During my time in the The ESM Rome (2015-2016), I discovered how true is the idiom “all roads lead to Rome.” You never know who you will come across on the Eternal City’s warmed pavements. This was the case the day before Pentecost when I met Marie-Catherine, a fellow Community sister from Lourdes, France. We were two among our other 1,000 international EC brothers and sisters who gathered in Rome that June weekend to pray with thousands of universal charismatics and Pope Francis. Up until that point, I had been meandering around for a sunny lunch spot, praying that The Holy Spirit would lead me to whomever He wished me to encounter – and right away I found myself unexpectedly crossing paths with Marie-Catherine.
Little was I aware of all that God had planned on revealing to me through this encounter with wonderful Marie-Catherine; both of us recognized the presence of The Holy Spirit quite soon into the exchange. After a while into introductions, I shared with Marie-Catherine that I was from St. Louis, Missouri in The USA. At this information, she cracked with joy, and immediately began to share with me of her dear friends, Maurice and Marie Geli of The Community in France. She soon revealed that the Geli family would be moving to St. Louis in mid-July for Maurice’s work. This extraordinary news hit me with the faithfulness of God to my prayers, on so many levels!
Through this Pentecost exchange, God once again revealed Himself to be truly a good Father. Up until that point of Pentecost 2017, I had been living in Europe for two years, the first of which I studied at the ESM Rome. It was during that beautiful year that I discovered the Emmanuel Community and took my first step. Then, this past year I moved to Lyon, France where I studied French and participated in the youth sector of The Community that is present in there. However, since I had taken my first step at the ESM I had been praying that The Holy Spirit would eventually bring The Emmanuel Community to St. Louis, my hometown. Even if I couldn’t be there to help establish it, I knew that the charisms of The Community would be a gift to my city. Therefore, after the discovery of the arrival of the Geli family, I marveled at the evident union of The Lord’s will and this desire of mine.
Fast-forward to mid-July and I eventually made my way back to St. Louis and The United States for good- with the Geli family not far behind. I awaited them with much excitement, curious to find out where exactly they would be living in St. Louis. After an exchange of emails, I discovered that not only were Maurice, Marie, and their six children moving to the same city, but they would be living fifteen minutes from my parents’ home! This close presence of The Community I believe was an added blessing to the great plans that God had in store for the city of St. Louis.
After their arrival, The Geli family and I were able to have one dinner together (picture attached) in July before I made my way to Wyoming for the new academic year. That fraternal evening was a gift: we switched between speaking in French and English, experimented in making Arnold Palmer’s, and discussed proper American BBQ “etiquette”. Finally, before closing the evening, we gathered for a time of praise. We huddled around a small ukulele and my French copy of He is Alive!, since the house didn’t have proper lighting just yet.
In fact, the whole house was bare, except for a dining table and a few beds; this was due to the fact that their furniture wouldn’t arrive via boat for a couple of more months. It was in a similar way that each of the eight Gelis had sacrificed greatly, having left behind homeland, family, friends, language, the French Community, and les fromages français… Yet, even through all this the Geli family gave off a sense of confident hope in what lay ahead. They were greatly excited for the mission the Lord was calling them to, whatever that may be. In this way, they were a vivid testimony of the abundant joy in self-abandonment to the Lord.
As for now, I am delighted to say that the Geli family has successfully attended an American BBQ, discovered commendable goat cheeses, and found a French-speaking confessor in St. Louis. I ask that you please pray for the mission that they are called to. At the same time, please pray for me as I currently fulfill the vocation of student at Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming, where I have began to study The Liberal Arts. Finally, please pray for the Holy Spirit’s impending work in St. Louis through The Community, in whatever way that may be.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus!