Padre Pio wrote, "We must always have courage, and if some spiritual languor comes upon us, let us run to the feet of Jesus in The Most Blessed Sacrament, and let us place ourselves in the midst of the heavenly perfumes, and we will undoubtedly regain our strength. Kneel down and render the tribute of your presence and devotion to Jesus in The Most Blessed Sacrament. Confide all your needs to Him - along with the needs of others. Speak to Jesus with filial abandonment, give free rein to your heart, and give Him complete freedom to work in you as He thinks best.”
Dearest Prayer Warriors,
On March 28, Jennie, Ryan, & I traveled to Cleveland to the home of Brian & Peggy Golden, parents of Katie's friend Megan, a former ND student manager friend & a SMC Belle. Peggy invited us to come to participate in a yearly event correlating with the daily apparitions of The Blessed Mother shared with Ivan Dragicevic, a visionary and chosen instrument of ministry for God through The Blessed Mother. Ivan is one of the visionaries of the Apparitions and Miracles of Medjugorje.
Our reason for going to participate was two-fold. Firstly, we wanted to be in the presence of Our Lady, who is a special intercessor for our immediate and extended family. Secondly, we wanted to request from Our Lady her special advocacy for a healing miracle of biblical proportions for Katie Beth. We went with expectation. We went with cleared consciences and pure hearts. We went because God ordered our steps to be there, and so we accepted His invitation shared with us through Peggy.
Our experience was beyond words. We knew from the moment we left South Bend that God was with us. From the impromptu conversations and prayers with our friends at Little Flower Church, the gift of The Mass, Adoration and Confession before leaving The Bend coupled with multiple Notre Dame fans along the way to the rainbows in the sky to pennies on the ground - God provided constant reminders of His guidance and presence in our journey to share in the apparition of His Mother Mary. God is good all the time, and this day was no exception!
We arrived at the Golden home to many cars and people. The energy was electric. All of us were called to be present in this one moment, together. All invited were on a special (meaning specific) invitation list put together from prayer and discernment. We all came seeking from Our Lady an outpouring of love and intercession. We all carried crosses. Everyone present gave witness to journeys of hope, surrender, trust, prayer, and expectancy. The synergy and spiritual experience was beyond words. Being surrounded by deep believers, who had made the pilgrimage from all over the country with a love of God and focus of faith, was awesome - which is in truth an inadequate description, an understatement.
Jennie and I carried Katie's cross as well as our crosses and prayers (especially for little Katie). We also carried and presented your prayers and special intentions to our Blessed Mother. We were humbled to be chosen; humbled to be representatives of the Schwab family and of Katie's Prayer Warriors. We were excited and overjoyed to be in the presence of Heavenly greatness. We were ready and willing to embrace the magnitude of this immeasurable opportunity. Thank you for helping us by your prayers to accept the role we played on your behalf.
What makes this experience even more special for us is that the Golden family has very recently experienced first-hand the need for a healing miracle with their niece Sophia. They have shared her story with us as a message of hope and given us permission to share with you.
In short, in the fall (2014), Sophia, a typically healthy fifth grader, fell extremely ill. By the time she arrived at the hospital, she was diagnosed with myocarditis - a virus that attacks the heart muscle. The doctors had to put Sophia on an ECMO machine due to the abnormal rhythm and weakness of her heart. This basically oxygenated her blood for her and allowed her heart to rest while they further determined treatment plans. She was fully sedated. She was in the ICU. The doctors gave her two weeks on the machines and told her family she would need a heart transplant in that time frame or there was nothing they could do for her. Her family, being God fearing, faith filled people unreservedly turned to God.
Immediately, they worked hard to rally Prayer Warriors and held an Adoration / Fasting day on Sophia's behalf. The family called on two of our favorite intercessors: St. Padre Pio and Our Lady, to intercede on behalf of Sophia. The time period was the day before St. Pio's feast day. The family blessed her with oils and prayed expectantly. What happened was nothing short of a miracle not just for Sophia. but for the many who participated in the gift of prayer and sacrifice.
