Area young adults share stories of God’s mercy in new book

Proceeds will benefit vocations

Long before Tricia Walz attended World Youth Day in Poland in 2016, she had been praying about whether or not she should publicly share her very personal story of miraculous healing.

“I don’t want to give too much of my story away but I had always wanted to talk to a priest about whether or not you are supposed to share your testimony when something like that happens,” Walz said. “It had been seven years since it happened and I always felt like I needed to share it but at the same time, it almost felt like bragging.”

While Walz was in Poland, she met Father Russell Kovash, a priest of the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota.

“We were walking and he caught up to me and I was like, ‘Yep, this is it, this is my chance.’ I had been nervous to ask a priest but this was my opportunity,” she recalled.

Tricia Walz compiled a collection of stories for the new book, “By His Mercy,” on her laptop a the kitchen counter of her home in St. Cloud. (Photo by Dianne Towalski/The Visitor)

His advice was ‘super cool.’

“He said God would never give you something like this if you’re not supposed to share it to glorify him,” she said.

During the trip, the pilgrims — including Walz and Father Kovash — often rode together on a bus. They usually prayed while on the road between locations.

“One of the days, Father Russell said to me, ‘I think it’s a good day for a testimony.’ And I was like, ‘This is happening.’ So I shared my story to a full bus of people,” Walz said.

After giving her witness story to the group, Walz was surprised how many people came up to her to share their own experiences of God’s mercy.

“That was really powerful for me to hear their stories,” she said.

The thought of sharing her witness story continued to gnaw at her while still in Poland.

“I was praying and thinking about how I could share my story with others. I’m not a public speaker, I’m not a writer, but maybe I would just write it down when I got home,” she recalled thinking to herself.

Throughout her conversations with God, she felt he had placed it on her heart to write a book. However, she quickly realized her story alone wasn’t enough material to fill the pages of an entire book. That’s when she chatted with her friend Catie Senour, whom she had met on a TEC retreat, about her writing.

“I knew Catie had a cool story, too,” Walz said. “She told me she would be willing to write down her story for the book. After that, everything just fell into place from there. I knew it was God’s will to write a book.”

Walz collected 10 stories written by 11 youth and young adults from central Minnesota.

“Each story is very different — stories of miracles, surviving a plane crash, losing a sibling, discerning a vocation. All of them are very powerful and each of them shows how we have seen God’s mercy in our lives,” Walz said.

“These stories are real. It’s easy to think about the saints back all those years ago. Hearing these stories in the lives of real people today has been amazing,” she said.

The book, “By His Mercy,” was published in November and includes the following authors: Walz, who attends St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Cloud; Leah Wienhold, originally from St. Cloud and returning in January; Sally Traut, member of St. Francis Xavier, Sartell; Father Doug Liebsch, chaplain at Cathedral High School and assistant diocesan vocation director; Amanda and Jessica Vasek, members of St. Michael, St. Cloud; Nikki Walz, St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Cloud; Father Derek Wiechmann, parochial vicar Holy Spirit, St. John Cantius and St. Anthony, St. Cloud; Hannah Molitor, Immaculate Conception, Rockville; Molly McGowan, St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Cloud; Catie Senour, St. Mary Church in Littleton, Colorado, originally from central Minnesota. The cover art of the book was done by Isabel Drake, who attends St. Joseph Church in Waite Park.

“When I hear stories about God’s mercy, they always really touch me,” Walz said. “That’s one thing Father Russell told me, too. People want to hear stories of how God has worked in other people’s lives.”

Father Kovash wrote the foreword in the front of the book.

“As I read the stories of these 11 young Catholics, it confirmed in me just how difficult the ‘race’ of the Christian life can be for us,” he wrote. “Despite all the joys, blessings, and good times in life, all of us are deeply aware that our lives are often filled with immense challenges, confusion, pain and suffering, profound loss, sadness, and heartbreak. … But amidst these challenges, you will also hear of extraordinary physical and spiritual healings, the granting of supernatural peace, acceptance, and guidance during times of doubt, confusion, and loss, the incredible providence of God, and the outrageous love and mercy He has for us, his prized creation.”

In addition, national Catholic speaker and recording artist Paul J. Kim wrote a special “shout-out” on the back cover.

“‘By His Mercy’ is a collection of testimonies that will interrupt the reader’s day in the best way possible,” he wrote. “In a world that makes faith seem like some sort of unreciprocated exercise towards a God who is distant at best, these 10 true stories from young adults show that God is still very much alive and active among us. My faith has grown from reading this book.”

Funds raised from the book’s sale will benefit the diocesan Vocation Office, and Walz hopes it will be used for youth and young adults who are discerning God’s call in their lives.

“The Office of Vocations is humbled and grateful that proceeds of this book will support its work,” said Father Scott Pogatchnik, diocesan vocation director.

“What a gift! Even more, I am certain that these powerful testimonies will inspire the next generation of faith-filled leaders. Our testimonies always lead to conversions, and conversions lead to our vocations — lives given away to Christ in love and freedom. This book has done that for me and I pray it can do the same for you.”

The book will be available for purchase at the churches of St. Augustine and St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud, at the St. Cloud Book Shop and online at https://bit.ly/2DMdYRL.

About Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic.

1 comments

Excellent Visitor article! I will share it with our FSPA (Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, La Crosse, Wisconsin) vocation director, Sister Amy Taylor. I will also purchase the book. I am especially interested in what my grand nieces (Jessica and Amanda Vasek) wrote.

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