AUKLAND, New Zealand, April 7, 2013 ( – Over 1000 people took part in the 20th annual Eucharistic Convention held in Aukland over the weekend.  After an opening Mass by Bishop Patrick Dunn and an address by newly named Papal Dame Colleen Bayer, founder of Family Life International NZ, the enthusiastic crowd heard from a young nun – a member of the Sisters for Life founded in New York by the late Cardinal John O’Connor.

Sister Bethany Madonna related that she resides in one of the roughest places of the Bronx in NY called Hell’s Kitchen. 

One day, she recalled, she was having a bad day, so bad she described her mood in song: “I’ve lost that loving feeling… and it’s gone, gone, gone.”


But she felt inspired to head to the local church for consolation and to ask her order's late founder for prayer and guidance.  As she neared the church, she felt what she thought was rain.  However she noted it was only raining on her and soon discovered she had been the victim of a dive bomb attack of pigeons. 

Her habit splattered with bird droppings, sister relates she felt utterly humiliated.  She felt exasperated but said with resignation a prayer she learned from Pope John Paul II when he had once had a car door slammed on his hand—he said aloud “Jesus, thank you for loving me in this way.” 

The prayer recited, Sister Bethany turned to make her way back to the convent as she could not enter the church in her splotched and splattered state. 

It was then that a man approached her, seemingly oblivious to her state.  He begged her prayers as his marriage was in trouble because of his addiction to pornography.  

In the midst of her own filth and humiliation, says Sister Bethany, she was in the perfect place to identify with this man. She gave him counsel and prayed with him right there on the street in Hell’s Kitchen. 

As she departed she recognized God’s hand in making her ready to minister to this troubled man.  The song in her heart changed there and then, she recalled, to “I’ve got sunshine, on a cloudy day….” 

The convention attendees heard many talks amid Masses and beautiful music. Speakers included the blogger priest Fr. John Hollowell, Fr. Leszek Czelusniak who ministers to the poor in Rwanda still feeling the effects of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and Susan Conroy, an EWTN show host who worked with Mother Teresa and this writer.  

Organizer John Porteous thanked Dame Bayer for coordinating the strong pro-life aspect of the convention. Speaking of New Zealand, he said, “We are following along with this popular culture of death just like many other Western countries, and there will be a price to pay. God will not be mocked. It is time for us Kiwis, especially us Catholic Kiwis, to show solidarity in holding up the flag of life in a world that promotes the opposite.”


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