St Teresa of Avila

St Teresa of Avila lived from 1515-1582. She was a Spanish Carmelite that brought much-needed reform to the Carmelite order and the Roman Catholic Church. A prolific spiritual and mystical writer, in 1970, Teresa of Jesus was declared the first female Doctor of the Church–-so she’s kind of a big deal.

Many years ago, I started a different kind of journal. I called it my prayerbook. In it, I handwrite prayers that have touched me or that I want to memorize. Years ago, I wrote these words from St. Teresa de Avila:

Let nothing disturb thee. Let nothing dismay thee. All things pass. God never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. He who has God finds he lacks nothing.  God alone suffices.” 

st teresa of avila

About 4 years ago, I lived through a near-death experience. It’s a LONG story, but many family and friends were praying that I would be healed. My friend, Joanne, sent me a holy card with the quote I just read to you on it, except instead of “let nothing dismay thee,” it said “Let nothing FRIGHTEN YOU.”  I keep that holy card taped up where I can easily see it from my bed. It is a comforting reminder—especially those words about not being frightened. 

Those words carry me back to what may be the hardest time of my life. About 7 years ago, I was diagnosed with colon cancer that required surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. Generally, this surgery is pretty straight forward. They go in, get the tumor and take it out.  Everything seemed to go as planned. Then a couple days later, a pathology report noted that all the cancer was not gone. Weak as I was, I needed another surgery. Devastating news! A zillion “what ifs” pestered me. I remember this space in time so clearly because a long time had passed, and no one was entering my hospital room to check things to change IVs, etc. 

In this miraculous quiet, the sun was setting, and the light in my room was golden, and my phone picked up a signal (the second miracle). A song I’d never heard called “Perfect Peace” by Laura Story started to play. And I cried. Very hard. If you listen closely, the song begins with a thunderstorm clash and speaks of God’s peace throughout. God touched me right then in that storm raging in my life.  

Isn’t it remarkable that over 500 years ago, another woman was struck like me to know that “God alone suffices” and we don’t have to be afraid?  I have learned that God really is not in my “what-ifs,” but He is there in my storms.

Barb Smerecki is a retiree with over 30 years of law enforcement service as an Intelligence Analyst. She has been a volunteer with Catholic High School youth groups for over 40 years. She continues in this service passionately and jokes that she is always the only “senior citizen” in the group. 

When in high school, Barb found something she was really looking for: A personal relationship with Jesus. This, she says, continually motivates her regarding ministry to teens. JESUS IS ALWAYS THE ANSWER.

Barb is passionate about her 19 nieces and nephews and 32 great nieces and nephews filling her calendar with play dates, lunches, and many adventures. She also has a slew of adopted kids that call her Auntie. Barb has enough love for all of them.

Her interests include fishing and music. 

When asked to point out one unusual factoid about herself, Barb noted that she has more nicknames than any person she knows. The list is at 15, but her favorite is “Babs” because that is one her dad always used. And another is Admiral Bubbles, who will always guarantee a smile, most likely followed by a heartfelt, contagious laugh.


  • Jeff Sanchez
    February 22, 2021 at 10:37 am

    Barb, what an amazing, heart-felt reflection on St. Teresa and your own life! I loved it. Also, thank you for being such an important person in my faith formation as a youngster in the youth group and for all the fun we had. Many blessings to you.

  • Ann Mulligan
    February 22, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    Well done Jeff and Lisa , you both have wonderful radio voices! Barb, I enjoyed the podcast. Thanks for reminding us we need never be afraid…and that there’s always saints and friends that go before us, lighting up the way. Ann blast from the past (Gheesling) Mulligan

  • Lillian Dubon
    February 22, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. I was so touched by your faith it is truly inspiring. After listening to your reflection I immediately searched for the song you mentioned Perfect Peace. Listening to it brought me to tears. Thank you so very much. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

  • Jacqueline Brandolino Boyer
    February 22, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    What a wonderful podcast! St. Teresa of Avela was ans is a fiesty, incredible saint. Barb you never cease to strengthen my faith. Dear Sanchez’s, as always, all you do is fantastic and your sense of humor…incredible.
    Best wishes, Jackie B

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