When We Turned to the Chaplet

(The following letter was addressed to Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, who holds the title as "Fr. Joseph, MIC," the director of the Association of Marian Helpers in Stockbridge, Mass. It is being reprinted here with the writer's permission.)

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Dear Father Seraphim:

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for your ministry and share with you an incredible experience my family and I witnessed as a result of praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy.

In April of 2007, a friend of my father's introduced him to the chaplet of Divine Mercy. My father was unfamiliar with it and the promises our Lord makes to those who pray it. He asked me if I ever heard of it. I told him that I, too, was introduced to it by a friend a year ago and had been praying it daily ever since. I gave him one of your pamphlets and asked him to pray it for a 43-year-old friend of mine who was in critical condition from a brain aneurysm. He assured me he would. She had a miraculous and complete recovery. She was discharged from the hospital eight weeks later and returned to work as an accountant. Unbeknownst to my father at the time, he would soon be in need of the chaplet for himself.

My father, Maurice J. Roussell, was 72 years old, ran his own business, and played golf a few days a week. Other than rheumatoid arthritis, he had no major medical problems or prior hospitalizations. In May 2007, he was playing golf and became so short of breath that he was unable to continue his game. The following day, he was hospitalized in intensive care with pneumonia. He was placed on a ventilator and remained on it, sedated, for one week. We contacted the hospital chaplain, Fr. Flood, to anoint him. My mother and I prayed the chaplet for him everyday. We placed the Divine Mercy image and a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe at his bedside. His condition slowly improved and he was weaned off the ventilator. When he was able to speak, he joyfully confided in me that Fr. Flood had been in earlier that morning to hear his confession and give him Holy Communion. He asked if he could have one of my wooden rosary rings, and I gave him the one I carried in my purse. He said he wanted to wear it on his finger to pray the chaplet. He never took it off after that.

The next day, he underwent cardiac testing, which revealed that he also had multiple coronary vessel disease and heart failure. His heart was irreversibly damaged by a virus, and only functioning at one-third capacity. Despite the grim report from the cardiologists, he completed rehabilitation and was discharged two weeks later. He was able to walk very short distances without oxygen support. While in rehab, he became an apostle for the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, handing out your pamphlets and rosary rings to patients and staff.

He was only home from rehab for five days when he became short of breath again. He was readmitted to the hospital and diagnosed with a heart attack. He had great difficulty breathing and was placed back in ICU on the ventilator. While hospitalized, he contacted a staph infection, which was resistant to antibiotics. His temperature peaked at 104.6, and he was put on a cooling blanket for several hours at 42 degrees. His friend suggested that we pray the chaplet at his bedside. As soon as we finished praying, his temperature dropped to normal, 98.6! We notified his nurse, and she was quite surprised since she had just informed us that it would take a few days for his temperature to decrease. His temperature remained normal through the night, and it never exceeded 101 thereafter.

Having witnessed the tremendous power of the chaplet, my mother and I invited family and friends to join us everyday at 3:00pm at my father's bedside to pray the chaplet and the rosary. Many of those who responded to our invitation were unfamiliar with the chaplet so I ordered more of your pamphlets to hand out. The pamphlets provided a concise overview of Jesus' promises, and the prayer cards allowed those who were unfamiliar to join in the prayer. Although my father was sedated and unable to speak while on the ventilator, he apparently was aware that we were praying for him because he moved his arms and legs during the prayer.

A few days later, one of my father's lungs collapsed, and he was in severe pain. Fortunately, morphine helped to relieve the pain. Soon after, his doctors recommended that he undergo a tracheotomy. We were concerned about the effect of surgery on his heart but were advised by his physicians that surgery would facilitate the ventilator weaning process. After careful consideration and prayer, my father underwent the surgery. His surgeon reported that he tolerated the surgery without any problems, and we were all hopeful that he would recover. However, two days later, July 4, 2007, I arrived at the hospital at 12 p.m. and was informed by his physician that he would not make it through the day. He had gone into multi-system organ failure and was in a coma. Father Flood arrived immediately, anointed him, and led us in prayer and song. With difficulty, we managed to sing "Amazing Grace."

It was devastating to observe my father's body slowly shut down. His hands and feet became cyanotic, and the rest of his body was jaundiced. He went through his own "passion" and we were at the foot of his cross. Despite being unresponsive, his nurse suggested that we continue talking to him. She said that he might still be able to understand us. We told him Jesus and Mary would soon be taking his hand and bringing him to a special dwelling place prepared for him. Surrounded by the love of family and friends, he was taken home by God at exactly 3 p.m. Not a minute after! God confirmed he heard our prayers and took him home at the Hour of Mercy. We were able to rejoice in our sorrow because God had given us this magnificent sign! We also thought it was ironic that he died on July 4. He was freed from suffering and death, and now has true freedom in Christ. Thank you, Jesus, all praise and thanksgiving be every moment Thine!

I am grateful for the suffering my father endured. I know that not only was he sanctified by it, but others were as well. Many people were introduced to the chaplet, and many became reacquainted with the Rosary. One friend told my father that he hadn't prayed the Rosary since grammar school. That friend purchased rosary beads so that he could join us in prayer at my father's bedside at 3 p.m. His devotion to the Rosary was rekindled as a result of my father's suffering.

My father's work as an apostle for Divine Mercy continued after his death. Hundreds of people who attended his wake received Divine Mercy prayercards. Those who attended his funeral heard Fr. Brian Woodrow speak inspiringly about Divine Mercy. He read from the gospel of Luke regarding our Lord's crucifixion at 3 p.m. and His last words, "Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit." His homily connected the gospel reading to my father's 3 p.m. death and Divine Mercy. He concluded his homily with those powerful words, "Jesus, I trust In You."

How great is our God! I am eternally grateful for your ministry's efforts in promoting the chaplet. We have been abundantly blessed, and I can't help but continue to spread the message of Divine Mercy. I've already shared our experience with my physical therapy patients, colleagues, CCD students, Rosary group, bible study group, parish, and Catholic bookstore owners. It is my hope and prayer that sharing our experience with others will inspire devotion to Divine Mercy.

In the heart of Jesus and Mary,

Pamela M. Roussell

Pamela M. Roussell, a physical therapist, lives in Red Bank, N.J.

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