St. Monica was a wife and mother who lived in the mid 300’s in northern Africa. She was a devout Catholic whose personal devotion and kindness brought about the conversion of those who knew her. She was married young to a pagan man who was not kind and mistreated her often. However, through her patient suffering and prayer not only her husband, but his mother, and the whole household came to faith in Christ. St. Monica’s eldest son was the source of many of her tears. As a youth he was as fervent as she was. However, when he went away to study he became lured away from the true faith by the temptations of the world. Eventually Augustine even joined a heretical sect of Christians causing St. Monica to weep bitterly for her son. She was often going to the Bishop to ask for advice or simply to cry and be comforted. He famously replied to her distress, “Fear not, it is not the way of God that the son of so many tears be lost…” It seemed as though her son kept drifting further away from the only things St. Monica wanted for him, faith in Christ and His Holy Church.
After many years Augustine heard the preaching of St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan and was convinced of the truth of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith. St. Monica’s prayers were answered and her son was not only baptized but eventually ordained a bishop of the Catholic Church to become one of the greatest theologians the Church has ever known. She died in Ostia, Italy, far from her native Africa. As she was dying she was asked if she was not troubled to be buried so far from her husband and all she knew. To this she replied, “Nothing is far from God.”
St. Monica is a model of perseverance, fidelity to the truths of the Holy Church, and the power of motherly prayers. She is the patroness of mothers, those suffering with addictions, those in difficult marriages, and those whose children have left the Church.
Prayer to St. Monica
Exemplary Mother of the Great Augustine,
You perserveringly pursued your wayward son
Not with wild threats
But with prayerful cries to heaven.
Intercede for all mothers in our day
So that they may learn
To draw their children to God.
Teach them how to remain
Close to their children,
Even the prodigal sons and daughters
Who have sadly gone astray.
Dear St Monica, troubled wife and mother,
Many sorrows pierced your heart
During your lifetime.
Yet you never despaired or lost faith.
With confidence, persistence and profound faith,
You prayed daily for the conversion
Of your beloved husband, Patricius
And your beloved son, Augustine.
Grant me that same fortitude,
Patience and trust in the Lord.
Intercede for me, dear St. Monica,
That God may favorably hear my plea
For (mention your petition here)
And grant me the grace
To accept his will in all things,
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
In the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God forever and ever. Amen.
One of the first Catholic churches in Mishawaka (Holy Angels Catholic Church, which later became St. Joseph Catholic Church) was located on the north side of the river at the corner of Sarah and Grove Streets. However, that church burned down in 1861 and the congregation moved and built St. Joseph Church downtown.*
For over 50 years there was no Catholic Church on the north side of the river until 1915 when St. Monica Parish was founded as the result of the dreams and hard work of the Catholics on the north side of the St. Joseph river. The first church was a former Baptist church along Mishawaka Ave. Then the school was built in 1917 and Mass was offered in a basement chapel there. Finally, in 1927 after a great influx of immigrants from southern Italy arrived to join the current Catholic population the current Church was consecrated by Archbishop John Francis Noll. Since then our parish has grown and expanded adding on to our school in the 1950s and then again in the 1990s.
* J., De Kever Peter. Walking Mishawaka: Self-guided Tours of Historic Sites in the Princess City. Mishawaka, IN: Duley, 2016.
Our Church is a perfect example of what a Catholic Church building is meant to be. Built for the glory of God and to be an image of heaven. Within there are many unique architectural and artistic elements. St. Monica is one of the only Churches built in a Romanesque style in the entire diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The baldacchino (canopy) over the altar, meant to be symbolic of the wedding bed where the union of love brings fourth life, so at the altar, the sacrifice of love made present in the cross of Christ produces the Bread of Life. Also, just to the side of the sanctuary is the Altar of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Built within the altar is a relief of the Holy Souls in Purgatory being comforted by the merits of Christ poured out for them. There are also shrines for The Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Infant of Prague, St. Ann, St. Christopher, St. Rocco, St. James, St. Anthony, Our Lady of Loreto, and the Pieta.