The doctors of the ICU came into Sophia's room the morning of Padre Pio's feast day with the newest X-ray results of her heart. The X-ray revealed Sophia's heart had been healed 100%. The doctors were astonished and declared they wouldn't have believed it if they hadn't seen it with their own eyes. Truly, a miracle happened - all praise and thanksgiving to God! Sophia's family's prayers had been answered. Since that time in the ICU, Sophia's recovery has been phenomenal.
Praise God! What a story! What a testimony of the power of prayer and unselfish love! We get chills every time we read this story or share it.
While we didn't get a chance to talk to this miracle child, we were curious if she was present at the Golden home while we were there. Our encounter with her ended up being from a distance - which we believe is bigger than actually meeting her. You see, what happened is the whole time at the home, Jen and I were drawn to one person, a little girl. This girl greeted us upon our arrival, and we couldn't help but be drawn to her throughout our time at the event. She reminded us of a younger version of Katie, but more importantly she had a glow of complete Joy and Love that was captivating and infectious.
It wasn't until toward the end of the day when we heard someone ask, "Where is Soph?" that we realized this girl was the girl of the miracle healing story. Turns out this child, one of many there that day, the one who had captured our immediate and direct attention, was in fact Sophia. We know God wanted us to see her and His great miracle work; this was a reminder to us, through Him, all things are possible!
After fellowship, it was time to go to the gathering area. Prayer petitions where gathered and directions were given. In a space of 100 chairs, we snagged seats by a wall with a picture hole cut out - aperfect seat to focus on the area of where Mary was to appear and a seat which allowed us to see the window from which was the only light coming into the space.
The directions were simple: We will pray The Rosary twice (as preparation). When Ivan gets up, we will stop and privately (silently) begin prayer requests to Our Lady, for when he moves over to this spot (a flowered area), Mary has arrived. He will pray with her. He will also share with The Blessed Mother the collection of prayers from the request basket. (Side note: emailed Prayer Warrior requests and intentions were printed and placed in this basket presented to The Virgin Mary). When Ivan's interaction with The Blessed Mother has ended, we will continue The Rosary.
As The Rosary began, the powerful words resonated the room. Personally, our family prays The Rosary often, but it is on occasions like this when we hear the loud unison prayer chanted that we are reminded of how truly blessed we are to be a part of the Catholic community of believers! Amen for gifts of community of believers and prayers like The Rosary!
The following is an account of what happened specifically for me (Sarah). As I prayed, it is important to know that I focused my thoughts and heart on Katie, not as she is now, but as we all know her and want her restored to be again - vibrant, beautiful, youthful, and active! With each prayer bead, I asked for specific requests, for I have been told and spiritually directed that The Lord wants to know specifics. As I prayed, I kept my eyes closed for most of the time. It was during the second rosary that my eyes opened and became fixated on the window outside. There was a shimmer of golden light that appeared from the window to the prayer table with flowers. In that moment, I remember thinking, Mary has arrived! Then, Ivan walked over to the table and silence filled the room. Ivan began praying and conversing with Mary in his native tongue.
We were instructed at the beginning to pray to Mary, just like we would our own mothers on Earth. So, when Ivan began, I started calling out to Mary, repeating the following, "Hello Mother. Thank-you for coming today. I knew you would. Thank-you for continuing to intercede for us. O Mother Mary, you are mother for all children, please continue to take our intentions for a biblical proportion miracle of our sister Katie to your son Jesus, our Savior, and ask Him to pour His Precious Blood over her and her care team. For when He takes it to our Father as such, it is no longer just our intention but His, and the Father will see and not refuse. She is a child of yours, Mary. A pure and genuine heart, she brings light to us on Earth, and we miss her dearly. Please Mother, while we are unworthy sinners, please help us as only you can. I need Katie. Our family needs Katie. Her friends need Katie. The world needs Katie. Please Mary, if it be the Divine Will of God, bring her back to us now. You know our hearts and our intentions; please, Mary continue to intercede for us. Allow us a second chance to do better. Break the chains and bondage of our hearts and Katie's. Whatever is keeping Katie from healing, may it go to the foot of your Son's Cross. May Katie be an Easter miracle; may she be healed now. In the meantime, protect her from any evil and remind her she is not alone. We vow all our days on Earth to make your name known, with that of the many saints who intercede for us, while building the Kingdom of God. Sweet mother, despise not our petition but in your mercy hear and answer us. Mary, I beseech you. Mother, please. I beg you, help bring Katie back. In Jesus' name."
