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‘Nothing is impossible with the Lord’

May 12, 2021

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 Jonathan Monfiletto
Contributing Writer

MORRISONVILLE – From the time she was in fifth grade to being widowed at 28 years old to her life now, Wanda Haby has always found a sense of community and support through her Catholic faith.

“Being in the community, you can share the teachings and practice service more than if you were doing this on your own,” she said, noting one’s fellow Catholics can keep one’s thoughts and faith focused and concrete through all of the distractions in the world.

And a sense of belonging is what Haby was looking for when she joined a Catholic youth group and a church when she was 11 years old. Though her father was Catholic and her mother was Baptist, her family never went to church. Haby found the youth group when it was advertised at her school.

She got involved with the youth group and then wanted to join the Church; her parents told her she could go as long as she found a ride to get there. From there, she joined the church choir; when she couldn’t get a ride, she walked to church.

“It was quite a walk sometimes,” Haby said, noting it was 2.5 miles from her home to the church. “As a young person back in the day, we could walk and it was not unheard of.”

Soon, she took it upon herself to attend classes with the goal of being baptized, and she convinced her sister to do the classes with her. The priest took the girls through the process over several months, and their mother showed up to church on the day they were baptized.

At age 37, Haby became an oblate for a St. Benedictine order.

Now, Haby said she lives her faith through her actions, “being awake to see the opportunities to help others,” she said.

“Every day, we’re provided opportunities where someone needs a kind word or they need help, even if it’s me as a professor [at SUNY Plattsburgh] with students,” she said. “I have a lot of advisees and students that just come to me and talk to me, and they just want a listening ear. Whether it’s that or getting them in touch with student services so they can have enough food to eat that week.”

Haby said she volunteers to work two shifts per week at the isolation and quarantine dormitory at SUNY Plattsburgh. In that role, she takes students snacks such as hot chocolate, hot tea, or ice cream, delivers meals to them, and makes sure they are doing OK.

“That’s all volunteer. It’s not something I have to do, but it’s something I guess you could call just a calling to help others,” she said. “It’s part of servitude and being of service to others. Not only kind deeds but also kind words or a kind tongue so to speak.”

Living her through her actions, Haby learned to rely on her faith and God’s love when her husband, who was in the military, died when she was 28 and left behind her and their two small children.

“It was very challenging being on my own. Where do I go in life, what direction do I go in, in a strange city in a state that I didn’t know,” she said. “You go through thoughts of the whole process of the grieving, the anger, what do I do. I had to be there for the kids and find a career and go to school, and I think if it wasn’t for strong faith and the powerful thought of love, God’s love, then I wouldn’t have gotten through all of that. I had to become a different person. That’s (faith) what helped guide me through that.”

Now Haby – who lives in Plattsburgh finds in her faith, community, and support through her Cursillo group that meets virtually every Wednesday for an hour and on Fridays twice a month. She is also part of a Scripture study group with some colleagues that meets virtually on Tuesdays.

Attending Mass and acting as the music director at St. Alexander’s Church in Morrisonville, Haby said music is a huge part of her life and her faith.

“Music has always been a part of my life,” she said. “That’s what drew me into the church when I was young. It started when I was 11 years old singing in a choir, and I’ve been directing choirs since I was 19 years old.”
Haby said prayer is also “very important” to her life and her faith.

“Nothing is impossible with the Lord,” she said, referring to prayer as the “living water” that Jesus Christ offers us. “Your prayers can be answered.”

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