Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Every now and then we hear stories that are very complicated or their outcome is highly unlikely and we call them “miracles.” In the Catholic Church we call miracles those divine interventions that cannot be explained by science. Usually we read about them in books, shrines, or even in the life of the saints. Recently there was a story that if it is not a miracle, it is very close to it.
About three years ago, there was a missionary family that came from the Midwest to our parish and school to care for a high-level risk pregnancy. Emanuele and Priscilla Bruno had recently lost a week-old baby that was born with a highly rare genetic disorder, when her new pregnancy was diagnosed with the same syndrome. There were only eight cases reported in the whole world of children born with that disorder, but there was only one other case in which two siblings had it. Considering their situation, they prayed to the Lord for help and doors were opened for them to travel with their six other children to Massachusetts. They were able to find hospitality in a house in Fitchburg and their children joined IC school. Towards the end of the pregnancy, when all the doctors from various hospitals were assured that the baby would not survive after birth, there was an immense pressure on the couple to “end their pregnancy.” Abortion seemed to be the most “humane” course of action to be taken for their child. Because the baby’s genetic disorder affected his bones and muscles, the lungs were never developed, and his heart was very weak. Realizing that little Francesco was a gift of God given to his parents, they entrusted Him to care for their little baby. Since the due date was close to the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, his mother Priscilla was praying constantly to the Blessed Mother to intervene. After much resistance from the medical staff, which at times were disrespectful and inconsiderate to the desire of the parents, they finally made the preparations for the delivery.
Usually the preparations for the delivery would include babysitting for their children, the hospital bag, change of clothes, and getting the car ready, Francesco’s preparations were quite different. They had their relatives flown from various parts of the US, the children were all praying the rosary at the hospital, some priest friends of theirs joined in prayer, and one priest was ready at the operating room to baptize the baby as soon as he was born. After some rehearsal time between the doctor, nurses, and the priest as to how everything was going to happen, the critical moment of delivery arrived. The baby was born, was baptized, and instead of dying, miraculously, he cried and was brought to the NICU unit where a whole medical staff were ready for various interventions. By the time we got there, the baby was quietly resting and the staff were all amazed at how the baby had survived. Due to the severity of the complications, the future of Francesco was very certain, he was going to die very soon. Once again the doctors were pushing for the couple to let their child die, rather than living a few more days and suffering to the end. Once again, the parents had to explain to the team of highly specialized doctors that God was the master of life and He was going to determine the length of the life of that child. At the same time as that dialogue was happening, the nurses were all drawn to see that little miracle who was so fragile and so strong at the same time to withstand all that he was going through. At every time where all the doors were closing for his treatment, one last door was opened. He was transferred from hospital to hospital due to Covid, surgical interventions, chest expansions procedures, he flew almost ten times to different hospitals and always with a smile on his face. After surviving one day at a time, two months short of his third birthday, Francesco was able for the first time to go home. After living all this time in different hospitals, this week he was dismissed.
In this respect life month, as we pray for all lives, it is important to remember that all lives belong to God. As He created us, He is the one that calls us. Some are called earlier to the presence of the Father, as Francesco’s brother, and others will be called later. What is fundamental is to trust in God. Although we don’t understand, He always has a greater plan than ours. Emanuele and Priscilla were already spreading God’s word in the Midwest, but the Lord called them to evangelize to the doctors and nurses through the sickness of their child. Lastly, the greatest miracle is not the life of Francesco, but rather that people seeing the glory of God convert and return to him!
Father Steven Clemence