Saint Monica

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Perhaps what most of us remember about St. Monica is that she prayed for over 20 years for the conversion of her son Augustine. Her patience and persistence in praying and fasting for her son even when it may have appeared that there was little to no hope of conversion exemplifies her extreme trust in God. Those prayers, that faith and trust, resulted in the conversion of her son who is now one of our greatest saints and a Doctor of the Church, Saint Augustine.

While many of us may not have experienced the pain of a child rejecting God, we have experienced situations such as the pain of prayers that seemingly appeared to be unanswered or on an insanely long hold. This is when the example of St. Monica and her unrelenting faith can give us that constant reminder to trust that God has it covered. He’s got this.

When we look at St. Therese, we see another woman with this faithfulness to God in trust and confidence. St. Therese had a burning desire to be a missionary. She gave this desire to God with childlike confidence and never saw it fulfilled during her lifetime as she spent her grown years behind the walls of a convent. She gave that desire to God and was faithful to His calling. Now we see devotion to St. Therese across all countries and continents. She was faithful in her confidence and trust, and faithful to her vocation and calling, and God fulfilled the desires of her heart!

These two saints have inspired me in my own life to pray unceasingly, to trust, and to know that God truly does answer prayers. For years, I coached women in health and fitness, and even though I eventually stepped out of that world, I had seen too many women struggling to see their value, their worth, and all the God-given gifts they had to offer the world. Even when I dusted off my suit and stepped back into the corporate world, I couldn’t get this ministry and desire to help grow women leaders off my heart. 

One week in particular, my heart was hurting and filled with such a desire to be involved in ministry that I began to say the Surrender Novena. On day 5 of the novena, a friend sent me a job description for the Executive Director of an organization named GIVEN Institute and told me that I just HAD to apply. As I read the job description, I teared up and caught my breath. It was everything God had ever put on my heart regarding ministry for women. When I said the surrender novena later that day, it began with, “And when I lead you on a path different from what you see, I will prepare you.”

It’s saints like St. Monica and St. Therese that help inspire and motivate us to keep trusting when these real life headaches and struggles come our way. The childlike faith of St. Therese and the perseverance of St. Monica go hand in hand.

Michelle Hillaert

It took many acts of trust to take the journey from walking away my work helping women all those years ago to the life changing moment when God fulfilled that desire. I cried like a baby on the day they called and told me the job was mine and have been grateful every day since.

It’s saints like St. Monica and St. Therese that help inspire and motivate us to keep trusting when these real life headaches and struggles come our way. The childlike faith of St. Therese and the perseverance of St. Monica go hand in hand. Monica couldn’t make her son convert; she had to surrender that to God and entrust her son to His mercy. St. Therese in her cloistered life knew that her desire to be a missionary couldn’t be fulfilled in a traditional manner, so like a child, she gave it to her Heavenly Father in complete trust and surrender.

When life gets hard and we are in the middle of the storm and can’t see our way out, we need to remember the faith of these two saints, and lean into the knowledge that God honors our trust, and that sometimes His solutions are even better than we could have imagined. Remember… He’s got this.

Michelle Hillaert is married for over 23 years to her husband, Trent. Together they have six children, 3 in college and three still at home, along with three dogs, a cat and 21 chickens. As the Executive director of the GIVEN Institute, a not-for-profit founded by religious sisters and dedicated to activating the gifts of women for the church and the world, Michelle is passionate about helping women live out their God-given vocations. GIVEN fulfills this mission by inspiring and equipping the next generation of female leaders through leadership training, faith formation, and dedicated mentoring.

CONNECT + FOLLOW Michelle at:
Instagram: @michellehillaert @giveninstitute
Upcoming GIVEN Gathering in Arlington, November 11, 2023. Check out website for details.

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