Members of St. John Vianney Parish in Omaha bring to life the coming of Jesus into the world Dec. 12 as part of the parish’s 16th annual living nativity scene. From left are: Will Gottsch (shepherd), Max Gottsch (wise man), Linda Geary (Mary), Joyce Hertzig (angel), Pat Geary (Joseph), Ken Ringer (wise man) and Ron Deyo (wise man). Gallon milk jug luminaries lit the way for people to drive by and take in the scene. Due to the pandemic, this year’s event did not include indoor snacks and refreshments. The two-night event, Dec. 11-12, involved numerous parishioners taking part in half-hour shifts. MIKE MAY/STAFF


Jesus still makes himself incarnate today: Four in mentorship program testify to his presence

“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” – Jn 1:14

The Incarnation happened more than 2,000 years ago, but it never really ended. God continues to take flesh in people’s lives.

Four people, who have taken part in a mentorship program run by the archdioce’s Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, describe how they have experienced the Incarnation, writing their responses through emails.


“The Lord has always been present in my life,” wrote Kathy Slusarski of St. Stanislaus Parish in Duncan. “My most profound and recent ‘Incarnation’ of the Lord in my life has come after the death of my beloved husband (Don, who died in 2013).

“I live on the farm that has been in my family for over 60 years. After my husband passed away, I thought I would have to move from my beloved home.

“I have always believed that the Lord has a plan for each of us. This plan was made incarnate through a number of very special people in my life. My children have been very supportive, always being there if I need something done. My brothers and my brothers-in-law have helped me with maintenance around the farm. I have an amazing young man that rents my farm ground and is a great steward of the land. Many supportive friends have come forward to offer invitations to dinner and supportive words in times of doubt. My church family has offered me many opportunities to be the ‘hands and feet’ of our Lord.

“My days are filled with the ‘Incarnate Lord.’”


“God’s presence is like a floodlight in my life,” wrote Mary Rossman, of St. James Parish in Omaha. “I’ve come to see him in everything: in my spouse, in my family, in my friends, in the marginalized, in the lost, in the beauty of nature, and yes, even in those I most struggle with. Each and every day I work diligently to pay attention to his guiding hand in my life, and I continue to remain intrigued to see how he will reveal himself to me as he continually teaches me about love and about life.”

“As far back as I can remember, I was drawn to the bright Star of Bethlehem which hovered over the cave where Jesus was born. This star’s brilliant light drew the shepherds as well as guided the wisemen to the Christ Child, God made man. The fact that these men fixed their eyes on the brilliance of this star to discover the Christ Child intrigued me. As long as their eyes were fixed on the light, they would not lose their way. At the end of the journey, they would discover Jesus, the Light of the World.

“The importance of God’s light continues to work in my life today. As long as I keep my eyes fixed on the Light of Christ, I won’t lose my way. I will discover Jesus. Jesus reveals himself to me not by the Star of Bethlehem but the light of Christ that works in others. Through God’s grace, countless people have allowed the light of Christ to shine through them to me. I see the light of Christ through their examples, in how they live and share their lives. …

“Through their truth, beauty and goodness, God’s grace invites me to go deeper into relationship with him, grounding myself in my identity as his beloved daughter – the daughter he created me to be.

“I’m on my knees in gratitude for God’s grace and the people he has placed in my life that have drawn me into the light of Christ, that I, too, may shine his light. God’s light continues to explode in brilliance all around me as I deepen my life in prayer, in study, and in good works.

“Our world is growing in darkness and desperately needs the light of Christ. … Let’s allow our God to shine within us that we may bring love, comfort and security to a world that has lost its way. If we join together, the light of Christ within each of us will shatter the darkness of this world with the brilliant beauty of our God because we are a people of hope and we have a Father who never reneges on his promises! Let us prepare the way of the Lord! Amen!”


Michael Koenig, of St. Gerald Parish in Ralston, considers himself “the luckiest man on earth because of God’s great generosity in my life.”

“Though this year has been plagued by fear, anxiety and hopelessness in the world, Christ has made it easily the best year of my life,” Koenig wrote. “He has done this through the repeated revelation of himself to me through prayer, people and praise. I am extremely grateful for all God has led me into this year and for all he has given me.”

Prayer: “Though 2020 at times has made it more difficult to visit the adoration chapel as much as I’d like, God has still called me into deep prayer … mostly around Scripture meditation. I experience the Incarnation daily in prayer, but sometimes God is gracious and draws me deeper than I would’ve believed I could go.