With that, tears began to softly roll down my face, and a peace that surpasses all understanding came over me. As I wiped my face, my heart knew, our Mother had heard me. It was as if she said, "My child, Sarah, I hear you. Surrender all to me, and I will take it from here. Continue your works. Katie will be healed." With that, I took a deep breath. The feeling was powerful; beyond words. The apparition continued for just a few more moments with Ivan praying. And I, with tears rolling, gave thanks.
After the final Rosary was completed, Ivan addressed the crowd. He revealed the message of Mary. A quick summary of Ivan's words to us includes, but is not limited to:
Peace in your hearts and in your families.
Spiritual healing before physical.
Family family family.
Kneel before The Cross.
God is first.
God is real.
Reconciliation and confession - share in God's forgiveness.
Adoration - offer praise to God.
Jen and I were some of the last to walk up from the gathering space, but we both walked out with a peace and understanding that we didn't bring. The experience was surreal!
At the top of the steps stood Peggy, we hugged her, thanked her and said in one phrase, "There was a peace that came over us beyond words; we are humbled to have been invited." She looked at us and said, "That is exactly what someone else just said, too." We praised God, and with that, we were on our way.
As we left, we received a bottle of Holy Water and a candle with the following messages from Mary:
April 25, 2006: "Dear children! Also today I call you to have more trust in me and my Son. He has conquered by His death and resurrection and, through me, calls you to be a part of His joy. You do not see God, little children, but if you pray you will feel His nearness. I am with you and intercede before God for each of you. Thank you for having responded to my call."
May 25, 2007: "Dear children! Pray with me to the Holy Spirit for Him to lead you in the search of God's Will on the way of your holiness. And you, who are far from prayer, convert and, in the silence of your heart, seek salvation for your soul and nurture it with prayer. I bless you all individually with my motherly blessing. Thank you for having responded to my call."
We thank Peggy Golden for inviting us to be present during The Blessed Mother's apparition. We are grateful for her family's hospitality, generosity, kindness, and most importantly their prayers and support for Katie. We continue to thank each of you for answering the call to share in Katie's journey of full recovery and restoration of her brain, mind, body, life and spirt. We cannot thank-you enough for helping Team🍀Katie with your daily devotion of prayer for her complete healing and restoration. God has truly surrounded us with the right people at the right time. He has ordered our steps and directed our hearts. We couldn't ask for a better team!
As we drove away, Jen and I took notes so that we could share the best we could with you, Katie's faithful Prayer Warriors, the beautiful experience of Our Lady. Please know, your prayers matter; you matter. We are all in this together!
As we embark on our ten months anniversary together, stay focused, be specific in your requests, and know, without a doubt, that God IS at work.
Katie has had a great week and a half! She is showing more signs of interactions with her environment, natural responses, and sound. Amen!
Additionally, we continue to read her your messages, texts, cards, emails and words of inspiration. We remind her she is not alone and that we expect her to keep fighting and praying / asking God to bring her back 100% to us.
We pray this update finds each of you well. Happy Easter! May The Risen Lord bless you for your unconditional love and good work on behalf of Katie.
In the meantime, please know, we have had the stirring to plan for Katie's needs and intentions a special prayer / fast day which would include Adoration of The Most Blessed Sacrament. Please pray specifically for us that as we plan we follow what God wants of us.
Please continue to pray The Divine Mercy Chaplet Novena. Plan to attend a service for Divine Mercy Sunday; consider doing so for Katie's miracle. May we all be converted and brought closer to Jesus. Amen!
God bless you all in your good and faithful works. Remember, ducks fly together.