'A Huge Hug from Heaven'

Printed across the envelope was the message, “Pray the Rosary every day.”

By Marian Friedrichs

Michelle Simmons has always known that God, Our Lady, and the Communion of Saints watch over her and her loved ones, but the discovery of the envelope was “an incredible gift” that reminded her, in a way she can see and touch every day, that she is never alone. 

The story begins in 1993, when Michelle’s mother, Lyla Marquis, died on Thanksgiving. Then last year, on the same time, Michelle's two foster sisters each lost a biological sibling. 

“Some years are better than others,” she says, “but last year it hit me really hard.”

Pray the Rosary
During those dark days, Michelle was going through the contents of an old hutch and found an aged brown envelope, which she did not remember seeing before. “I just opened it up, and out came all these birth certificates [and] my parents’ wedding certificate.”

The discovery surprised Michelle, but her surprise and interest deepened when she took a closer look at the envelope itself. It had been addressed to Michelle’s mother under her maiden name — Azilda Lyla Leduc — in Hartford, Connecticut, where she had lived before her marriage to Roger Marquis in 1947. Printed across the envelope was the message, “Pray the Rosary every day.”

The return address was from the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.

Before that moment, Michelle had had no idea that her mother had any connection with the Marians. Michelle herself had first learned of the Order when she was introduced to the Divine Mercy message as a parishioner at St. Margaret Mary in Cedar Park, Texas, in 2015. While there, Michelle joined a Divine Mercy Cenacle. Michelle and her husband, Edward, now live in North Carolina, but she is still involved with the Cenacle by email.

A special gift
While she has no recollection of her mother (at right, on Michelle's wedding day) ever mentioning the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, Michelle does remember Lyla giving many Mass cards to friends and family. Michelle suspects that the large brown envelope must have originally contained a delivery of Mass cards before it was repurposed to store family documents.

Nearly three decades after Lyla’s death, when that old envelope resurfaced, Michelle “felt like Mom reached down from Heaven and gave me a huge hug.” That spiritual hug came when the whole family needed it most — in the midst of a “depressing week” — and it was received by the daughter to whom it would mean the most.

Though Roger and Lyla Marquis were both devout Catholics who led their children in praying the Rosary every night, Michelle is the only member of her family who still practices the Faith. After finding the envelope, she told her siblings — one biological brother and one biological sister, as well as the two foster sisters — only that their mother had sent her “a special gift this year.” 

Jesus’ promise 
Michelle continues her parents’ legacy of praying a daily Rosary, as the old envelope exhorts, but she adds to it a daily Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Michelle prays for all her loved ones, but especially for her oldest brother, Roger, who died six years ago, estranged from the Church. She believes firmly in Jesus’ promise to St. Faustina: that He will grant “the grace of conversion” to any sinner for whom a faithful soul will pray, “O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You” (Diary, 186, 187).

Michelle offers this prayer every day for her entire family and trusts in Jesus to keep His word. The discovery of the envelope was “an incredible gift” from “Mom or God or both” that reminded her, in a way she can see and touch every day, that she is never alone.

Her mother knew she needed that. A good mother always does. 


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