So she was understandably delighted to meet the priest — 77-year-old Father Patrick (Pat) Thompson — in person on a foggy July morning at Holy Name of Jesus Church, where she has been a member since 2002 and attends the 7:30 a.m. daily Mass.“I’ve never seen this card before,” smiled Father Thompson as he examined the weathered but still intact 3-by-2-inch prayer card that Lafond enthusiastically showed him. “I even used the prayer card to make a poster for vocations as a homework assignment,” she told him. Glue marks are still on the back of the card that features the motto Tu es sacerdos in aeternum (“You are priests for eternity”).Lafond grew up with eight siblings in the “tight-knit” French-Canadian community of Manchester where she attended St. Theresa of the Infant Jesus School, operated by the Sisters of the Holy Cross.“I was a feisty little tomboy very close to Dad; he called me his tomboy princess,” she recalled, choking back emotion as she described accompanying her father on a 30-minute walk to attend Sunday Mass. “He was the first one to give me a prayer book.”When blue-collar worker Roland Henri Lafond died, the nun who handed her the prayer card encouraged Anita to “Pray for these men who are starting a new life,” as a way to help her in the grieving process. Of the seven priests listed on the card, four died and two left the order after 25 years. That leaves Father Thompson as the only active priest, working on what he calls a “reduced ministry mode.” He frequently celebrates Mass in English and Spanish at Most Precious Blood Parish in Chula Vista, where he helped strengthen the Hispanic ministries in the early 1990s, and at Santa Rosa Church in San Fernando, across the street from the center for retired Oblate missionaries, where he resides. Every month he travels to Mexicali, where he ministered for 24 years and co-founded Edusec, a center that provides education and health and social services to less fortunate families and at-risk children. With the help of the alumni of San Pedro’s Fermin Lasuen High School — where he worked as a teacher and athletic director for 10 years — Father Thompson still provides financial support to the nonprofit led by co-founder Belia Molina-Baez. Pointing to her photo in a high school yearbook, Lafond reminisced about those years when she started taking care of the sick to help her mother make ends meet. In 1974 she came to Los Angeles lured by the weather; her mother had passed away and all her siblings were living their own lives throughout the U.S. Life in L.A. was not easy, although she managed to get a job as a care giver. About ten years after arriving she was struck with uterine cancer, which left her partially disabled, but now cancer-free.While combating cancer, she took time to write a memoir and several poems, some about her father, as in “His Presence Never Seems To Stray” (Soft echoes from his old guitar/Still haunt when dreams take me too far/I can’t believe he’s gone away/His presence never seems to stray). She also painted and crafted cards that she sells at pop and mom stores. As a token of appreciation, Lafond handed one to Father Thompson, who in turn gave her a blessed Oblate Cross, similar to the one he was wearing on his neck. The cross is usually given to Oblate associates.And she donated three motorized wheelchairs to a medical clinic operated by the OMI, and gratefully received by the priest for whom she has been praying for five decades. “I’m in awe,” she said, “how God can plan for needs so far ahead.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0812/frpat/{/gallery}