Fatima Medeiros Pilot photo/ Courtesy Fatima Medeiros
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LOWELL -- Life hasn’t always been easy for Fatima Medeiros, but her faith in God has never been shaken.
As a young woman, she emigrated to the United States from the Azores with her husband, Manuel Medeiros. The couple found the transition difficult. When this was compounded with the discovery that they were unable to have children, the couple decided to return to their homeland, where they stayed for 17 years.
Then, when she found herself widowed after 32 years of marriage, Medeiros herself decided to return to Massachusetts to be close to her family.
“I am grateful to God and to my faith because God has given me a lot of hope, a lot of strength to carry on in my life,” Medeiros said.
“When my husband passed away, it was a hard time,” she continued, “but it was God who helped me to live through it.”
Today Medeiros, 62, is a parishioner at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Lowell, where she is both a lector and an extraordinary minister of Communion. A retired schoolteacher, she also brings Communion to the local nursing home, something she has done for the past four years.
She is also the secretary of the Holy Ghost Sodality, a group within the parish that has its own “Country Store” at the parish hall on weekends where they sell items the sodality members have sewn, knit or crocheted.
“The church is not a rich parish, so we try to help how we can,” she said.
“St. Anthony’s is a happy community with many good people,” she said. “They have a lot of feasts, traditional Portuguese feasts, like back at home in Portugal.”
According to Medeiros, the faith community at St. Anthony’s has diminished in recent years because of parishioners moving out of the city and into the nearby suburbs.
“But still we are a good place, with many good people,” she said.
Medeiros praised the parish administrator, Father Charles Hughes, for his ability to make everyone feel welcome.
“He’s such a good man,” she said. “He came here without speaking any Portuguese, and because we are a Portuguese parish, he began to study so he could speak, and now he can even say Mass in Portuguese for us,” she said.
In addition to volunteering at St. Anthony’s, Medeiros is also involved in the Cursillo program, where she is often asked to speak of her faith experience to people attending a retreat for the first time.
“The Cursillo program helped me a lot,” she said. “It helps a lot because there I have learned many things about God that I didn’t know before, and that has helped me to get closer to God and to the Church.”
“I share my experience because it shows, I think, that we can live with God. God can mean so much in our lives,” Medeiros added.
St. Anthony of Padua, Lowell
Year established -- 1901
Administrator -- Father Charles Hughes
Pastoral Associate -- Victor Melo
Organist -- Beatrice Cunha