Humans of Calvert County, Sarah Merranko & Anita Santoyo

“Growing up Catholic when you go to Catholic schools, it was during the Cold War, and so every Friday we would go to mass and at the end of mass, we’d always pray for the conversion of Russia and then the nuns would have us pray that God would call us to be a nun or a priest. Well I didn’t want to be a nun! Even as a little kid, I can remember crossing my fingers and I would say in my mind ‘God I don’t mean this, God I don’t mean this!’ I mean how silly was that! But I think that I was called. Not to be a nun. But to live my life given to the church. And it’s been a great ride.

I retired in May to watch my grandchildren. I did it for thirty years! And St. John Vianney has been our spiritual home for forty years! There was an opening for Director of Religious Education and I applied for the job. My kids were little and I wanted to stay close to home. The church was very flexible time wise when you have children. So it worked.

It was a blessing because it was always a joy. It’s not like I got up in the morning and thought, I have to go to work. I loved coming to work. I loved the people that I worked with. I loved the kids that I worked with. I loved the knowledge that I attained. I just truly loved every minute.

I miss it. The High school program was where my heart was. I love teenagers and so I miss them. I do. I miss the interaction with them on a regular basis and finding out about their lives. Sharing things with them. It was good. It was a blessing. It became a calling.

God is good. And how fortunate am I that I get to spend all this time with my grandchildren. Not everybody has that opportunity. I’m praying that they have really good memories of grandma. And some they might not have had if I didn’t do this. Everything happens the way it’s supposed to happen and it was my time to go.

You have expectations for your kids. You want them safe. You want them to have a good and happy life. 

And I found very early on that my kids were like the preacher’s kids. I didn’t feel that pressure, my kids did. I didn’t because I truly do the best I can do in any given situation. And if you find fault with that, I’m okay with you finding fault with it, because I know that I did the best that I can do. Even if I was wrong, I was doing it because I thought I was doing the right thing. So truly other people’s opinion about me, about anything doesn’t really impact me.

I think that so many people spend so much time trying to pretend that there are no problems in their life. When there really are and you’re not addressing them because you’re pretending they’re not there. I just don’t have the energy for that. I just don’t.

For about four years it was ugly. I think how our son got through it was because I was on my knees praying a whole lot. When we had this issue in my family with drugs, I found myself, I honed in everyday until you get to the point where I thought I’m not good for him, I’m not good for me, and I’m probably not good for anybody else either. If I believe what I’m saying I believe, then it’s in God’s hands, and it’s going to resolve itself in God’s time. I knew that he would be healed at some point in time. I used to get a little aggravated with God because his time clock was a little long, but I knew it would happen.

Anything that happens within life happens within your parish too. I started a program here for addicts and families of addicts. And I was amazed. 

I just never understood that shame game with drugs and alcohol. I mean I understand it to a degree, but in my mind the shame game was if ‘I’m ashamed of him, if I act and speak like I am ashamed of this situation, how can he ever get better if he thinks I’m ashamed of him?’ So I put it out there. I didn’t care who knew. I really didn’t. And I feel like he knew I owned it. Does he have a problem? You bet he does. But he’s my kid and I love him. 

If you want to judge me that’s okay too. It doesn’t change my son’s life. Their opinions are going to be their opinions. I can’t spend my life and energy on trying to make them see different. I can’t. I can’t. You know what, my focus was on my son at that time. What everybody else thought, I really did not care.

I think the reason was that we needed to pull it out of the shadows. I think that was the purpose of him and his addiction. To open the door a little bit. There was so many people in this church, that I had no clue. And there’s a network now in this parish because of it. That was the purpose I think. 

God puts you where he needs you when he needs you. It’ll be what it’s supposed to be. I just think you need to stay open. And tune yourself into where God is leading you.”

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...