Saints mom inspires CCHS Parents in Prayer
March 22, 2017
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Opening up about her relationship with God and her faith journey, a St. Augustine High School mother who lost her two daughters to a genetic disease shared her family’s tragedy recently at the Parents in Prayer group meeting.
“Losing my two daughters was very painful, but having them was the best thing that has ever happened to me,” Dr. Cyndi Peterson said. ” So, I thank God.”
The Parents in Prayer group meets every Wednesday to pray the whole rosary and offer up intentions for the Cathedral Catholic High School community. However, after going through its usual routine, the group listened to a faith talk by Dr. Peterson, a published author, mother, and Catholic.
Dr. Peterson served nine years as a flight surgeon in the United States Navy as a way to pay for medical school. After retiring from the military, she worked as a dermatologist in private practice.
During this time, her faith wavered.
“God was a back up plan for me at this time, as I thought I had everything: a loving family, a more than stable job, and a home,” Dr. Peterson said. “My faith in God was not really present in my life, and I never prayed.”
One day, she was looking at books when one of them fell off the shelf and landed at her feet. The cover of the book had an illustration of the Virgin Mary, and its content included information about the Medjugorje, a place in Eastern Europe where the Virgin Mary has appeared with messages.
“I could leave the book there and nothing would change, or I could take it and something would change,” Dr. Peterson said.
Afraid and ashamed at first, she began her faith journey, focusing on praying, reading the Bible, and traveling to the Medjugorje. Then, she had her fourth child, Kelly, but the trials began when Dr. Peterson’s newborn was unable to hold her head up and could barely move her hands.
A diagnosis of spinal muscular atrophy, characterized by the National Institutes of Health as a genetic disorder that affects the control of muscle movement, came after about a month of searching. Kelly was four months old, and she would live only five more months.
Eager to spend the most amount of time with her suffering daughter, Dr. Peterson quickly resigned her position and turned to God.
“It would be impossible to go through it alone, I had to turn to God,” Dr. Peterson said. “If you do not pray, you will never get to Jesus.”
Filled with an exploding love for God, Dr. Peterson’s faith grew stronger after her first daughter died in her arms. The same illness inflicted her second daughter, Sarah, who passed away from SMA after 21 months. The deaths of her daughters pushed her stronger into her faith, and she eventually realized she must share her story with the world.
“I questioned God, but I was so strong in my faith,” she said. “I traveled to the Medjugorje, and I saw signs from God, such as smelling roses everywhere and witnessing rosaries turning into gold.”
After climbing to the top of a mountain, Peterson said she saw a vision of the Virgin Mary holding both of her daughters on either side. In her closing remarks, Dr. Peterson explained her vision, saying she knew her daughters had gone to heaven, but having Mary as their mother was a “wow factor.”
The Parents in Prayer group applauded Dr. Peterson after the talk, and rushed to buy her book “Waiting for a Miracle: One Mother’s Journey to Unshakable Faith,” which was on display in the chapel.
“I was so inspired,” said Mrs. Cathy Sperrazzo, a member of the Parents in Prayer group. “I heard the things I needed to hear, and now I know not to worry about my kids as long as they have faith.”
The group gleaned a lot from Dr. Peterson’s talk and discussed what they learned with each other about raising their own children. Mrs. Sperazzo said she learned a lot about patience and finding the balance between working and God.
“As long as you keep praying everyday and have a strong faith life, it will not matter if you are put into a dire situation,” Dr. Peterson said. “Whether it be like mine or you end up living on the streets, God will always be there for you.”