What a difference a year makes.
A beaming Francois and Juliette Boissinot gratefully attended the St. Gianna Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Manhattan May 16.
Accompanying them was the gregarious Gregoire, their two-month-old son who is the answer to prayers made a year ago at the same Mass.
At last year’s liturgy, the Boissinots and three other couples—all of whom are close friends—asked God to bless each of them with a child they could call their own.
Of the four couples, one delivered a girl in January; the second had a boy in February; Gregoire Boissinot arrived in March and the fourth couple is expecting a girl in September.
“Everybody’s happy,” Mrs. Boissinot said.
The annual St. Gianna Mass was for the intention of those struggling with infertility and pregnancy-related difficulties, including recurrent miscarriage, and for their families and friends.
Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian pediatrician, wife and mother, was diagnosed with a uterine tumor during her fourth pregnancy in 1961. She and her husband, Pietro, refused treatment that would have harmed their unborn child, Gianna Emanuela, who was born in April 1962. Mrs. Molla died a week later of an infection. She was canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II in 2004.
The liturgy was sponsored by the archdiocese’s Family Life/Respect Life Office, St. Catherine of Siena Church, the Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry of New York and the Gianna Catholic Healthcare Center for Women in New York.
The Boissinots, members of St. Francis de Sales parish in Manhattan, marvel at their Gregoire.
“He’s a very nice child—healthy and fat,” joked Gregoire’s father, Francois Boissinot, 28, a business development consultant.
“It makes me feel part of humanity much more now,” added the baby’s mother, Mrs. Boissinot, 27, a strategy consultant for media and consumer goods. “And it brings a new light on your own parents, and what they did for you,” she said.
“It’s kind of magical,” Mrs. Boissinot continued. “We’d been trying to conceive for about a year. We were praying for a child.”
Because neither Boissinot believed their predicament was desperate, they also selflessly prayed for their childless friends.
“It’s about perseverance,” Mrs. Boissinot said.
She said space should be set aside to allow for an element of surprise and to permit the manifestation of God’s plans. “You just have to let go,” she said. “If it’s to happen, it will happen. If not, it probably means you have another mission,” which might include adoption.
Of the miracle of conception, the bottom line to keep in mind, Boissinot said, is that “it’s not in your hands.”
The Boissinots described as not prudent the practice of rushing to doctors who prescribe costly methods of conception that conflict with the teachings of the Church.
“A child is a gift,” Boissinot said. “It’s not something that is due” or to which one is entitled. “Keeping that in mind might make the coming of the child easier.”
That concept, he continued, is countercultural. “New York City’s a city of consumption. When somebody wants something, people buy it. It’s just not the same with a kid.”
The journey to parenthood has also reaped bountiful faith rewards for the Boissinots. “It’s actually helping us to pray together at home, because now we pray with him, above his crib, every night,” Mrs. Boissinot said of the prayer routine she and her husband share with baby Gregoire. “It’s very simple: ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘Our Father,’ so he gets in the habit.”
The Gianna Mass was equally poignant to Daniel and Genevieve Fiorito, members of Our Saviour parish in Manhattan. The couple adopted now seven-month-old Matteo Francesco within a year of attending last year’s liturgy.
“He’s just a joyful little boy,” said Daniel Fiorito, 37. “He wakes up with a smile” that seems to last all day.
“We call him ‘the ambassador of happy,’” added Mrs. Fiorito, 39. “He brings happiness to everyone,” even strangers on the subway and bus.
Fiorito, a self-employed camera assistant in the film industry, said fatherhood has helped him find more focus in life.
“After we adopted, I felt a lot of God’s grace, especially when I received Communion,” Mrs. Fiorito said. “I was always thankful before, but this was just an overwhelming sense of gratitude.”
Mrs. Fiorito is the data base manager for the archdiocese’s Safe Environment Office and the executive assistant to the director of the Family Life/Respect Life Office.
“Being a parent has helped me realize and reaffirm that God’s love is consistent, which was always a struggle for me before,” she said.
God’s unfailing love, she said, has come to the fore through their boy. “Just like we get up every morning and throughout the night, and we consistently feed and change and diaper him, and we do it with joy, that’s the kind of love God has for us when he’s consistently giving us gifts and taking care of us. And it’s from the joy and desire of his heart, not because he has an obligation to do so.”
Father Jordan J. Kelly, O.P., pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish, was principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass. The Dominican priest also serves as acting director of the Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry of New York.
Pointing out the proximity of the St. Gianna Mass to Pentecost Sunday, which was May 19, Father Kelly cited the desire of many in the congregation to “bear fruit.”
“We come together in thanksgiving, for those who have come and prayed, prayers have been answered … also in intercession, to pray for those who have found that the most natural thing can be most difficult. And we come together to pray that the Spirit’s gift may sustain all as they walk upon this path of life.”
“The fruit of your unity is not simply the offspring that you bear,” continued Father Kelly, but also “the light you are to others who walk the same path that you do.”
Petition cards placed in pews invited congregants to inscribe personal prayer intentions.
After Mass, time was allotted for the veneration of relics of St. Gianna.
At a reception that followed, Dr. Anne Nolte of the Gianna Catholic Healthcare Center for Women in New York; Virginia Corbett, coordinator of Natural Family Planning for the archdiocese, and additional Creighton fertility care practitioners, were available to speak with attendees.