2009 was an unspeakably painful year for Homeland resident Joanne Mazzie. In the span of nine months, she lost first her brother, John, and then her mother, Anna. Joanne was so overwhelmed with grief at the loss of these beloved family members that she was encouraged to seek counseling or join grief support groups. Instead, she found solace not with people, but in a place: The St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, dedicated in loving memory of Carmen J. and Theresa R. Deyesu, at University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. This became the healing center that had such a profound influence on her journey back to spiritual wellness.
"I knew that St. Joe's was a very special place when my brother became so sick. John had acquired bacterial meningitis and was treated for several weeks in the hospital's intensive care unit. Because he would not recover from his condition, difficult decisions had to be made. It was the compassionate and unwavering comfort from the nurses, doctors and Spiritual Care Department that convinced us to do what was best for John and certainly what he would have wanted," says Joanne.
When Joanne's mother, Anna, passed away from cancer, she was feeling bereft and angry, beginning to question her faith. But Joanne was drawn time and again to the Chapel on the St. Joe's campus. It was there that she would just sit quietly and reflect on her memories of her family and God's plan for her. Sometimes, Joanne would be alone in the Chapel, enjoying the quiet peacefulness, but always feeling a strong, comforting presence surrounding her; other times she would celebrate Mass with the large Saturday evening congregation, basking in their shared love for the Holy Spirit. "My faith and my capacity for joy returned."
Joanne's experience in the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel was so meaningful to her that she decided to make a planned gift to support the spiritual care programs at UM St. Joseph. "I kept getting advice from well-meaning friends about how I needed to connect with someone to recover from my sadness. The answer was not a person but a place of worship, right at St. Joe's," she concludes with a smile. "I want to make sure that others in pain will always have this wonderful Chapel to help them become whole again."