Neither the dreariness of the day nor the rain, which alternated between a fine mist and serious clusters of heavy drops, kept us from driving to Stella Maris with Mary Ellen and Steve last Saturday.
For two weeks we’d anticipated the payoff. We’d have lots of time to do what we do best— talk— though, regardless of how much time we spend together, it’s never enough.
We arrived early enough to chat with Father Ralph before Mass, and right away he asked how Olivia was doing.
“Tell her the story,” Father prompted.
“Another miracle,” Kathleen concurred in a soft, almost whispery voice.
Then Father asked, “What? Did you want to see me, Kathleen?”
“Father Deane wants to invite you over for Mulligan stew after Mass.”
“Sure, sure,” said Father Ralph.
Just then a tall, robust man with white hair greeted Father.
“Oh!!! I’m being invaded by the Irishmen! I’d better get my kalelis,” Father Ralph laughed.
Conversations here and there
I turned to Mary Ellen as Father Ralph continued to greet the newcomers.
“I was talking about Olivia and—“
“Praise God!” Father Ralph interjected.
“Yes, praise God!” I agreed.
“Always,” Mary Ellen chimed in.
The man with the lovely Irish brogue stopped to greet us on his way to the chapel.
“Hello there. How are you?” he asked, extending his right hand.
“Hello! How are you?” I smiled, reaching out to shake hands.
“I’m Father O’Callaghan directly from the old sod.”
“The old sod,” Steve echoed.
“I thought you were coming from heaven,” Mary Ellen twinkled.
“[Mary Ellen’s] family came from the old sod also,” Steve added.
“It’s wonderful to meet you, Father!” I said excitedly, not yet making the connection between Father Deane, our former priest at St. Joseph’s, and Father O’Callaghan.
Angel in our midst
Father and his group headed to the chapel, and I turned to Mary Ellen again.
“After Mass, Father Ralph… will talk and show you the relic. He stays a little after. I know Kathleen is here, and she wants [Father to head over to the house for dinner; but he’ll do it].” Then I realized I hadn’t yet documented the moment. “I want to take a picture of you all.”
“Should I stand here and smile and all?” Mary Ellen asked.
“She wants to see natural, though,” Mary Ellen told Steve and Steven. “Don’t act silly now!”
I snapped a few photos.
“And I want to get the bell. I got you in the back, too,” I said to the sacristan.
“Good, good,” Mary Ellen said, “Like our little guardian angel back there.”
“Nowhere to go when I’m breaking the camera,” the sacristan quipped as he walked over to us.
“Hello. How are you?” I smiled.
Two weeks before, the sacristan had stood in our midst as I’d prayed for Olivia’s healing with the St. Peregrine relic; so I shared her remarkable news.
“It was awesome; so, of course, I’m going to tell the world. Earlier, Father Ralph told Kathleen and me about a woman from Cuero.”
“Yeah,” nodded the sacristan.
“And there was a miracle, too?” Mary Ellen finished my sentence.
“Then there was… a lady with a tumor in her shoulder,” I continued. “And she had been completely healed.”
“There’s been a lot of them,” the sacristan said. “An awful lot of them. Father’s trying to help me right now [with my] cancer.”
“Well, may you be healed!” Mary Ellen offered.
“Absolutely!” I agreed wholeheartedly.
“[Father Ralph’s] a healer,” continued the sacristan. “Anyone who comes here for that, he’s here for them. I just love him to death. We came here two years ago, and I became the sacristan…. I serve at all the Masses except Sunday when I work.”
“Of all days,” I said.
“But you’re able to be here all the others?” Mary Ellen asked.
The sacristan elaborated. “I train and schedule the altar servers so that they know what to do when I can’t be here.”
“That’s wonderful!” enthused Mary Ellen.
“Before I leave here today, I’ll set the altar up for tomorrow. And my wife… in the white [robe… is] a Eucharistic Minister, so we’ve both been serving for two years. We just love it.”
“Just enchanted to be here, huh?” added Mary Ellen rhetorically.
Then we all turned to acknowledge the folks whose path we were blocking on their way to the chapel.
“Hello! Excuse us,” they said.
“Hello! We’re the official welcoming committee,” I teased.
“We’re here to bless everybody.”
“Well, Sister Mary, you think you’re ready to go inside?” asked Steve.
“Oh, this is their first time,” I told the sacristan about Mary Ellen and Steve.
“Come again. We always need people.”
Before heading to the chapel, I introduced the four of us to the sacristan.
Then he did the same. “I’m Joe, and my wife’s Sharon. We’ll see you after church, probably.”
“Yes. It’s such a blessing to be here!”
“It’s a blessing to have you,” Joe replied.
After Mass I asked Mary Ellen, “Are you going to ask Father about the relic? I want to photograph that.”
Mary Ellen had wanted to have her chaplets blessed, too.
“I have both of them [in my purse].”
“Good to see you,” Father O’Callaghan said to Steven.
“Thank you for visiting, Father.”
During Mass, Father Ralph told us that Father O’Callaghan has known Father Deane since their seminary days in Ireland.
