Faith makes family that much sweeter

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Sydney mums Marthe Azzi, Madeleine Carrington, Chantel Czeczotko and Angela Chehade make sense of the joys and hardships motherhood through their faith. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Mums share reasons for hope in lead up to special Mass

Love continues to blossom for these four glowing women preparing to welcome their early Christmas bundles of joy. 

Despite varying journeys to marriage and motherhood Marthe Azzi, Madeleine Carrington, Chantal Czeczotko and Angela Chehade have one thing in common as they each prepare for the birth of a child in the coming weeks. 

Even apart from the challenges of pregnancy during a pandemic, each of the women have faced difficulties and even heartbreak along the way, but they say that their faith in God has given them purpose, meaning and courage – and above all, much happiness. 

Their one message?  

Life is no bed of roses, and marriage and family is not for the faint-hearted, but in every circumstance a child is always a gift to be treasured. 

Madeleine Carrington and husband Simon with their son Joseph. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“There’s never a good time to have a baby,” laughs Chantel Czeczotko, who lives in a Campsie apartment with her husband Piotr and their two-year-old son Antoni.
“Piotr says that and it’s true.

People say oh, it’s not a good time because of the career or whatever and maybe next year we’ll try, but I think openness gives you a freedom to love, to ‘take the bull by the horns’ he would say, or let go and let God.”

Antoni is
 the boy behind the heartbeat which was broadcast around the world during Sydney’s two Stand for Life rallies in August and September last year to protest NSW’s abortion law.

“It’s normal and human to feel afraid and scared” – Chantel Czeczotko

“At first we were both completely stoked, but then it did freak me out a bit to be having children so close together. And then I thought, ‘Well, if this is happening then God seems to think that I can handle it’ so I shouldn’t then doubt myself.

“He’s trusting me with another soul, so I need to have courage and continue to say yes to his will. I feel a lot more connected to Mother Mary and rely on her more now.”
Chantel was still on maternity leave when the pandemic hit and affected Piotr’s employment.

“It’s normal and human to feel afraid and scared, and it’s going to be a bit of a pinch financially, but you tend to be a little bit smarter about finding out when the sales are on and being less attached to material things,” Chantel said.

The Chehade family is awaiting the birth of its youngest member. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“My cousin’s wife would always say with every child comes a loaf of bread and somehow you manage. “I love that part in the Bible when Jesus says to look at the birds and the grass in the fields, how God takes care of them, how much more will he take care of you, a human being?”

 

Marthe Azzi agrees that while life is “not all rainbows and butterflies” her growing Guildford family is enormously blessed. With husband Charlie and two-year-old daughter Emilia, the family will welcome another little girl this week. Marthe faced a complication in her first pregnancy and said this one has gone “a lot better”.

“I grew up with the concept that family is about raising children, but I met Charlie in my 30s and didn’t marry until I was 33 so we had to prepare ourselves for the possibility that we may not be able to have a family. But we were very blessed, we got pregnant almost immediately. 

“No matter how much you think you know about having a child it’s very different when you experience it for yourself. The weight of the responsibility of having someone else that is completely dependent on you.

“As much as you see other people going through it and see good examples of that, the gravity of that responsibility doesn’t really sink in until it’s yours.

Marthe and Charlie Azzi with their daughter Emilia.
Marthe and Charlie Azzi with their daughter Emilia. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“I asked God to give me the grace for that, I know I fall short in many aspects of my life and it takes a lot to courage to pick yourself up and see where you’ve fallen short, to keep trying to improve.

“Our experience is a testament to trusting in God’s plan for you, but I know that is easy to say in retrospect
. It’s difficult particularly as a lady when the years go by and fertility is not infinite when you are starting to come to terms with the idea that maybe God’s plan for you does not involve having a family.”

Angela 
Chehade said she is used to being greeted with shock when people realise she and husband Georges are expecting their seventh child. “I don’t take it personally, and the people we choose to spend time with are very supportive of us,” she said.

But others who think I’m probably crazy or whatever, when they see the family and get to know us they often say, ‘You know what? You are blessed’.

 

“God will bring good out of everything” –  Angela Chehade

“When people see that you are willing to have children and are able to provide for them, they can see that large family life is a good thing.

The little boy due in two weeks’ time will join siblings Dominic and Christopher, both 8, Juliana, 7, Amin, 6, Isabella, 4 and Imelda, 2.
The Ingleburn family has had its fair share of sicknesses, injuries and other challenges including Angela’s first miscarriage just before this latest little one was conceived, but the Chehades are very happy to be open to children, firmly convinced that “God will bring good out of everything”.

“It’s a lot of hard work for both of us, it’s not easy going and I’ve got around 10 years of fertility ahead of me but every one of our children have been wanted and welcomed from the very beginning,” Angela said.

Bishop Richard Umbers
 is inviting all expectant mothers for a special blessing at the annual Mass for Expectant Mothers at St Mary’s Cathedral on 12 December, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

Registration is essential at 
www.sydneycatholic.org/expectantmothers-register 

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