By Dc. Tom Cuskey | Editor

Mom. The dictionary should provide synonyms for this three-letter title that include, in alpha order: advisor, advocate, caregiver, cleaner, confidant, cook, defender, disciplinarian, fan, friend, guardian, guide, lover, negotiator, nurse, psychologist, rulemaker, teacher. And we have only scratched the surface. 

Mom. Mother, ma, mama, grandmom, godmom. Others who so often contribute to the motherly process include aunts, sisters, cousins, friends, teachers, neighbors and more. Thank you, all of you!

Mom. We are pleased to share brief stories of four moms from around the diocese and what being a Mom on Mothers’ Day means to them. 

Katie and Justin Bushey with their son, Lincoln.

Katie Bushey, St. James Church, Johnson City

Katie and Justin Bushey welcomed their first, Lincoln Lawrence, in February. Motherhood, to Katie, “is so different and yet so similar to what I thought it would be.” With plenty of help and advice from family and friends, Katie admits that nothing really prepares one for motherhood, but she already knows that “it’s a love unlike anything you would ever have thought of before.” 

Katie admits that it was a “struggle to figure out how two becoming three would fit … who’s cooking dinner and who’s doing the laundry, things like that.” When the practical side of sharing and negotiating the ins and outs of this new way of life are put aside, though, she and Justin realize the deepening of their love that has occurred.

“I remember right after labor, Justin telling me how incredible it was,” Katie says. She adds that Justin shared that she was “‘sacrificing so much right now’” and “‘doing this for us.’” 

Of course, prayer and faith are at the foundation of Katie’s appreciation of this new stage of life. “Absolutely. The time that I find myself praying is in the middle of the night when it’s just me and Lincoln. … Prayer has changed more to a conversation. It’s thankfulness. I tell God thank you for giving me this gift.” Katie recognizes that life is so much busier now, and that finding prayer time is definitely harder “but I feel so much better after I have taken that time.” And her new definition of family includes this meaning: “Unconditional love has truly come through. It’s not about just us anymore.”

Emily and Eric Magnan with their four daughters.

Emily Magnan, Christ the King, Liverpool

Emily and Eric Magnan live in Baldwinsville but worship at Christ the King in Liverpool where Emily is the cantor for weekend Masses. When she started at the parish, there were no kids in the picture so the congregation there has been witness to the growth of the family which now includes 10-year-old Emma, Alice at 8, 4-year-old Claire and 2-year-old Sally. 

Emily and Eric married young and enjoyed four years of time together before they started their family. “I tell people we grew up together …, we developed our morals together and we had all that time to talk about what family life would look like, what we wanted it to look like.”

Emily says they are close to that model but in a big-picture way. “Sometimes it’s hard to see that when looking at it in an everyday sense.” 

Emily looks to her own mother as the source and inspiration of her own approach to motherhood. 

“There were five of us. … She was always patient, always let me help.” The best lesson her mom taught her was by example. “She just has a grace about her, always. She is my person, she is just the center of our family. She is the person you want to call with good news, with bad news. And if she doesn’t have the words, she just sits with you. That’s what I want to be like.” 

When asked how she goes about building a relationship with each of her girls, Emily says, “I try for one-on-one time, as often as we’re able to. It’s time to be available, to talk about whatever they want to talk about. To make it important.”

Aside from her weekend cantor duties, Emily is a stay-at-home mom.

“It’s everything, just to have that opportunity. I always say that no one can love your babies like you do. It’s the time to build the foundation of that relationship.”

Nina and Mark Ranieri and family.

Nina Ranieri, Holy Trinity, Utica

Parents Nina and Mark Ranieri have taken the stay-at-home approach one step further as their six children are home schooled.  

“Whenever I am asked, I always say we have six children on earth and two babies in heaven.” The family includes Olivia who is 12 years old, followed by son Mark at 10, Juliana at 8, Dominic at 5, 3-year-old Francis and 14-month-old Salvatore. Son Vinny was lost to stillbirth at 39 weeks of pregnancy six years ago. Another miscarriage loss occurred between Francis and Salvatore. 

Meeting the challenges of motherhood in an active family life is only possible for Nina through her faith. 

“I think it’s the central focus in my vocation of motherhood because without it, without God and trusting in God, in our Catholic faith, I don’t know how I could do it.” She adds that God “has entrusted these children to us and it’s only through his grace that each day I can do my best in motherhood.” 

Home schooling started four years ago and it was a result of their faith. “They are home with me every day and it’s beautiful that we get to do this journey together.” One of the benefits of home schooling Nina has discovered is a lesson for her as well. 

“You think you’re teaching them, and you are, but in so many ways they are teaching me, too.” Nina likens the experience of teaching and learning about the faith as an “iceberg. … This is what we know about our Catholic faith. But as we go deeper there is so much more truth and beauty, there is so much more to learn.”

“God gives you the grace to raise a big family in 2022,” she adds.

Jane Klaben with granddaughter Brittany.

Jane Klaben, St Patrick’s, Jordan, and Christ the King, Liverpool

Jane grew up in Cato in Cayuga County but worshiped for 40 years at St. Patrick’s, serving as parish secretary for 11 of those years. She lives in Baldwinsville now and attends Christ the King in Liverpool but is still active in Jordan. 

“I still go there on Saturdays and Mondays because I belong to the Legion of Mary there. I’ve been 45 years in the Legion.”

To say that Jane is a model of motherhood personified would be a serious understatement. She has 10 children of her own, 33 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren, and still counting. Next month, the family is expecting the birth of the first great-great grandchild. 

“I love being a mother,” Jane explains. “I had wonderful babies. … We are a very close family and I was very fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom for most of my time.” Jane’s husband, Daniel, passed away in 2015 after 63 years of marriage, and Jane adds that “we always had a beautiful family life. But being a mother is the most precious and beautiful gift that God ever gave me.” 

When asked who her best role model for motherhood was, Jane replies with a laugh that “actually, it was my husband. He felt the same way about children that I did. He wanted 12. We have 10 but we had two miscarriages so we have two in heaven. He got his 12. He was always a great help to me.”

Jane has always had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. Her favorite prayer is “‘Mother Mary, meek and mild, please help this child.’ And she has never, ever refused my request,” Jane adds.

What, then, is the best advice that someone with as much motherly experience as Jane can give to someone like Katie who is a new mom, just beginning her journey?

“Always let your children know you love them, no matter what they do,” she shares, “especially when they need it the most.” Spoken like a true Mom. 

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