Interior of the sanctuary of Wellesley Village church showing pews, organ pipes, and clear glass windows.


Ernie and Candace Sutcliffe in church pew

Hope When There was No Hope

A story of love and faith

It was an indescribable feeling. Candace Sutcliffe, Village Church member

The story of Candace and Ernie Sutcliffe’s faith journey is simple and yet improbable. It starts with their simple meeting as 14-year-olds in a church youth group in Rhode Island. Like many teenagers at a tender and formative age, Candace and Ernie found stability and connection through their church. They were married in that church at the age of 19.

Following college and graduate school, Ernie became an ophthalmologist, and Candace became a lawyer. When the Sutcliffes had children, they knew that faith would be an important backbone for their family. They were drawn  to Village Church for the children and youth programs. They threw themselves into what they cared about. Candace was a member of multiple committees through the years. Together with Judy Mongiardo, Candace was instrumental in establishing Family Promise Metrowest, a church-based program for families without homes who need temporary shelter and transition services. Ernie helped the church with its technology needs.

And then they got the news. Ernie was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. It was so rare, even the physicians in the renowned Boston medical centers could not treat it. They were thrown a lifeline when a surgical/medical team in Washington, D.C. said they could perform an aggressive 14-hour operation to remove the cancer, followed by a year of intensive treatment. Candace and Ernie did not know if the operation could save Ernie’s life, but they grasped what hope they could.

During the operation, Candace, their two children, and a couple of close friends waited for updates in the Washington, D.C. hospital where the surgical team worked. At the same time, their Village Church friends gathered in the chapel to pray, taking shifts to cover the entire 14 hours. When Candace got word from the surgeons, she telephoned the prayer group in Wellesley to inform them of the progress. Hour after hour, they waited, full of the kind of hope that is borne by faith and love.

And so it went. Candace and Ernie tell this story with solemn disbelief. To know that they were carried by a raft of prayer, even as they faced the biggest test of their faith, was “an indescribable feeling,” Candace said.

Ernie not only survived the operation and grueling treatment, but he fully regained his health and remains cancer free. Candace and Ernie remain profoundly grateful to Ernie’s physicians and Wellesley Village Church, whose steadfast belief in an improbable outcome saved Ernie’s life.