Connie Saavedra’s love of the Jesuits may have started overseas soon after her birth.
“I think that my Jesuit connection started when I was baptized by a Jesuit priest, Rev. Paul Greck, SJ in my hometown in the Philippines,” says Saavedra.
While her spiritual formation was greatly influenced by other religious orders like the missionary Maryknoll Sisters, Dominican Fathers, and Opus Dei, the Jesuits were always nearby.
Saavedra’s last workplace before moving to Canada was near an international management school that had a chapel. There, weekday Masses at Noon were celebrated by a Jesuit priest, which gave Saavedra an opportunity to attend Mass during lunch.
“Being active in my Catholic community helps keep my Catholic faith alive and meaningful,” says Saavedra, who is also a cancer survivor.
Since coming to Canada, Saavedra says her family has been blessed to be members of the Jesuit parish, Our Lady of Lourdes (OLOL) Toronto. There she has been active in every possible way. She volunteered with her youngest daughter in the parish’s social ministry, she was a church welcomer and a volunteer at the parish tax clinic. She has attended seminars and programs like Alpha, Life in the Spirit Seminar, and the Christian Life Program by Couples for Christ. She is currently an auxiliary member of the Legion of Mary and a member of Handmaids of the Lord Ministry. The devout widow and her late husband Elpidio instilled Catholic values in their now adult children Joseph John, Mary Josephine, and Marianne Joyce. When they were younger, they were active altar servers and choir members.
“Prayers are the best gifts one can give and receive,” says the retired Saavedra. “I discovered a wellspring of God’s blessings from the cards I give to family members, relatives, friends and others I come across who are in dire need of prayers.”
Saavedra is referring to the Jesuit enrolment cards for all occasions including birthdays, funerals, Christmas, Easter, gratitude, and healing. The Jesuits pray for the stated intentions of the donors and Saavedra says she has received thanksgiving and good news of healing/granted petitions from the card recipients.
“I am also glad that my small donations for these cards help support Jesuits in formation, working in apostolic ministry, or the ministry of prayer in their senior years,” she adds.
The prayerful Saavedra is inspired and encouraged by stories of conversion and sainthood, like the life story of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
“The inspirational teachings of St. Ignatius lead to an awareness of God’s presence in daily life and a realization of God’s great mercy and love,” she says. “They provide a guide to daily decisions and actions to serve God.”
She and her family have also visited Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, ON and adds: “Stories of martyrdom and self-sacrifice for conversions to the Catholic faith, like the story of the Canadian Jesuit martyrs are uplifting stories that strengthen one’s faith.”