The Gift of Fortitude

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of going to San Francisco for the first time in my life. I spent 2 days with a group of catechists and catechetical leaders exploring the relationship between catechesis and liturgy.

I met many wonderful people there and in particular, was inspired by a catechetical leader (who also teaches 8th grade RE) who exemplifies the gift of fortitude. Victor is a very friendly, outgoing young man, with a deep faith and great wisdom and insight. He is also a man of great fortitude. I don’t want to define Victor by his physical challenges. Suffice to say that he has endured seven brain surgeries for recurring brain tumors, is visually impaired, and is assisted by a cochlear implant for his hearing.

With all of these challenges, Victor dedicates himself to the kids he works with and to his ministry as a catechetical leader. Out of his wonderful sense of generosity, he offered to take me out to dinner and show me around San Francisco so that I wouldn’t just be holed up in my hotel room.

We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, drove around San Francisco, and stopped at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, where we were just in time to join in the Liturgy of the Eucharist at the Saturday vigil Mass. On our way to the cathedral, Victor told me about the shrine at the cathedral to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a shrine that was very special to him. Years earlier, after receiving the traumatic news of the discovery of a brain tumor, Victor prayed at this shrine where these words, spoken by Mary to Juan Diego, are inscribed:

“Listen, my son, to what I tell you now: do not be troubled nor disturbed by anything; do not fear illness nor any other distressing occurrence, nor pain. Am I not your mother? Am I not life and health? Have I not placed you on my lap and made you my responsibility? Do you need anything else?”

After Mass, Victor showed me around the cathedral and then we went over to the Guadalupe shrine to pray. Here is a picture of Victor praying before his very special lady.

 victor praying at Guadalupe shrine

After touring the cathedral, we had an excellent dinner at a historic ocean-front restaurant.

Thank you, Victor, for your hospitality and for sharing your courageous story with me. You are in my prayers. May the Holy Spirit bless all of us with the gift of fortitude.

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

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