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 | By Nancy Rosebush Schertzing

For Rocio, 'God gives opportunities every day to see his face in others’

“I have always known God is with me,” Rocio says simply. “My grandma used to tell us children the most wonderful stories. As I grew older and attended Mass, I realized many of the readings were the stories my Tita gave us!

“I loved God so much, at 10, I decided I wanted to be a nun. As I grew, my love for God never wavered, but at 15 I met a boy, and thought about changing my life’s goal so I could love God and a family of my own.” She smiles.

“Though my life path changed, my love for the Lord didn’t. I get such joy from serving others in his name, no matter what my jobs. During high school, I waited tables in my Uncle Mario’s restaurant. Shortly after I graduated, Felipe Vazquez came into my life, and I knew he was the one with whom I would grow old. We only dated three weeks before we started planning our wedding.

“During our engagement, I used to pray, ‘God, I really love this man, but I will not be with him if he does not love you as I do.’ When we had a chance to attend a Cursillo, I encouraged him to come with me. During the retreat, God revealed to Felipe all the ways his love ran throughout his life. And Felipe fell in love with God as I had in my childhood.

“I knew God had given me the man I would build a life with. After the Cursillo, Felipe went to Mexico to ask my family for my hand in marriage.

“My father came to Adrian for our wedding, but Uncle Mario and my aunt and cousins were the only family we had. Our guests were my customers from the restaurant. Felipe’s family could not join us, but we celebrated with such joy!

“Our daughters were born from that love. Fabiola came along three years after our wedding, then Ariana and Lily. Fabi now has a given us a granddaughter and another child to welcome soon. Felipe has a daughter from his previous marriage who also has three beautiful children.

“God guides and I follow. He gives me opportunities every day, every minute, to see his face in others and to help where I can. This was especially clear when our daughter Ari was one. She had been exposed to severe lead poisoning when we went to visit family in Mexico. She almost died.” Rocio’s eyes fill with tears remembering that time.

“Ari is a college student now and is doing well. But her illness led me to spend a lot of time in medical clinics. When patients had questions, especially those who didn’t understand English, I helped by translating care instructions and directions, giving them information about rules and regulations. I loved being of service in those dark times.

“When Ari regained her strength, the director of my health clinic asked if I would work for them part-time. They trained me as a medical assistant, taking blood pressure, helping patients fill out paperwork, translating as I had done before.

“God was watching! He puts people in my path and gives us opportunities to love him by helping and loving others.

“Life was busy and full of happiness. We raised our daughters and were involved in our church. I read the Lord’s word during Mass, sang in the choir and served Communion at Holy Family, formerly St. Mary’s in Adrian. Outside of Mass, I participated in the Guadalupe Society and migrant ministry. There were so many ways to serve the Lord!

“When our youngest daughter, Lily, was seven she began acting out of character – getting very angry. I took her to the clinic, and her doctor sent us for tests.

“Throughout, I kept telling them they were wrong. Even as the biopsy clearly indicated cancer, I denied to the doctors that our sweet child had it. But I knew that I do not change things and I do not change people. God is in control.

“He had given us Lily, and he would need a reason to take her away. I prayed, ‘Lord, you gave Lily to me, and she is yours. But if we can have her a little longer’ . . .”  Rocio’s voice drops to a hoarse whisper as tears fall roll down her cheeks. “We asked our parish and families for prayers. She was so very sick.

“Eventually, Lily needed a transfusion, which seemed to revive her enough for us to go home until the next biopsy. As we sat in the doctor’s office waiting for the results, it took a very long time. Finally, the doctor came. ‘I don’t know where to start.’ He said, ‘I’m sorry for the delay, but we had to go back to make sure we actually had Lily’s biopsy and not someone else’s. This bone marrow is completely different from her earlier biopsy.’

“I told him, ‘I’m very sorry God had to confuse you, Doctor. But he was working on a miracle for us.’ After that, Lily has been on a schedule of regular check-ups and is completely free of cancer. Once a year, she sees her oncologist for a check-up, but today she is a beautiful, strong 19-year-old.

“Through that ordeal, and a total of 13 years, I have had the privilege of serving God as the office coordinator and receptionist at St. Mary Parish – Holy Family now. I serve Holy Family as office coordinator, and I have outreach duties to love and support our [newly merged] parishioners and those outside our church who need help. My eyes are opening to what God has in store for me, and it keeps me happy.

“My favorite Bible passage comes from St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy (2TM 4:6-8). I hope it sums up my life:

For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.”

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