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Tony Rossi

Radio Host/Producer

My Sister’s Death Led Me to Faith’
March 1, 2015

“If you save her life, I promise to dedicate my life to You.”

At age 19, Nicole Lataif made that promise to God while riding in the elevator at Boston Children’s Hospital where her 12-year-old sister was a few hours away from succumbing to cancer. Then, an instant later, Lataif changed her mind.

Speaking out loud, she said, “Even if You don’t save her life, I promise to dedicate my life to You.”

In a situation that might have driven some people away from believing in a loving God, Lataif’s humility and faith grew stronger. They would grow even more a few hours later when she and her parents sat with her sister on her deathbed, and her heartbroken mother told her child, “It’s okay, go be with Jesus.”

During an interview on “Christopher Closeup,” Lataif recalled, “I remember watching that in complete awe. I felt like I was watching the Virgin Mary when she had to sacrifice her son in the same way…That defining moment was when I realized this life is not about me. It never was. And so, [my sister's] death led me to faith.”

In the years since, Lataif has found a special way to live out her faith: she writes Catholic books for children, ages four to eight. Her first book, illustrated by Mary Rojas, was “Forever You: A Book About Your Soul and Body,” and it earned a 2012 Christopher Award for its vital message about “the soul being present in every moment, action and emotion in a child’s life.”

Lataif’s latest book, illustrated by Katy Betz, is “I Forgive You: Love We Can Hear, Ask For and Give”—and it was inspired by her own shortcomings when she was a child. “I was not a kid who knew how to forgive!” she exclaimed. “I held grudges, especially with my little brother. But yet I never thought I had a problem with forgiveness…until I became an adult. God will stack the bricks on your head if you need to learn something, and that’s exactly what happened.”

Lataif had no idea how to practice forgiveness until she discovered a book called “Forgiveness: A Catholic Approach” by Father Scott Hurd, published by the Daughters of St. Paul (who are also now her publishers).  That book, she says, “helped me through the process of forgiveness, processing my feelings, learning the Christ-like way to forgive step-by-step.”

One important concept in “I Forgive You” is summed up in the line, “God loves you. No matter what you do, He never says, ‘I’m through with you.’”

That doesn’t mean misbehaving doesn’t have consequences, but rather that God will forgive us anything if we ask Him. “And if we can recognize how merciful God has been to us,” says Lataif, “then we will recognize how much He loves us and we can therefore love others in forgiveness.”

Lataif closes the book with a beautiful children’s prayer meant to give kids an easy way to review all the steps involved in forgiveness. She concludes, “I wanted kids to bring their hearts and their forgiveness issues right to the hands of God because He’s ultimately the only one who can truly help them through this. This book is a tool, adults are a tool, but God is the answer. So, I wanted them to remember that in a concrete way and a detailed fashion, you can speak to God about what you’re going through and He will listen.”

For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, LISTENING TO GOD’S VOICE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: