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Lissette's Testimony

Testimony of

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Lissette shares her Conversion story with all her respect.

Ms. Lissette Maria Dernier, O.P., was born in San Turce, Puerto Rico to Ciprian and Ana Dernier, the younger of their two children.  Her family moved to New York City when Lissette was a year old and settled in a three family house in the South Bronx with her father, mother, brother, paternal grandmother, paternal aunt, two uncles and cousin.

Lissette was blessed to attend Catholic school in the Bronx:  St. Anselm’s Grammar School, Cathedral High for all girls and St. Helena’s Business High School.  At St. Anselm’s, Lissette was taught by Dominicans nuns and preachers. Praise God, St. Anselm’s Catholic Church is serving the community and an honor to say that St. Anselm’s Catholic school is still open with almost 500 children attending. She was also influenced by her very devout grandmother who taught her all about the many different saints, spirituality and having a relationship with our family in Heaven.  Lissette’s father, Ciprian, was a member of the Society of the Holy Name of Jesus.  As a young girl, Lissette became a member of the Daughters of Mary and attended monthly meetings dressed in her white and blue uniform and beautiful white veil.  She always had an Altar, which she would adorn with different statues, of the many Saints, and always, flowers for our Lady Of The Immaculate Conception.  Lissette desired to enter the Cloistered Dominican Monastery, located near Hunts Point Avenue, in South Bronx and visit and stayed many times, at Blauvelt, also Dominican Sisters, infused with great love for Jesus Christ. Lissette was aware of her family in Heaven.

Lissette’s parents owned a number of different businesses, a Shoe Repair, Deli/Grocery, Variety Gift & Clothing Shop and a Social Club.  She and her older brother Miguel would go to their parents’ businesses to help after school each day.  From her earliest years, Lissette recalls helping with activities such as boxing shoes, shining shoes on a machine, replacing the heel tips on ladies shoes and most of all, interacting with the steady stream of customers.  Lissette explains, “I have always dealt with the public, the many people in and out of our businesses, especially the Deli/Grocery. Lissette said, business in New York City is nothing like here in Rochester.  She was naturally very friendly and open, especially with her faith, sharing in conversation with the many different personalities that would come by.  People would come to Lissette to talk about their problems and needs, even spirituality.  There were so many different characters, people in need, abused and battered wives or children, drug addicts, the sick, the homeless, alcoholics, elderly, people of different nationalities, the drug dealers, gang members, all of many different faith denominations.  In the midst of all of this, her family was loved by such a diversity of people. Lissette, also was there for her family and was a caring  person for the many people in need in her community. Lissette explains, “Many were good people and some not so good but they all would share with me and I with them. After so many years, it became easy for her to recognize, who was down to earth and  a for real person.  God always protected us and the angels and saints were praying for us. South Bronx, became dangerous surroundings.  Some customers she saw regularly and many just once in a lifetime.  It seemed strange to have a long conversation with someone you would never see again, gone, on his or her journey. Here today, a reality and gone tomorrow or the next moment.  I had wonderful, loving, caring, parents but I also feel that, I was raised, by the public.  My son has the same lovely friendly personality and loves to share.

As a family, we never ate dinner together seated at a table.  We were always at the business, especially when mom and dad got into the Grocery business, that was 7 days a week, 17 hours a day. Before that, it was different, dad use to take us to Church, shopping in Manhattan, especially during Christmas time, it was nothing like these days, Rockefeller Center, Broadway, China Town, City Musical Hall, Movies, Shows, and Skating, Puppet Shows, etc. Lissette had a wonderful, fun, active life as a little girl coming up in New York City, with her brother Mike. 

Again, until, her parents got into the Deli/Grocery business. We always had these words in our mouths, “Hello”, “Good Evening”, "Can I help you?" or “Thank you.  Come again!”  We would take a bite and run to the counter to wait on other customers, and then run back to the kitchen, then back to the counter while stocking up the refrigerators with milk, beer and soda and meeting with salesmen.”  Many times, Lissette had to go shopping for groceries and stock, for the Grocery Store at the Public Market and the huge Food Wholesale Companies. That was where Lissette met, many Grocery Store business owners. Lissette’s upbringing instilled in her a tremendous work ethic, happy childhood, full of action and love.  It was the best school of diversity, culture, business, people, faith communities, personalities, characters and spirituality that anyone could ever experience.

As a young woman, Lissette worked with youth and young adults in her neighborhood at an anti-poverty program, she did some Secretarial work, and even worked as a Travel Agent, here in Rochester, NY.  Lissette truly enjoyed her work with the Anti-Poverty program, working with all kinds of people, even the Youth. There she had many responsibilities, one of which was coordinating youth block parties and other events. Lissette loves to coordinate and implement, planning Events.  She also served as a housing specialist, helping people that were evicted or had problems with their landlords or needed assistance during a court appearance.  She also helped the Hispanic community and close family, as a translator.  Lissette attended a local college, called Hostoss in South Bronx and worked as a telephone operator on 167th Street in the Bronx off the Concourse.  As the years passed, the South Bronx became a ghost town infested with Heroin and other hard drugs.  The addicts would come to Lissette for money, food and sometimes just to share their burdens. 

Her father would always tell her, “Lissette, you will never have anything!  You want to give it all away and you trust everyone!”  Lissette was deeply in love with the Lord and had felt a calling since a very young in age.  Her grandmother knew of her calling and helped her in her spirituality.  Lissette went on to St Helena’s Business High School.  Yet soon, at age eighteen she was married at St. Ann's Church in the South Bronx and had a son, Victor Jr. and now three grandchildren and a wonderful daughter in law.  A few years later, Lissette’s marriage ended in divorce.

In her adult life, Lissette moved upstate to Rochester, NY and in 1974, and amazingly, Lissette, drove City Bus for Regional Transit in Rochester, NY. She was in awe, when she first saw a woman bus driver and asked her, for information. Lissette worked as a City bus driver from 1974 to 1979, then moved back to the Bronx in 1981, with her son. She managed for her parents, their last Mini Super-Market, for 13 years. Lissette also speaks of her son and his involvement in the Deli/Grocery, as he got older, he worked just as much. They all took turns in the Business if not, they would have had to close the business for vacation and Lissette’s father, wouldn’t allow that. During this time, Lissette took up Travel and received a Diploma. After her parents retired, in 1993, Lissette moved back to Rochester and later, in 1994, Lissette was joined, by, her parents, as her father was sick with cancer. Victor her son, also moved to Rochester, with his wife and first child.  In 1995 she opened her first grocery store working tirelessly seven days a week, seventeen hours a day, with never a thought of a different way of life.  She would tell everyone, “I have grocery in my blood”.  Her life here, in business was almost like much slower.  Lissette struggle, working hard, for those 6 years.

One day, one of Lissette’s cook, told her, Lissette, you are a Fisherwoman of souls. She never thought in a million years, God’s plan for her. Amazing but truth!  She was always with her Bible and the word of God in her lips. For many years Lissette, lived, one foot in and one foot out, serving more than one Master, a sinner telling another sinner, where to go and receive the Bread of Life, the Eternal Life. That was until the Lord called her on August 23rd of the Jubilee year of 2000, the Feast of St. Rose of Lima when Lissette experienced a deep conversion.  Lissette was going through trials and her business was not going well.  Soon her business was closed and for three months Lissette prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy every morning with EWTN and then ran off to attend Holy Mass.  Everyone was urging Lissette to file bankruptcy and to sell everything in the store.  Meanwhile, Lissette was in prayer, getting closer to the Lord at Sacred Heart Cathedral, which she still visits on her own, for private prayer, in front of the new beautiful Tabernacle.  In the year Jubilee of 2000, she received a very powerful calling.  She was being called to leave her old life and step beyond to a new and deeper spiritual life in Christ. 

Lissette waited upon the Lord and trusted Him for three months while her business was closed.  During her three months in the desert, Lissette felt nothing but shame, guilt, regret, fear of God and great sorrow for having offended Him and for having hurt others.  She couldn’t eat.  All of her sinful life of darkness was before her and she could see how blind and lost, she had been.  Her tears were as tears of blood.  She was full of love but felt lost as she was being transformed.  Her family, were telling her, sell the equipment, sell the business, but, Lissette was waiting upon her Lord. Lissette said, waiting upon the Lord, is never time wasted. After her desert experience, God, showed her, one Sunday, the day Sister Faustina was canonized a Saint, a Rainbow around the Sun, over her home. Lissette, called her mother, and she told her mother, Abba Father, is telling me, deliverance is close.

