St. Apollinaris Catholic Church • 3700 Lassen Street • Napa, CA 94558 • (707)257-2555

Living In God's Vineyard

Sharing the Good News begins with you and your life, reflecting and sharing why you live. Lynn Hill generously shares her story with us: "If He loved me perfectly and personally, why doesn’t He answer my prayers?"

That's what I thought 20 years ago when my oldest son, at the age of 17 was arrested and charged with attempted murder, gang affiliation, possession of a firearm and drugs, and other charges. My husband and I had been doing our best to raise three beautiful children, taking them to mass each weekend at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, where they were altar servers and had attended CCD and received the Sacraments of Baptism through Confirmation. We were parents who sat and cheered from the bleachers at games for soccer, baseball, basketball…Friends and family asked, "How could this happen?"  

We had spent over a year trying to get help, asking police and medical staff to help us prevent Andy's use of drugs and alcohol. Every time we tried counseling, Andy wouldn't cooperate, and the police would just tell us, " He doesn't look like the typical trouble maker," or "he hasn't committed any crimes…"

That night I sobbed in another room, away from my husband, neither of us able to console the other. I recall my 11 year old daughter coming in and wrapping her arms around me, not knowing why I was crying, but telling me, "Everything is going to be ok, mommy.” My husband was already dealing with Hemochromatosis and then was diagnosed with melanoma, and then tongue cancer, over the next 3 years, while Andy was moved from Juvenile Hall to the jail. He finally refused to go to trial and took a plea for 28 years in prison. I remember my 14 year old son saying, " I don't believe there is a God, because so many bad things keep happening to us…"
 
I still felt my heart breaking when Andy was sentenced, and I asked Father Gordon what I could do. He said to pray to Mary, that she had watched her own son be crucified on the cross, and through her dedication and love, she would help me. With both of their love, I have gained the strength I needed to accept God's Will, and to share God and Mary's love through me with my family…God's love enabled me to give my husband and my children the support they needed with their struggles, even under the weight of several more crosses we have had to bear. Looking back, I think God was teaching me how to believe and trust and accept His love and mercy, even when all my emotions wanted to do otherwise. If you are carrying a cross, lean on Him, even if it feels like relief is slow in coming. He will not abandon you…He shares with us His abundant life so we can experience His Supernatural love, wisdom, and power in place of our own…

Now I do Bible Study with inmates at the jail every Saturday, something I never imagined I would be doing, and Andy has reached out to so many others in prison, who never would have heard the Word. Through God's love we have given many people over the years hope in the future, and we know that with God's love, we never need to fear what He might allow into our lives.

I want to finish with [words] Andy sent me recently when I asked him to speak about God's love:
"We each must know and mirror the richness of God's love in us. It is essential, because as we do, and as we receive it more and more, it is then we are able to do the same, and to be refreshed. It is impossible otherwise. We get our strength to love, to care for, and to show compassion, from God, and once this love is in us, nothing can separate us from it. And we remain more than conquerors within our daily lives, growing stronger eternally. I love each of you, and know that, the beautiful woman [sharing this with you all], is my mom. -- who has been patient with me through the love of God in her, supporting me for 37 years, through trials and tribulations. And it is from her selfless acts and expressions of motherhood, I have come to comprehend the essence of love from God. As her son, I can attest to her faith in Jesus' name. If any of you ever need a shoulder to lean on, or feel lonely, you can trust in my mom. I love her with all my heart. May the Holy Love of Christ be with you all. Sincere and true, Andrew Hill”

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Presented by the St. Apollinaris Team for the New Evangelization