Diana Ferrante shares her life story with members of the Kenosha/Racine Chapter of the Magnificat at its quarterly breakfast, May 3 at Meadowbrook Country Club in Racine. (Catholic Herald photo by Karen Mahoney)
|Magnificat is women’s ministry|
|Magnificat helps Catholic women be open to the Holy Spirit through a deeper commitment of their lives to Jesus as Lord and to impart the Holy Spirit to one another by their love, service, and sharing the good news of salvation. It provides opportunities to foster a desire to grow in holiness. For more information on Magnificat, contact Rose Nelson (262) 654-7287 or Rose Birkholz (262) 657-9519|
Woman’s life changed when she put God in charge
By Karen Mahoney
Special to Your Catholic Herald
RACINE – “I am a pile of dry dead bones raised from the dead,” explained Diana Ferrante while sharing her testimony with members of the Kenosha/Racine Chapter of the Magnificat at its quarterly breakfast, May 3 at Meadowbrook Country Club. “Our imaginations are limited in what we can think we are doing with our lives, but God has a great imagination deeper than the seas and vaster than the skies.”
Raised Catholic, Ferrante found solace in the traditions and rites of the Catholic Church, a place she described as having a calm, warm and loving atmosphere.
“I loved God and as a kid I loved going to church,” she said. “I grew up in the Latin church and loved it; I loved holy hours, rosaries, novenas, stations – it was a place of incredible peace for me.”
At home, the facade of a peaceful, loving, Catholic family continued and Ferrante felt her conscience fading while living in a house of lies, appearance-centered family activities, and finally, as an ultimate blow to her spirit, the liturgical changes of Vatican II.
“I couldn’t believe it; we were supposed to meet in the gym while our church was having some remodeling done,” she said. “We came back into church two weeks later and the marble altars were gone and replaced by a wooden table. The statues were gone and the church was totally rearranged. We had teen groups meeting separately for Mass, playing guitars and singing ‘Kumbaya’ instead of our beautiful hymns. The changes disturbed me and jostled my sensibilities. I didn’t feel like the church knew what it was doing. The church was always my safe haven, but it didn’t feel that way anymore.”
She lost her faith while attending Catholic college because, she said, she “bought into the feminism lie.” Women, she was taught, began to believe that they needed to be producers in the workforce, so sexuality and bearing children were not as acceptable. What was acceptable, she learned, was birth control and abortion and as she began to accept feminism, she rejected her Christianity.
“I found myself pregnant along the way and because I lived the illusion of perfection, which was the model of my life, everything had to look good,” she said. “I was pregnant and in the culture I was living in, which was a Catholic school with Planned Parenthood on campus, I had the abortion.”
Ferrante described the Planned Parenthood mission as one which presents itself as an illusion of choice, but the only allowable choice is abortion.
“Even during the abortion your spirit is saying ‘no’ but by learning so long to kill your conscience and how you have to look the part, you do whatever you can to look successful to make your own life go your own way,” she said.
Her future husband, Mike, encouraged Ferrante to go to confession.
“The Holy Spirit just hit while I was in there (the confessional) and my whole life came before me,” she said. “I must have been there for over an hour and everything came out.”
Breathing a sigh of relief at her full and honest disclosure, Ferrante waited to hear those familiar words of absolution.
They never came.
“Eventually, the priest said to me, ‘You know, you sound really sincere, but I don’t know you and I can’t give you absolution,'” she said. “If you have ever felt like the dry bones mentioned in Ezekiel 37 – I was cut off. I was out there and I was in a place that was unredeemable. I was in hell.”
For years, Ferrante went to other priests for confession, went to Eucharistic adoration, participated in her church, and functioned in her job, but she was in a funk. She went through the motions of marriage, practicing the Catholic faith, and soon her parish priest recruited her for teaching religious education. While she acted the part, her soul felt unredeemed.
“Finally, a Dominican priest said to me, ‘You know, you can’t keep doing this. Your problem is worse because the sin you are committing is worse than your original sin as you are not trusting in God’s mercy. If you want to be obedient to God, you have to believe that he wants to forgive you and accept his forgiveness and come to a place where you can say, yes I am forgiven,'” she said. “I looked forward and said finally, that if God wanted me, he could have me.”
Ferrante became a Third Order Dominican, and returned to school to study for a master’s degree in theology. While working as a computer programmer, teaching religious education and studying, her parish priest again approached her and asked her to help chair the Renew team with a spirit-filled Catholic woman.
“I am the logical one, and was doing all this planning and all she was doing was praying and praying,” joked Ferrante. “She would slow me down and taught me that unless God builds the house, you are laboring in vain and this was not a social program, but a program to change hearts and only God could change hearts. She taught me to pray ahead of time. This was hard for me because I thought I was God at the time, but she taught me to pray and surrender to the Lord.”
Through prophetic prayer, Ferrante received a message that led her to believe there might be something wrong with her heart. After consultation with a cardiologist, she had open-heart surgery for a blockage that, left untreated, would have resulted in a massive myocardial infarction.
Soon after her heart surgery, Ferrante learned she was pregnant with her third child and because of the stress on her body and powerful medications she was taking, doctors advised her to abort her baby.
“I was told that neither the baby or I would survive the pregnancy and that she would most likely have birth defects if either of us lived,” she said. “Even pro-life groups said that this might be a condition where abortion was acceptable. But I said this is where the road hits the metal. There is no case when abortion is acceptable.”
After extensive searching, she found an obstetrician, the atheist son of a Protestant minister, who handled high-risk pregnancies and agreed to deliver her baby. Throughout her pregnancy, Ferrante quietly evangelized the doctor and by the time she delivered Catherine, her healthy 9 pound 15 ounce baby girl, the doctor was engaged to be married and attending church on a regular basis.
Ferrante continues to support the pro-life movement, work in religious education, confirmation classes, prayer groups, and Magnificat while raising her children in Georgia.
“There is an old saying that ‘God writes straight with crooked lines,'” she said. “I am one of those.”