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MAILBAG: RECALLING HOW ‘MYSTERIOUS STRANGER’ RESCUED A PRIEST AT AIRPORT SECURITY
Do you like angels — and healing — accounts as much as we do?
From the mail we hear from an old friend,Mary Ann, who works in a healing ministry.
“We were at Lambert St. Louis Airport flying back to Boston after a very fruitful weekend giving a healing retreat at Our Sorrowful Mother’s Ministry in Vandalia, Illinois, August of 2011,” she recently recalled. “There were four of us, Father Joe Whalen, Father John Welch, Philip Rego, and myself.
“Philip and Father Joe were ahead of us and went through the security checkpoint. Father Welch and I got to the first security guard (a woman) who asked for our identification. I presented mine and turned back and noticed Father Welch’s face drain of all color when he opened his wallet and there was no driver’s license; it was not to be found anywhere in the wallet.
“As he was fumbling through his pockets, I was combing through his carry-on luggage on the floor. He had kind of a frozen in shock look and I was trying to figure out what to do next. I was thinking, I’d let Philip and Father Joe go back to Boston and I would stay in St. Louis with Father Welch until we could get some identification sent to us from the priest’s rectory in Connecticut.
“At that moment I heard the most soothing, calm, strong and reassuring voice! I was kneeling on the floor going through the suitcase and turned around, when I heard this voice say, ‘Father, father please it is alright. Don’t worry, look in your wallet again.’
“I was surprised to hear him addressed as ‘father’ at the airport, as most times these days priests are called ‘sir’ or something secular.
“I turned, and saw a tall, handsome man in his thirties, with a starched white shirt, dark blue pants, lots of what looked like medals or pins, very, very clean-cut and dressed immaculately. Father John just looked at him and he said, ‘Please father, look in your wallet again,’ so Father John opened his wallet again, and there was the license!
“He stared in disbelief! I turned back to the suitcase to zip it up and then heard, ‘Oh, Father, don’t forget your rosary that you placed in this bin.’ I turned and looked up but he had disappeared, and Father John said the same thing; he turned to get his rosary and this man had just disappeared.
“He was not dressed like the other guards, he seemed to materialize right in front of us and then disappeared. But we both say in retrospect, that we could not get over his voice. How soothing and reassuring it was! It was like none we had ever heard. After that we boarded the plane and had a nice flight back to Boston. We always pray to holy Archangel Raphael to accompany us when we travel, as he is not only the patron of healing but traveling too. We also put his prayer cards in our luggage so it does not get lost. Father Welch and I both have the ‘knowing’ now that this was an angel sent to help us, and we feel it could very well have been Raphael our patron. I always say you are protected in proportion to your mission, wow! What protection priests have!”
God Bless! Mary Ann
[Added note: "In summer of 2008 Fr. Joseph Whalen, M.S. was invited to give a healing retreat in Vandalia. Father Whalen, myself and two other core team members of our ministry flew out of Boston and to St. Louis and then drove about seventy miles to Vandalia. We arrived about 8:00 p.m. and I remember it was almost dark. We were very tired, weary travelers at this point. (Father Whalen was 85, and had more energy than all of us put together!) We drove over to the OSMM ministry house to see Debbie and Vanessa and I decided to set up our table with our materials for the following day. While we was doing this, I heard Debbie talking on her phone and she was clearly upset and distressed. She was talking to John Frailey, a core team member of their ministry and he was heartbroken; he told Debbie that his wife had just miscarried. John was asking if Fr. Whalen would come to their home and pray over his wife. Father Whalen didn't have to think about it, he jumped in the car and we were off! We followed Debbie and Vanessa about twenty-five miles to a very remote, dark country area. John and his wife Ann are wonderful Catholics; they lived in a rustic house, had an amazing garden, and home-schooled their seven children. When we arrived, John, Ann, and the seven children were very somber and in great despair. Poor Ann was inconsolable. This was not her first miscarriage. Father Whalen spoke with John and the children and then prayed over Ann. She was very tearful, I can remember the last thing I said to her was not to give up hope. We left and went back to Vandalia and finished up the weekend retreat. Not long after we returned home we learned that Ann had gone to her doctor that week and the doctor detected a fetal heart beat!
"Well you can imagine, Ann and everyone else was in complete shock! Ann went on to carry the baby to full term and she was born healthy. She was named Elizabeth, but she is fondly known as the 'miracle baby'! None of us will ever forget that dark, dreary night of sorrow. But with God all things are truly possible, as Fr. Whalen says so often, 'God always turns something bad into something good.' He never takes any credit, and always stresses he is only a humble instrument of God, that only Jesus Christ is the Divine Physician and Healer.
"When we returned to Vandalia in 2011, Fr. Whalen and I had the great privilege to meet this little 'miracle baby' [above, left]; no words can describe that moment!”
On September 13th 2012, Fr. Joseph Whalen M.S.and Fr. John E. Welch, M.S. had their monthly prayer meeting in Massachussets. Before we started Joseph B. and his wife Carol asked Fr. Whalen to bless a statue of Our Lady of LaSalette. We later learned that Joseph and Carol had met at the LaSalette shrine and married years ago. They both had a devotion to Our Lady under that title and wanted Fr. Whalen, a LaSalette missionary priest, to bless the statue. After he blessed the statue we started our prayer meeting with an inspirational talk by Fr. Welch. Because Our Lady of LaSalette’s feast day was September 19th, Fr. Welch spoke about the LaSalette apparition and reconciliation. The charism of the LaSalette missionaries is Reconciliation, showing God’s compassion and mercy to the repentant. Both priests are noted for the gift of hearing confessions hour upon hour. Fr. Welch says “God wants to heal us from the inside out” and Fr. Whalen says “the greatest healing one can receive on this earth is reconciliation with Almighty God broken through sin.” We proceeded with the rosary and then the healing service and confessions.
The Virgin having told us the reasons to reconcile with God, all our sins, especially sins against the Second and Third Commandments. She asked that this message of conversion and reconciliation be made known to all people and that we turn from sin and back to Almighty God. The apparition in La Salette, September 19, 1846 was approved: November 16, 1851.