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‘He put me where He wanted me to be’

September 16, 2020

Editor’s note: The following 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.

By Darcy Fargo

OGDENSBURG – “I see what Jesus went through on the cross, and I can’t believe He went through that, and I can’t believe his mother had to go through that with him,” said Lorraine Carney of Ogdensburg. “Seeing that, I know Jesus and his mother love me – love us all. I know I can put my trust in Him, and it brings me peace to know that He’s always there for me.”

Carney, who attends Notre Dame Church in Ogdensburg, said she was raised in her Catholic faith as a child in western Pennsylvania.

“I’m a cradle Catholic,” she said. “Growing up, we went to church every week, and we went to religion class. My grandmother worked in a Catholic hospital, and she worked with a lot of nuns. She was always talking to the nuns and introduced us to the nuns. As I got older, I still went to church all the time, and I did my duties as a Catholic – I went to church every week, went to confession and received Communion.”

Despite her Catholic upbringing, Carney said she really began to grow in her knowledge and love of her Catholic faith when she decided to bring her daughter to Family Guggenheim.

“I ended up being the single parent of one daughter, Kristin,” she said. “We saw an announcement for Family Guggenheim in the church bulletin. I took the bulletin home, read it over, and decided, ‘let’s try that.’ I called, and I got the form, and I signed us up. The only weekend that was available was the fall weekend. We ended up going.”

Carney said she first felt out of place at the camp experience, but later became inspired by faith and knowledge of the other campers and staff.

“There were a couple other single parents, but it was mostly large families,” she said. “At first, it felt kind of odd. I was the only one there with only one child, and I had no husband with me. But we really liked it. We enjoyed the music, everyone held hands while they prayed, they had a theme song, there were workshops and free time. I really liked it, and my daughter did, too. We kept going back. I sometimes felt odd, but I kept going back.”

After a few years, Carney and her daughter were invited to serve on the camp staff.

“I remember when I first got on staff, I would just listen to the other people on staff coming up with ideas,” she said. “It always felt like they knew so much more than I knew about the Bible. They’d come up with these ideas, and I didn’t even know what they were talking about. I’d have to go home and look it up. I got to where I wanted to know more about the Bible and my faith.”

Carney then joined the Women of Grace program at what is now St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish.

“I learned a lot in that program,” she said. “We did Women of Grace, we read a few of Johnnette Benkovic (Williams’) books, and we did four or five programs through Formed. With each program, I’d learn some more.”

Eventually, Carney decided to participate in the Formation for Ministry program and become a Commissioned Lay Minister.

“I learned so much in those classes,” she said. “It’s really made me want to keep learning more and absorbing more.”

In addition to expanding her knowledge of the faith, Carney said she’s continuously trying to grow her relationship with the Lord.

“I pray every night,” she said. “I thank God for my family and my health, and I pray for my daughter and grandbabies. I pray the rosary. As a mother, I really relate to Mary. I’m hoping to find a kneeler. I feel like it would help me pray even more. I need that quiet place and that place set aside for prayer.”

Her relationship with the Lord has helped her throughout her life, Carney said.

“In my second year of college, my father died. He was electrocuted,” she said. “I remember my faith helping me through that.”

Carney’s faith also helped her when she struggled to find a job for a period of time.

“I lost my job last October,” she said. “It was the first time I had ever lost a job. I was applying like crazy, but we were getting through November, December and January, and still nothing. I remember praying and saying,

‘Lord, it’s up to you. You’re going to give me what you think I should have and show me where I should be.’ And I didn’t worry or stress about it, and I’ve always been a worry wart. I ended up working at Catholic Charities. He put me where He wanted me to be.”

As she’s grown in her faith, and through those experiences, Carney said she has found peace in the Lord.

“My faith gives me peace and calm even when I don’t find peace and calm in the world,” she said. “And I’ve found people I can share my faith with.”

While she has grown in her faith and trust, as well as her knowledge of the faith, over the years, Carney said she’s not done yet.

“I’m like a sponge,” she said. “I want to keep learning and growing and understanding what I don’t know. I want to keep learning and keep on with my faith. Hopefully it grows stronger, too.”

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