Eighteen years ago, I left my family, most of my heart’s desires and a life in Los Angeles to become a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word.  My only intentions and motivations were to give up everything to follow Jesus Christ in the way of St. Francis of Assisi.  Little did I know that God would give me several of my heart’s desires.  The most special among them are the sisters and daughter I wanted.  Three saints interceded and intervened to make this happen.

On May 4 1968, my parents’ first child, a baby girl was stillborn.  While growing up, my dad, mom, brother and I always visited her grave for her birthday and holidays.  We knew she was with us and prayed for us.  This made me wonder how life would be with sisters.  I wanted them but my mother couldn’t have more children.  A few years before I entered religious life, my mom asked me to give her a granddaughter.  I wanted to give her one and wanted a daughter too, but God had other plans.

Throughout the years I’ve been blessed with many amazing female saint and spiritual sisters, and spiritual daughters.  About 16 years ago I was given a first-class relic of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Theresa of the Child Jesus (a.k.a. St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Theresa the Little Flower).  These two holy women also became my sisters.  I relied heavily on their intercession when my mother passed, during my seminary years and my early years of priesthood.  Over time, I forgot about their relics and did not ask for their prayers as often.  Three or four years ago, I was given a first-class relic of St. Bernadette and eventually forgot that I had it as well.

In January of 2018, I frequently visited my good friend Mary’s sick child, Isaac in the hospital.  She was always accompanied by her younger sister, Ann.   At one of the visits while speaking with her, I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m old enough to be her father.  She would make a wonderful daughter; I’d like her to be my daughter.”  I had never thought about anyone in that way.  The three of us quickly bonded.  They soon started to call me their big brother.  I kept the part about wanting Ann as my daughter a secret.  Our relationship strengthened much through the years.   They feel like real sisters and Ann a daughter too. Both are bright, kind, generous, gracious, and a little silly.  What amazes me is they have similar personality traits and mannerisms of my deceased mother.  I’m grateful to God for them.  I sometimes wondered how this happened.  The Lord answered!

A few months ago, Fr. John Paul and I were visiting a family.  They showed us their relic collection.  It made me think of my forgotten relics of Saints Catherine and Theresa.  At that moment I realized that had I forgotten them, but they did not forget me.  They gave me my new sisters, Mary and Ann.  I immediately remembered that Mary’s middle name is Catherine and Ann’s is Theresa.  This revelation astounded me!  Then I prayed and thanked God but said to Him, “You’ve given me sisters, but what about Ann and my sentiments of her being a daughter?”  Three days later, I found a small box in my room.  I opened it and inside was the first-class relic of St. Bernadette.  Then I remembered, Ann’s confirmation name is Bernadette!    I’m so thankful to God, St. Catherine, St. Theresa and St. Bernadette for giving me these lovely women I’m proud to call my sisters and Ann a daughter.   Through the intercession of the three saints the Lord gave me my heart’s desires of having sisters and a daughter.  I think my mom and sister living in eternity were involved in this too.  Praise the Lord!

Jesus said,  “Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18:29).  The Lord is faithful! He keeps his promises and answers our prayers in ways we never expect.

-Fr. Leonard Mary, MFVA

17 thoughts on “God and Three Saints Gave Me My Heart’s Desires

  1. A beautiful and inspiring story. It is really wonderful that we have powerful intercessors and guides in heaven.

  2. Saint Terese’s intercession is so powerful ! She is responsible for bringing me back into the Church after a 5 year lapse. The time I spent doing RCIA seemed to take forever, but on the night I was able to once again receive Holy Communion I was so happy !

  3. No coincidences, Gods plan for you is perfect! He expanded your heart with the love for sisters and a daughter. Family is everything!

  4. The good Lord has done the same for myself. I kept ‘complaining’ about no family members, much like that persistent widow to the judge -HE kept hearing the same prayer over and over and then said to HIMSELF, “you want family, I will give you more than you asked for”. Next thing I knew, some family members of my late husband in UK revealed themselves to me and have since visited in Nova Scotia etc. More is hx as they say. Love you Fr. Leonard.

  5. W O W ! I absolutely loved this heart-warming story! Isn’t it amazing just how patient, yet persistent, God is? The intricate details of your story weave the most beautiful of tapestries! Thank you for sharing from your heart, Father Leonard. And congratulations on your beloved sisters and daughter! God is SO good! 🥰❤️✝️

  6. Fr Leonard I love your homilies and love this as well. Beautiful and touching. You bring so much comfort during these difficult times. God bless!

  7. Such a beautiful and miracle kind of story! Have a Blessed Day! ps. You’re not Fr. Mark Mary is it? It surely looks like you though..

  8. Love this, God bless you Father Leonard, sending love & prayers to you for the recent loss of your Father❤️

  9. My Eternal brother, fr. Leonard Mary, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about being my spiritual director, as you understand me spiritually I see while I have watched you speak at Masses on EWTN. In fact, it seems from hearing them that all of the priests very much know and are truly in Love with Jesus that I see on EWTN. I feel my Pa-pa Jesus’ LOVE All the time, including my Momma Mary’s LOVING Comfort and Grace… my soul is always burning with Their LOVE. My spiritual charism is the same as my Sister Saint Therese, child-like spirituality, which I didn’t even know until I was delightfully surprised while reading her books, Story of a Soul & The Little Way of Saint Therese of Lisieux. I always smell her scent about 85% of the time, a deep exuberance of roses while praying her Litany and/or talking/reading to/about her. Although we came from very different family backgrounds, and although I was REborn whereas she felt Called since childhood, we have the same child-like spirituality, as I so delight in being little, as I am my Pa-pa’s and my Mommy Mary’s little one. I Love the Virtue of Humility and it is who I am, and my spirit feels amazing being little, being a child, spiritually snuggling in my Holy Parent’s euphoric LOVE, I feel so consoled and I feel this is my place, that I found my place to be in the Hearts of Pa-pa Jesus and Mommy Mary… I often envision myself so tiny as to fit in the Palms of Their Hands, as to sit on Their Shoulders, and I Always feel Them Holding me; oh such indescribable LOVE, which is something I never had in life until I knew my Holy Eternal Family. I’d Love to share with you my life and my contemplative gifts of LOVE and enlightenments which gave me knowledge, of knowing God through Feeling Him. Also, I’d Love to get some direction from you: I’ve tried to join congregations to become a Religious sister but was told that I am too old (now I am 43). I found a belated vocation cloistered congregation out-of-state, but now I am not in good physical condition in a wheelchair dealing with medical still; God is teaching me the Virtue of Patience and I have grown so much from this thus far, and will now also include staying close to Christ during times of disability in my autobiography which has how before I suffered from chronic depression, anxiety, fear, I self-medicated to numb myself… all until I felt the LOVE of Jesus and found my true identity as His little daughter… I now also have dignity and integrity, I feel now what TRUE LIFE IS: JESUS & MOMMY MARY (ROSARY:)
    I have been writing some about this on my public page:

    If you do not do spiritual directing for some reason, please ask the other priests, as I can tell that they Love Jesus, and to Love Him is to know Him. I appreciate it so much, thank you & GOD BLESS:)

    Warm Regards,

    Shannon D. Hensley

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