‘Your suffering is not meaningless’: A message of hope when dealing with pain

man holding woman's hand hospital bed
“We’re not looking for suffering,” says Saint Paul Seminary alum Fr. Kyle Kowalczyk. “What we do when we have it, though?”

On Jan. 14, Heidi Keiser — a devout Catholic, wife, mother of five and parishioner at the Church of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Delano, Minnesota — passed away at the age of 43.

According to Keiser’s CaringBridge site, before severe effects of toxic shock syndrome and a Group A strep infection claimed her life, she had sent an email to pastor and Saint Paul Seminary alum Fr. Kyle Kowalczyk regarding human suffering. It quickly became the topic of Kowalczyk’s next weekend homily, and an audio recording of it (available below) has been making the rounds on social media.

“We’re not looking for suffering,” Kowalczyk says in the sermon. “What do we do when we have it, though?

fr kyle kowalczyk saint paul seminary alum
Fr. Kyle Kowalczyk (Catholic Spirit)

“If you knew that whatever you’re suffering right now was giving somebody the grace for a deathbed conversion, would it be worth it? If you knew that your suffering right now, whatever it is, was freeing souls from purgatory, would it be worth it?”

Keiser’s CaringBridge site says Kowalczyk first gave the homily “at the moments of her greatest suffering and departure from this life into the arms of Jesus.”

“It was one of those homilies that just hit a chord,” Kowalczyk said on his Facebook page. “I share it … with hopes that it may bless you.

“In Jesus, our suffering is not wasted.”

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