Photo by Jane Winstead
By Christine Pelletier
These remarks were prepared for the presentation of the Handmaiden of the Lord 2012 to Angela Soucy.
Born in England in 1920, her mother died when she was only four years old and her father gave her away to a neighbor. She grew up in a life of poverty, with no electricity or running water, only little scraps of food to eat, and just one dress to wear. Her cruel stepmother would force her to do extreme chores and beat her with a leather belt. All she felt in her miserable young life was hated and unloved.
In her 20s, she had to suffer through nights of terror in shelters while the war raged on, and had to dodge shrapnel as it fell from enemy planes when bombs were dropped. She eventually met one of the American soldiers who lived in the tents in the park, and not only fell in love with him, but with our religion that was established by Christ more than 2000 years ago. She became a Catholic, a “war bride,” and lived through the war, with bombings, death and destruction all around them. Life was never easy and money always scarce, yet they managed to lovingly raise four children amidst it all, and the children never realized how poor they really were.
During the course of 30 years in the Air Force, this family had the burden of moving 38 times! Upon retiring from the Air Force, our Handmaiden’s husband enjoyed a job with the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, until he was suddenly called home to God. The pain of losing him after 36 years of marriage was deep; two bishops and 13 priests concelebrated his Christmas Eve funeral in 1980. The one thing that always keeps this angel going is her profound abiding faith. Even during extreme times of devastation, she turned to Our Lord, and still does to this day. This woman of God has lived her life being an angel to others.
Upon moving to Florida in 1992, she quickly embraced the community of St. Raphael’s. Over these past 20 years, she has been Celeste’s right hand in the kitchen for all the church functions, including CRHP. She has been an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at church, to the home bound, and at the nursing home.
A daily Mass communicant, she is a CCW member who is still involved in many other ministries as well, including baking for a function whenever called upon, making a meal for someone in need, caring for elderly neighbors, helping with coffee and doughnuts, working in the gift shop, mending the priests’ vestments, knitting for babies at the shelters, cleaning the church at Christmas and Easter, being the “official cleaner of the brass,” filling the open slots at weekly Eucharistic Adoration, and making literally thousands of rosaries! She also prays unceasingly for anyone who asks, and especially for her family, for peace and reconciliation among all, so that they can be together again in heaven.
In this world of materialism, she is proud that her largest material possession in this life is her car. She is not ashamed that she has no other assets, no investments, no properties, no money in the bank, and that she only shops for herself at garage sales or Salvation Army. Her ONLY income, her monthly Social Security check, barely lasts through all her monthly bills, and if there are ever a few dollars left over, she gives it to the church, a favorite charity, someone in need, or one of her 13 grandchildren or 18 great-grandchildren. She may be poor by the world’s standards, but her legacy of faith makes her wealthy beyond measure.
She is always reminding her children and grandchildren to “never lose sight of God and that we are nothing without Him, but with God all things are possible.” This woman lives by God’s plan, loves God and our Catholic faith, and loves our church community. She truly is a handmaiden of the Lord, always of service to others, and always living out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Please join me in congratulating our 2012 Handmaiden of the Lord, Angela Soucy!