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Rev Mr. John A Sistare
Naples Navy Base Apostolate
Carmelita’s Story  (based upon 2 Cor 4: 6 –11)


Recently I received an article from my brother in the United States. It was a story of a woman with incredible faith and trust in God. At the age of 40, Carmelita Margand was a young wife with three children. Her first child was a son named Joey. The second was a daughter named Marie Therese. Two weeks before the birth of Marie Therese, Carmelita was diagnosed with breast cancer. So after the birth, she underwent a radical masectomy and treatments to eliminate the cancer. All went well and the news of a third child came. However, as fast as the joy of another pregnancy came so did the news that the cancer, due to a hormonal imbalance of the pregnancy, had returned. The doctors recommended that she terminate this pregnancy. Without terminating the pregnancy, the chances of survival would be zero to none. However, thanks be to God, Carmelita rejected their advice and said absolutely no to abortion. In fact, she was quoted as saying, "I turned everything over to God and I am happy, at peace" She did not just sit back and ignore the cancer. She sought treatment but all the while made sure there was no harm done to the child in the womb. In fact some treatment was rather extensive and required going to Germany to do so. In June of 1998, Bernadette was finally born and more aggressive treatment could be sought. However, in Sept. 1998 at 4:25 am, her husband, John, witnessed her last three breaths. At the same time, incredibly, the new baby, Bernadette, woke up, cried, looked up and suddenly went back to sleep. Her husband said it best afterwards, "Simply put, Mely, as we called her, died so she could give life."

My brothers and sisters, this is a heavy message for us today. However, it fits so well with our second reading by St. Paul to the Corinthians. St. Paul said, "we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, full of doubts but never despair…and struck down but not destroyed."

Carmelita had all that! She was afflicted, certainly full of doubts and struck down, but she was not crushed, destroyed nor driven to despair. In fact, she had, as St Paul says later on, "the life of Jesus revealed in our mortal flesh." The life of Jesus…? A life that was one of sacrifice, self denial and constantly putting the will of the Father first and foremost. A life that climaxed with a death on a cross so others may have life. That is who Carmelita followed! She gave life so another may have life following our Lord’s example. She trusted in the promise of eternal life!

"if God wants me, we must trust in God", Carmelita was quoted as saying. She believed what she in the Gospel message of eternal life. She believed there was something beyond this earthly life.

My brothers and sisters, lent is coming fast and this Wednesday is Ash Weds. Lent is a perfect time to refocus our lives and see what’s most important. Certainly it is a time to fast and do penance. However, drawing close to Jesus is the most important thing. That’s what all the self disciplines are for, to draw closer to Christ. It is a time to value what’s truly important in our life, namely Jesus and our neighbors. This lent, we are called to focus on the Cross, on which Jesus died upon to give us life. We are called to go beyond the cross though. We have to go beyond Good Friday and continue to Easter Sunday. We are called to hope in the Resurrection. That is what Carmelita did. She was woman of hope and trust and believed in the promise of eternal life.

In closing, I leave you with the words of Carmelita’s husband, John. "My wife has totally amazed me, the way she has put the will of God foremost. Sometimes I feel like a spectator in this dialogue between her and God."

May we put the will of God foremost this lent and keep our eyes fixed on Our Blessed Lord, whom died so we may have life, eternal life which has been promised to us all.


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