So that’s the connection between them! That’s why Father O’Callaghan attended Mass at Stella Maris. He’s visiting Father Deane here on Goose Island. That’s why Kathleen showed up to invite Father Ralph to dinner!
Interestingly, Father O’Callaghan served at Our Lady of Victory Church in Victoria; so I shared that we’d been to Our Lady of Victory Church in Prague.
“Prague, TX?” Steve asked.
“Czechoslovakia,” I said, quite surprised to hear there’s a Prague, Texas, too.
Prayers and blessings
Waiting for Father Ralph was a joy. We listened as folks spoke with him in littles.
“Thank you for joining us tonight,” Father said as folks departed.
“Oh, my goodness! How long has he been on crutches?” a woman asked as a man gingerly made his way out.
“Three weeks, and then it’ll be another week or two,” the man’s wife answered.
“On the seventeenth… I’ll get a boot,” the man added.
Then Father asked both the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Peregrine to intercede on the man’s behalf, but I only heard part of the prayer:
I ask for you to put your protective mantle around him. I ask you to open up the providence of the gifts and talents that you have right now…. Amen?
“Amen!” we all responded resoundingly.
“Come back again when you can,” Father said, bidding the man and his wife a good night.
“We’ll be praying for you!” Father Ralph told the man.
Finally, Mary Ellen had her chance.
“Okay. You have things to be blessed?”
Mary Ellen showed her two chaplets to Father Ralph.
“Oh, my goodness! What’s this a chaplet of?”
“One’s for St. Anthony; the other, for the Holy Infant.”
Father Ralph said that he’s belonged to the St. Anthony Guild for many, many years.
“Do you think I could see the relic?” Mary Ellen asked.
“You want to see the relic of St. Peregrine?” Father wanted to know.
Mary Ellen was quiet.
“I’m serious!” Father Ralph offered.
“Oh, she wants a full meal deal, John. What do you do with someone like that? Better be like McDonald’s. Give her the whole thing.”
“I’ve seen real miracles— a lot of them— with this saint. A lot. A lot of them, including two today. The one you talked about that other people were involved in,” Father said, referring to Olivia, “and one this morning. I was told about someone whose tumor on the shoulder totally disappeared before they could go through surgery. So okay. We’ll pray for you.”
“Pray for my sister,” Mary Ellen requested instead.
“I’ll let you kiss [the relic],” Father told Mary Ellen. “And you, too,” he said to me.
Mary Ellen repeated, “Please pray for my sister because she’s ill.”
Father touched the relic to Mary Ellen’s forehead as he prayed; and then he did the same with me.
“Amen! Amen! Thank you, thank you!” Mary Ellen and I said.
In the meantime, Father O’Callaghan had been observing. “I see four angels with halos. May I receive a blessing, too?” he asked.
“Yes!” Mary Ellen and I both said at once.
Then Father Ralph prayed over Father O’Callaghan.
Mary and St. Peregrine: Mother Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Prompt Succor, the mother of your vocation, the one that’s kept you, prospered you, and blessed you all these years. Mother, we ask you to go to Jesus so that he that began a good work in the Monsignor will bring it to a satisfactory conclusion in the right time. Keep him healthy, well, and wise. And we pray, in virtue of your Queenship, that you would dispatch Raphael, the archangel who’s the archangel of healing and deliverance and of travel that he would go with you as you do these trips. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Amen!” Father O’Callaghan agreed with childlike enthusiasm.
“And for all for whom you may be praying in holy sod, Ireland,” Father Ralph added.
On that note, Father O’Callaghan reminded Father Ralph about dinner.
“Oh! Yes. I’ll come by.”
We took that as our cue to depart; so Steve, Mary Ellen, Steven, and I effusively thanked all those remaining.
“I’ll say one thing for sure,” Steve noted as we walked to the vehicle. “With you, there’s never a dull moment.”
How very nice indeed!
Our Lady, Queen of Ireland… Holy Mary, if you will, hear your supplicant. I put myself under the shelter of your shield. When falling in the slippery path, you are my smooth, supporting hand staff. There is no hound in fleetness or in chase, north wind, or rapid river as quick as the Mother of Christ to the bed of death to those who are entitled to her kindly protection. Amen.
March 17, 2015
May the strength of God pilot us, may the wisdom of God instruct us, may the hand of God protect us, may the word of God direct us…. Always ours this day and evermore (St. Patrick).
August 28, 2015
“God is more anxious to bestow his blessings on us than we are to receive them”
Links of interest… Monsignor O’Callaghan: about / celebrating Mass… Relics: first-class / about (more – still more)… St. Patrick’s prayers… St. Peregrine: about / articles (prayer cards) / “cancer saint” / chaplet / feast / friends of / healing intercessor & friend / healing power / May 1st / novena / prayers (requests) / shrine… Stella Maris: anniversary / chapel (more) / marker / facebook / historic site / map…
WP posts… Christmas year ’round… Delightful visit… Father’s roses… Healing service… Holy relics… Memorable as ever… Powerful intercessor… Saintly connections… Stella Maris… Stella Maris moments… St. Anthony chaplets… St. Peregrine relic