“For example, meditating on the Crucifixion of Christ I found myself trembling on the ground as God so perfectly revealed His love for me through Christ as He placed me at the foot of the Cross with Mary and John. As Christ was crucified I could see the love in Christ’s eyes as He looked at me weeping under Him. I have never experienced such an excruciating peace in my life. It was through this revelation of pure self-sacrifice that I now understand what it means to love those around me as Christ calls me to.”

People: “Coming into 2020 I had no Catholic friends around my age (22); however this year, in the face of COVID-19, God has graced me with an abundance of gracious and holy friends that continually lift me up and walk with me towards Christ. I have especially experienced the Incarnation of Christ through my friend Johnny Murray this year, who has been a model of holiness in my life.

Praise: “This fall I was on a silent retreat at the Broom Tree Retreat (& Conference) Center in South Dakota. There God healed me of an addiction that had been a thorn in my side for a very long time. It was in the church building after a group adoration hour. Once the hour was over I felt prompted to stay and continue praying. I continued to lay down my burdens at Christ’s feet, and he gave me the lyrics to a song that I hadn’t heard in over a year: ‘You come in a still small voice, and you say, let there be light … and there is light … and light shines in the darkness.’

“As I sang these words repeatedly, they grew louder and louder, bursting forth from me. As I sang, in my mind I followed Jesus into the depths of my heart, where it was cold and dark. There I could see my black heart darkened by my sin and shame. Then I watched as Jesus touched it. At that moment it became a vibrant red and flames rose above it, and the dark landscape became bright rolling hills. In this moment Christ so clearly revealed to me that he healed me of that addiction, and he did so that I might receive his love and be united with him in a deeper way than ever before.”


God has revealed himself to Vita Coffey, of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Omaha, during her ongoing struggles with multiple sclerosis and in happier times, when she became part of the mentorship program and after an annulment of a previous marriage was finalized and her current marriage was blessed.

“There was a point in my life that I felt so lost and afraid,” Coffey wrote. “When I was a newly divorced single parent of three children and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I dealt with tremendous daily struggles, walking with a cane, loss of my sight at times, not being able to talk, or worse yet, forgetting simple words, losing my train of thought. I believed I would end up in a nursing home because this form of MS was very aggressive and my doctors did not have great hope for me. I was in and out of hospitals very often during the first 10 years of this disease.

“So I applied and was accepted into an MS study in Seattle, Washington. They only took 25 people out of the hundreds that applied. By all accounts I should have never been accepted into this study. I was over 50, had severe memory loss, could not walk without a cane and … was in and out of a wheelchair. Not a great recipe for a good outcome, but by the grace of God I was accepted, and there I started my journey to a much … fuller life with Jesus.

“Honestly, I don’t think I realized it, but a miracle happened and my life turned around. It was intense!”

Coffey went through rigorous chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. “But God was with me, and though I couldn’t remember much, Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,’ was my constant companion.”

She says she lost a lot because of the MS: friends, “memories of my children when they were small,” a loss in the function of body parts and activities she used to be able to do.

During a two-year recovery, she asked “Why God? Why me? I questioned how I could be a good mother. … I was angry. But now when I look back I see God’s hand in everything that I did and am still doing. This transplant did not totally cure my MS, but I fought hard to come back.”

“God is so good. Since my miracle I’ve dedicated my time, talent and treasures to doing for others. … But it wasn’t until the last few years, when I was accepted into the mentorship program … that my thirst and hunger for the Lord was really awakened! Through books, lectures, retreats and sitting with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, all my relationships took on a whole new meaning. I learned how much more I loved being Catholic and how wonderful it was to have such a beautiful relationship with God!”

For many years, Coffey was unable to receive Holy Communion because she was divorced and remarried. But then she received an annulment and had her marriage blessed. “Needless to say, it was a joyous day,” she said.

“I think of Jesus’ Incarnation and being brought into our world as a humble baby born in a manger. It fills my heart with so much love. He is living within reach, and even though I sin, I am grateful to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and penance.

“Even now as I suffer chronic and new pain daily from the effects of my MS and transplant, I offer it up to Jesus at the foot of his cross. That doesn’t mean I don’t get down or depressed, but it’s nothing like it was years ago because I have this fire for our Lord and I can constantly turn to him amidst my craziness and ask the Holy Spirit to help me stay focused. I truly do not fear what may happen tomorrow. Jesus is here, and I am so grateful he has come!”

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For more information on the mentorship program, visit

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