The following two weeks, the Lord sold her business.  She then went on pilgrimage to Quebec with her parents to the shrines of Our Lady of the Cape and St. Ann’s of Beaupre.  Upon their return, Lissette’s parents noticed a supernatural change in her and her talk and life style.  She was transformed completely.  Lissette was on fire for the Lord and was never the same again. Lissette, said, she died to her old life but it was the Lord, through the Holy Spirit that called her. Yet, she said, it was powerful, like, the conversion St. Paul had. It wasn’t like, Jesus came and asked me, or go ahead and take your time, no, it was a immediate, transformation of mind, heart, will and soul. Lissette knows now, who is in her blood, the lover of her soul, Jesus Christ, Holy Trinity. Her early days of conversion, was a fire, a passion, deep love and a desire only for God and what pertained to God. Nothing else, was of any interest to her. Lissette, has not watched television, in 8 years, nor listen to radio, just into her Scriptures, spiritual books, Dominican studies on theology and spiritual music, chant. Lissette loves her Monks and her Dominican preachers and family. After her day as a servant,, Lissette has her Cell.  Lissette is a repentant sinner, offers her self to God daily, allowing the Spirit to lead her, in her obedience, she follows. Lissette said, I offer my iniquities, my imperfections, weaknesses, to the lover of my soul and He keeps me safe and on track.

The same year her business was sold, Lissette became a parishioner of St. Philip Neri parish and served as a volunteer, for three Parishes.  Her pastor, Father Timothy Horan was a great influence on Lissette in her new spiritual journey in Christ. Father Horan gave Lissette a Staff, and told her, “Go Get Them Girl”. Lissette still has her wooden Staff and will use it one day as she will preach and give her Testimony, in the name of Jesus.  Lissette confided to him her transformation of mind, heart, will and soul to God.  She told him that she didn’t understand it fully, that it was strange and different.  Her joy and tears came daily. Lissette, said, she was led, to prayer and service, by the Holy Spirit, every day.  Father Horan could see her passion and fire and recommended that she attend a “Fire Rally” in Buffalo, NY.  There Lissette had the opportunity to meet Steve Martin from EWTN.  He is a great Evangelist.

Lissette returned from the conference even more on fire for the Lord!  Lissette knew and understood then that she was being called to be a witness for Christ as an Evangelist and Preacher.  She understood that she was born again to a new life and dead to the old life and the world.  Yet, she asked, “me Lord?”  She asked this in great humility, knowing of her littleness and worthlessness. The Lord became the lover of her soul and she was serious about living only for Him.  Lissette also received a cross to carry in the same year of Jubilee of  2000.  Lissette now understood where she had been, where she is now and why … Jesus!  She knew Jesus brought her out of darkness into the light, in the most powerful way.

Lissette was leading others to the Bread of Life, yet, not being obedient nor living the Gospel life as we are called to do.  Yet, she needed to serve only one Master, instead of one foot in the world and one foot out of the world. Lissette said to me, only the Holy Spirit, could convert a soul. Jesus is our Savior! Lissette knew that even as a sinner, the Lord uses her and now she is a repentant sinner, for her, conversion is a daily process until we die. Yet, she said, it’s a great experience, knowing that God is in charge of my life now. She said, I am serious and I pray daily for His forgiveness, blessings and guidance.

In 2001, Lissette was led by the Spirit to be trained in evangelization under the Diocese of Rochester and began volunteering at three local parishes.  This led to her appointment as the Chair of Evangelization of six parishes in the City East Communities under Father Timothy Horan.  One day, after Mass, Father Horan presented Lissette with her Certificate of Evangelization. That same year, 2002, she began volunteer work at St. Ann’s Nursing Home.  In 2002, Lissette was led by the Spirit to become a Campus Minister at the SUNY College University, at Brockport, a work that she continues to the present.  Again, she asked the Holy Spirit, me Lord?  From 2002 to 2005, Lissette coordinated many outstanding local evangelization events, missions and pilgrimages.  She started her “Reach Out & Touch” evangelization ministry in the community of Charlotte and began seeking resources for food for the different food pantries in the community of Charlotte. The Open Door Mission, Mr. Fox, helped her with food for the Pantry and she helps him with frozen Pie’s during the Holidays.

Lissette continued coordinating fundraisers and requesting donations of canned goods and supplies, school supplies and toys, never did she asked for money.  As a Campus minister, Lissette involved the students in her “Reach Out & Touch” ministry.

Lissette coordinated an American Red Cross expo in the Community of Charlotte and a few health and evangelization events at Ontario Beach Park to help create awareness of the Catholic faith, provide health information and information about the many departments and services offered by the American Red Cross.  Lissette was also a member of the End Of Life committee.  Working together they published a Pain Management booklet in English and Spanish.  Lissette was also a member of the Consistent Life Ethics committee of the Diocese of Rochester.

