|Sophia Foley with one of her sons.|
October 12, 2010. Hinsdale, IL. “I was going through a
difficult period in my life,” says Sophia Foley, a relatively
new Regnum Christi member. Looking back on the five years
before her reversion to the Catholic faith, perhaps the word
“difficult” is an understatement.
First, there were the family
tragedies. After her father-in-law’s slow decline and death from esophageal
cancer, her own father suffered three heart attacks. Since he
lived in upstate New York and Sophia lived outside of
Chicago, her worry was compounded with a sense of helplessness.
Then she was diagnosed with her own cancer, which
meant surgery and daily chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
At the same time, her husband was being relocated again
in his job. For the eighth time in seventeen years, they
had to pack up the family and get settled into
a new town, find new schools, meet new friends, make
arrangements with new doctors…
Selling a home in
a housing recession while also dealing with cancer is not
what one would call a recipe for peace and joy.
Once they settled in their new town in Illinois,
she began taking piano lessons to fill up her day.
She wasn’t really “with it,” and her piano teacher could
One day, her teacher stopped the lesson, pressed
a book on Zen Buddhism into her distracted student’s hands,
and told her, “Sophia, you need a change. Just get
on a plane and go away for a while.”
So she did. At the last minute, she bought
plane tickets for herself and her son. Where to? New Mexico! She
brought the book with her, hoping to read it on
the plane and find some measure of peace and clarity.
After all, the Zen book was all about living in
the present moment, not anxiously anticipating the future or uselessly
rehashing the past. She was definitely searching for something…
But when they got to the airport and she
saw a Catholic priest sitting at their gate, she was
absolutely sure she was not searching for the Catholic Church.
They hadn’t practiced their Catholic faith for the past five
years, and there was nothing attracting her back. Quite the
opposite. She felt repelled.
“Let’s sit far away from
that priest,” she told her son. At a safe distance
from the ominous Roman collar, she relaxed a little and
started looking forward to the trip.
When it was
time to board the plane, she and her son couldn’t
sit together, since the tickets had been purchased at the
last minute. So she ended up way at the back
of the plane. When she checked her seat number and
scanned the row, her heart sank.
There he was.
Right next to her assigned seat. The priest.
to avoid contact, she opened her Zen book and read
the whole time. The young priest was likewise immersed in
his Bible or breviary. For the next several hours, the
Asian woman and the Catholic priest exchanged not a word.
But just before the plane landed, the force of
habit caught her by surprise. Without thinking, she made the
sign of the cross for a safe landing, just as
she always did.
The priest looked up, his interest
piqued, as if to say, “What is this Asian woman
reading Zen Buddhism doing making the sign of the cross?”
So he struck up a conversation, introducing himself as
Brother Zach. He was a Legionary of Christ and worked
in youth ministry in Louisiana. When he asked Sophia about
her religious background, she shared that she had been a
Catholic but was no longer practicing.
found out that she was from Illinois, he suggested that
she go to a reflection on Divine Mercy that Fr
Jason Brooks was holding at someone’s home in the town
It just so happened that Sophia
and her family had recently moved to that very town.
For some reason, she went. It was there that
she met Fr André LaSana, LC. Over the next few
months, he became her new spiritual director, gently coaching her
back into the Catholic Church and to the sacraments.
Looking back, she is grateful to Fr André for bringing
her face to face with Christ as a person, and
for walking with her at her pace.
has been the driving force behind my commitment to Christ,”
she said. “He was so patient with me at a
time when I was ready to throw in the towel.”
Attending Mass again for the first time gave her
a taste of the peace she had been searching for.
“I was a little nervous going into it, but
once I was there, it was like coming home. All
of a sudden, for the rest of the day I
was just happy as a lark. Everything just seemed right,
whereas before, I felt so empty,” she said.
thing led to another. She met Regnum Christi women, started
attending weekly Encounters with Christ, attended the formators’ convention in
Rhode Island, and decided to join Regnum Christi this past
She also got involved in her parish,
where she now goes to adoration twice a week and
serves as an RCIA sponsor.
Looking back, Sophia sees
the hand of God acting at a time when she
needed him most. It took a trip to New Mexico
to bring her home, and the sign of the cross—made
over a book of Zen Buddhism— to spark a life-changing
For her, the succession of events crosses the
line from coincidence to providence. Sitting at the right hand
of the “father” had been a blessing indeed.
one trip to New Mexico was taken by chance… but
it’s almost like it was meant to happen. For me,
it was a form of divine providence, active divine providence.”
article is part of a series about God’s action in
the lives of Regnum Christi members. If you have a
story to share, please contact us at this link.