By Anne DeRoo, Mother of Maria DeRoo, SPO Alumna
It's almost time to move my daughter, Maria, out of the Saint Paul’s Outreach women’s Household and back home before she starts her next journey as a full-time missionary with NET Ministries. Maria will be traveling the country to share God’s word with teenagers and their families through school and parish retreats.
As I reflect back over the last four years of her college experience, one HUGE part of her life that stands out is SPO. Maria has been a part of the SPO community since her freshmen year and has lived in a women's Household for the past three years, serving as a Student Missionary for two of those years and leading a bible study.
Sending a child to college for a parent is a bit scary; the hope is that your child finds a way to connect to her college life without losing the Catholic moral grounding that she was brought up with while growing up. For Maria, she quickly found SPO and I cannot begin to express my gratitude for what this community has done for her. To be in a community of believers and be able to live your faith is a true Godsend. This community was there for her with prayer, fellowship, fun and life.
The friendship and love of the SPO community was truly evident when her brother was diagnosed with cancer. The outpouring of prayer was unbelievable. Although Maria’s brother was unable to survive the cancer, the night of his visitation, carloads of women drove from Columbus to Fairfield to support Maria and be with her. During a prayer service by the Boy Scouts, the SPO ladies all took a seat in the room at the funeral home and took out their rosaries. That sight was so uplifting and spiritual to watch. Before the ladies went back to Columbus, they all put Maria in the center of their circle and, with hands extended, they prayed over her. The next day at the funeral, there were several ladies who came back down to support her. I know how much this community has meant to Maria while she has been grieving her brother's death.
To see the Holy Spirit working in such a powerful way was amazing. I have seen such a spiritual growth and understanding in her and her willingness to go out into the world and spread God's news is a blessing not only for her but for us as well.