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A testimony by Denise Fahrion

During my six months of On Fire, I was deepening my relationship with Jesus and at the same time, had an unexpected parallel journey with a friend of mine who was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancerous tumor. Looking back, the Lord was guiding me through On Fire so I could have the strength, direction, and heart to walk with a dear friend during her difficult journey.

Little did I know that my journey of faith would be tested. I was asking God what He had in store for me. Never in a million years would I have imagined the difficult trial that would come my way.

My friend Andrea received word that a sarcoma was growing inside of the left ventricle of her heart and that open heart surgery was necessary to remove it. The surgery went well, however, within a short time it had regrown. Andrea accepted the doctor’s plan of intense chemo to hopefully dissolve the tumor. I immediately encouraged her to sit in the grotto chapel in adoration to our Lord, asking for His support and clarity in why she was asked to carry such a heavy cross.

Andrea grew up in a Baptist home led by her mother. She had slipped away from her faith and was not familiar with the traditions of the Catholic faith, nor was she aware of Eucharistic Adoration. But she trusted me and graciously accepted the invitation to sit in the grotto chapel.

As she poured out her heart to Jesus, asking forgiveness for alienating Him during her adult life, she envisioned receiving the Eucharist and slipping it inside of the hole in her heart where the initial tumor had been removed. She felt great peace inside of her and felt so on fire for our Lord that she wanted to become Catholic!

The next day, as we sat at her kitchen table, she shared her new found love of our Lord. She asked if it was ok that she envisioned receiving the Eucharist in this way. I exclaimed “of course”! I immediately connected her with a priest I knew. They met a few days later and after a great conversation, he offered to fast track her to be received into the Church because of her dire situation.

As all of this was unfolding for Andrea, my landlord threatened to terminate my office lease over a simple disagreement about the air quality in the building. This hit me so hard that it threw me into a panic attack … something that I had never experienced. My initial instinct was to argue with the landlord to prove my point, but as I listened to the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit, I was instructed to “let it go”. As with many things in my life, I asked the Holy Spirit to guide me to new office space. Within a few days, He led me to Angelo, whose name means Divine Messenger from God; Angelo welcomed me to sign a lease in a healthier environment.

Andrea’s chemo was eventually stopped. It wasn’t working. She told me she was in a good place physically and spiritually. She was received into the Church. Privately, she celebrated the sacrament of Reconciliation, then just the 3 of us sat in her living room, celebrating the sacraments, First Holy Communion, Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick.

After receiving communion, Andrea felt relief as if to say “It is finished”. The Latin word for this is Viaticum: food for the journey. Within 24 hours, her health exponentially declined. She was transferred to hospice. The next morning, I woke to singing the song as plain as day “Angel of the Morning” by Juice Newton. I arrived at hospice later that morning to find Andrea sleeping from deep sedation. I sat with her for many hours, praying with her, trusting that she was aware of my presence. That evening, she was offered the Apostolic Pardon.

The next morning, 9 weeks after her conversion with Jesus in the grotto chapel, God received Andrea into her eternal resting place. On that same day of Andrea’s passing, I received word from Angelo, my Divine Messenger from God, “it is finished” … he had completed the buildout of my new office space and he welcomed me to close one chapter and begin the next. One week later, On Fire concluded.

Pondering the beauty of this grace, I didn’t understand at the time that Jesus was preparing me to accompany Andrea on an intense spiritual transformation for the salvation of her soul. He walked me through the trials and shared the graces of this mission. Without my faith, surrender and trust in Him, I would have collapsed under the stress, but instead led to a magnificent completion. Because of this experience, I confidently look forward to additional opportunities to share the love of our Father with those who cross my path.