In 2006, the Lord spread Lissette’s work outside of western New York to the east coast of the United States, as she was privileged to become the East Coast Promoter of the traveling exhibition of Eucharistic miracles for the Real Presence Association of Chicago, IL. Lissette has coordinated many successful and well attended Eucharistic conferences in conjunction with the exhibition.

Lissette explains, “Since the Lord sold my Deli/Grocery in the Jubilee year of 2000, I have become a Lay Dominican, this was my second calling and have been serving Him as He leads me.  I trust the Lord and live an extremely contemplative, monastic life, in mystical unity with the Holy Trinity, in prayer, contemplation, community, apostolate, service and study, obedience, trusting our Master & Savior, the Dominican way of spirituality.  We have a hunger and zeal to share the fruits of our Contemplation with others, giving others what Christ has bestowed upon us, sharing my experiences and materials. Sharing Jesus Christ daily, instructing, teaching, preaching, living, celebrating, the Gospel Life in Christ. It is about Jesus, His teaching, His promises and His holy life. We live in such joy and delight because Jesus Christ is the Truth within us and that’s the truth and love we live to share.  The flame of the Dominican way, started by the Dominican nuns and preachers who influenced me in my youth has become a passion and fire deep within me. Even today, I share all I do out in the world with my Dominican Preachers and family. I always share what God gives me and I invite others if they care to get involved. Each one of us are called differently with the many different Charisma!  I never used to like to read.  My Spiritual Director and Chaplain Father Richard O’Connell, which I love very much, inspired me and encouraged me all these years, leading me on the right spiritual path. I have been blessed to have Him and I know God put us together.

Father Richard O’Connell, always tells me, Lissette, God is on your side, and I can spiritually see that.  Fear not, he says, don’t over do and stay out of mischief. Now I can't put down my spiritual books!  I mostly buy all my spiritual books at the Abbey of Geneseo and Father O’Connell after he reads his, give them to me. Father Richard should have been a Dominican because his life is also, study, contemplative, community, apostolate and deep prayer, even in his elderly retired days. He prays the Rosary and does the Chaplet every day, along with daily Mass that many times he celebrates. He is still in action even though he is retired.  I am truly blessed.

Lissette said, the Holy Spirit bestows upon us many virtues and gifts that help us to grow on our personal spiritual journeys and we help other souls.  I am no longer blind or lost, by the grace of God. We are called to be holy and to live the gospel life, and to GO and preach the truth of long ago. Jesus said, He will be with us till the end of time.

 God is my devotion and my life, my first and only interest. It is like, reaching that point in life when you know, what you heard in Catholic School, “We are born to love God, with all our strength, heart, will and soul. That is a great joy and delight, daily in my life. He is there also to correct and instruct me, keeping me in the right path and in His statutes. How deep do you desire our Lord to take you?  How much are you willing to give up for Him?

It is about being, dead to the world and will keep dying to self by the grace of God who transforms us daily.  Infused in a mystical union of love, I see Him clearly involved in the details of my daily life and in the lives of others.  His missions, continues through us, His vessels, channels and instruments.  Lissette is full of mercy, love and forgiveness but preaches truth, with conviction, worrying about her soul and the souls of others.

As we pray the Liturgy of The Hours, we pray for each other, as one prayer, united in our one true Church.  Together with the faith of a mustard seed, we build and press on.  As a lay Dominican, the Spirit keeps entrusting me with different apostolates.  All for the glory and honor of God!  Not I but Christ!  In humility we know that we are nothing and that we can do nothing without the Lord.  The Holy Trinity, God is in control and we must allow Him to be God.”  I am last and a servant, in the peace of God. Lissette said, she is a witness to Christ and will preach her past, where she was and where God has her today, in His love and mercy!

In Christ, St. Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine Of Siena, Moses & Elijah

May our Blessed Mother keep us under her Holy Mantle!   Veritas!

Ms. Lissette Maria Dernier, O.P.

In Spirit & Truth!

Ms. Lissette Maria Dernier, O.P.
94 Springfield Avenue
Rochester, New York 14609
Mobile: 585 260-1255

Scripture Phrases
Latin Vulgate

 Hebrews 13: 17
1 Peter 2: 13-15

Matthew 6: 25-34
Psalm 91: 1-2

Hebrews 13:18
Luke 6: 31

James 1:13-14
1 Peter 5: 8-9

Psalm 36: 3
Psalm 62: 8-10



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