce. I felt God’s love enter into my heart and take all that pain and anguish away. I have never had anger or any other negative emotion related to the divorce since.”

Now actively involved in the Diocese of Ogdensburg Cursillo movement, Seegebarth said her Cursillo small group – a group of Cursillo participants who meet regularly to share faith – helps her stay grounded in her faith.

“A small group is a group of loving friends,” she said. “We’re all Cursillo Catholics helping each other on our Catholic walks. Each of us has a different walk, but we help each other, we support each other, and we’re there for each other. Yesterday, I had something happen that had me upset. I picked up the phone and called one of my small group members to talk me off the ledge. And she did.”

While she said participating in Cursillo helps her share her faith, Seegebarth noted that she tries to live her life as a witness.

“I try to live my faith every day of my life and every minute of my life,” said Seegebarth, who works on Fort Drum. “Everyone in the office knows I’m Catholic and a practicing Catholic. I try very hard not to swear. When you work through the military, it’s pretty common to hear sentences in which every other word is a swear word. My colleagues have come to realize I don’t appreciate that. They have changed because they know I’m a person of faith, and I don’t like it.”

She also said she continually turns to God to try to discover his path for her.

“I pray about God’s will,” Seegebarth said. “There’s many times God puts things in my life that I can say only happened because it was God’s will.”

For example, Seegebarth said a series of events occurred that led her to the orientation for Formation for Ministry, a program that helped her further develop her relationship with the Lord.

“That program strengthened my faith,” she said. “It helped me to understand a lot of the pieces of my faith. It helped me to understand that I do have charisms I received from God, what those charisms are and how to best utilize them.”

After the Formation for Ministry program, Seegebarth made a full circle, beginning to teach the same RCIA program that brought her into the Church.

“I think I have a different perspective than a lot of catechists,” she said. “I know some of the questions I had when I was in the RCIA process. I try to teach the answers to those questions. I think it helps me connect with the individuals going through that process. When they hear I was in their seat at one point, they sort of let the walls down.”

While she remains on her faith journey, Seegebarth said her Catholic faith has become critical to who she is, and she doesn’t see that changing any time soon.

“My faith makes me me,” she said. “It’s that simple. If I don’t have my faith, I’m not me.”

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