It all began with a conviction ... a love for Mary. Cheri Lomonte started as an amateur and then professional photo journalist. She decided to visit shrines of the Blessed Virgin--these were places that seemed to draw her to them. She went there out of adventure, love for beauty and an inner love that she could identify only later in prayer and an amazing ministry. At those places of quiet devotion, she began hearing heart-stopping personal accounts from faith-filled people on how Mary had heard their petitions and lives had changed. She recorded these stories and began to travel even more to take photographs and collect more accounts--to Nicaragua, Peru, Italy, France, and throughout the United States. They are not grandiose theologies, but they are the spoken testimony and revelation spoken in real-life accounts from those touched by Mary. Eventually, these were published in Lomonte's The Healing Touch of Mary, by Divine Impressions in 2005.
Lomonte discovered that there is a fascinating connection between our human world and spiritual reality. Readers did find, and still find today, this collection of moving affirmations to be inspiring, giving hope to a broken and so often hurting world.
But Mary wasn't finished touching Lomonte's life. Growing in her skill at photography and collecting people's living stories, she had to quit her regular job and go to work for Mary and Mary's Son fulltime. She says: "Since the day I made that decision, wonderful things have happened to me. I believe Mary’s presence is affecting my life. I trust her. I know she is here for us." And, so, from her own day-to-day existence, Lomonte has her own miracle to tell. From the book came another idea. She teamed up with Sally Robb who had theological education combined with a taste of Christian radio experience. A new and powerful project began ... Mary's Touch Radio, where the tender and amazing personal stories of Mary in people's lives could be told to even more who would listen. http://www.marystouch.org/index.html
Today, Mary's Touch Radio beams across the Midwest. The web page lists numerous radio station times. In August 2008, Lomonte learned that their radio programming had earned the prestigious Gabriel Award for Excellence sponsored by the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals. They were honored for achieving the Academy's criterion: to uplift and nourish the human spirit.
Mary wasn't done. The next project was to gather the testimonies from the first season of the radio show and publish them. Readers will find this newly-released book, Stories from Mary's Touch© Radio Program, to be a perfect companion during Lent, during the joys and sorrows of their own lives, and as a powerful affirmation of hope that Mary's Son offers if we but listen.
In the Foreword, the Most Rev. Gregory M. Aymond describes the new book as stories "from faith-filled individuals [who] give witness to their close relationship with Mary and the ways in which Mary has prayed for them, journeyed with them in life, and given them a sense of hope in times of difficulty."
Each of the stories is somewhat brief. But as the reader finishes each one, they are left with wonder. Some of the accounts seem almost unbelievable. Together, however, the stories form a modern-day scripture of faith. Father Kevin Rai describes the collection: "These stories are told with an art that does not come from purely human authorship. (They) remind us very poignantly that we, each of us and all of us, really do have a mother in heaven, a mother who watches over us, to whom we can turn in all our needs and troubles ... they reveal the true beauty of the church that Mary typifies. They unveil the face of a mother who deeply cares for her children and unceasingly prays for them."
But now another electronic sharing of faith has occurred to these contemporary Marian evangelists. The healing touch of Mary can be shared ... via a "MARYPOD." What is that you ask? It is an MP3 Player loaded with twenty Stories from Mary's Touch. Lomonte and Robb suggest slipping it into the pocket of one who is hurting--the homeless and the poor, our neighbors, even our family members. What an amazing new idea!
These stories are straightforward and vulnerable. The world may laugh at them. Even we, with our rational minds, may question them. But the "touch of Mary" is mystery. It is a work of God. Through uncomplicated and trusting lives, these people tell the story of Mary bringing the thirsty and the hurting, the needy and the broken to her Son, who is after all the Source of Life and Love.
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