Samantha Males Testimonial

Photo credit ‘Jon Jarvela Photographer’

Cygnet mother-of-five, grandmother-of-one and foster-mother-of-many, Samantha Males describes her journey to faith in God as a ‘slow burn’.

The 52-year-old says that she uses Biblical teaching as her guide in motherhood, prays first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and weaves prayer throughout her day. Baptised as a baby, her exposure to faith was minimal but at a Christian youth camp she learnt about Jesus and invited him into her heart.

“I felt the Holy Spirit move, and it was a real sensation of ‘God is with me now’. It was a lovely, wonderful, euphoric feeling. But there wasn’t any follow up.”

At 18 she left home to work on the mainland and travelled around Australia. She met her husband James, a fellow Tasmanian, and they continued to travel with work. A fisherman at the time, he has since become an accredited builder.

“When I met James, I thought: you are so resourceful, you can do everything,” Samantha said.

They settled back in Tasmania, in Franklin, and had their first child, Jack (now 26) and were married.

After Jack came a daughter, Molly, and another daughter, Annabelle. Molly and Annabelle both passed away before they were a year old.

“They died when Molly was 11 months old and Annabelle was nine months old. James and I carry recessive genes so one in five babies is born with this thing called spinal muscular atrophy.”

Genetic testing had declared Annabelle clear of the condition, but then she too was diagnosed.

“I remember just crying, and crying, and crying, and crying, and crying, and thinking: I’m going to die, I’m to die. I can’t do this again,” Samantha said.

“And then I just had this absolute wave of peace, and I just felt God was going to look after me. I could relinquish all control, I could surrender and let go of thinking I’m in control and let God take care of me. It was an utter feeling of peace.”

Samantha said that they knew their time with Annabelle wouldn’t be long, after their experience with Molly.

“We just had to be present and love her and give her all the love that we could,” she said.

“It was a more peaceful time, but still really hard.”

Different people reached out to them, including Jehovah’s Witnesses (“They taught me a lot about the Bible actually, they were great”) but when she went to one of their meetings, she realised it wasn’t for her.

Another friend, a fellow homeschooler, dropped around some Protestant preaching tapes.

“I started listening to Joyce Meyer tapes. It was like a balm for the soul,” she said.

“A lot of people said – including my own mother – and James, my own husband, said: ‘Let’s not have any more. We’ve got one healthy child, let’s just leave it.’”

But Samantha had a sense that their family wasn’t complete.

“It was just so healing when [Louis] was born. It was lovely. And then Hannah. Again, because she’s a girl, that was just wonderful. Another healing balm,” she said.

“And now I know Louis and Hannah so well – God has a plan. He really does.”

A ‘whole bunch of contributing factors’ lead to her becoming a Christian and eventually entering the Catholic Church.

“I needed God, I was open.”

A friend she admired became a Catholic.

“She showed me the Bible verses about the Eucharist … When she showed me that verse in John 6, I just thought: Oh my gosh, yes. It’s like when you know something, you can’t un-know it,” she said.

The family started to go to Mass. When Jack was preparing to go to the 2011 Madrid World Youth Day they wanted him to be able to participate fully, so both he and Samantha were prepared and Confirmed in the Catholic Church.

“It was just one thing led to another and it felt right, and it felt good, and it was the right thing to do.”

When they were old enough, Louis and Hannah, now 19 and 16, also received the sacraments.

James became a Catholic in 2019.

“It was wonderful,” Samantha said.

Now united in their faith, James and Samantha have long been unified in another passion: fostering children.

“We thought we were both pretty blessed in life and it was a way of giving back.”

They have now been fostering for more than 20 years. The children they look after are on short term placements while a longer term placement is arranged, or on respite care. They’ve had lots of little ones come and go.

“People would say to you: I could never do that, because it would be too hard to say goodbye.

“That’s the whole idea: you love them so that it does hurt. …You have to love them, you can’t hold back. And then inevitably it hurts when you say goodbye. It’s the sacrifice I guess. You sacrifice yourself for another person, so that they feel loved.”

At the moment, fostering has been put on hold to allow the family some time together.

After what Samantha describes as ‘brutal treatment’, James was given the all-clear for throat cancer on March 19, 2020– the feast of St Joseph.

She says that having other women support her – including her own mother – has been an important part of her mothering, and she is part of a women’s Endow group at the Huon Valley Parish.

Samantha says that as a young mum she learnt from observing other, more experienced mothers, but that it is also important for women to be true to themselves in motherhood, and not try to impress others.

“You only have to impress God, no-one else,” Samantha said.

She describes motherhood as a ‘paradigm shift’.

“It’s all about you until you have a baby and then suddenly the universe has changed the moment they’re born … And when Jack was born, it was: Oh, this is what I was born for, this is what I was meant to do.”