By Deacon Paul Morin
WHEN I WAS in grammar school, I felt a calling. I spoke to my parents and the nuns at school and my pastor. I felt that I needed to be with God.
That did not materialize at the that time. I went onto Catholic high school, Power Memorial in Manhattan. And yes, for all of you basketball fans, that was when Lew Alcindor was there. After high school, I went to work. On Sept. 2, 1967, I met Julie and it was love at first sight. We dated and got married Oct. 5, 1968. This year, we will be married 50 years.
In 1998, Julie was diagnosed with cancer. She had tumors, cysts and fibroids. The doctor called and told me I needed to have her come for surgery right away; the test showed advanced cancer. I prayed to God: “In your mercy; save my wife.”
Julie had to have a major hysterectomy. After the surgery, the doctor informed us that she had to do even more extensive surgery as there was a lot of cleaning up to do because of the fibroids and lesions. A few days later, the doctor gave us the postsurgical results.
Before I tell you the results, here is the rest of the story: Julie has a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She always has with her a Sacred Heart icon. We even have a large Sacred Heart statue in our home that we received as a bridal shower gift. After 30 years, it had some chips and one of the hands broke. We brought it to a statue repair place about a week before Julie’s surgery.
Going into surgery, Julie insisted on having the icon with her. If you have ever had surgery, you know you can’t bring anything in with you. Her anesthesiologist was a Born-Again Christian and being moved by her faith, placed the Sacred Heart picture under her surgical gown.
When Julie’s surgeon, also a Christian, heard about the Sacred Heart icon, she was also taken aback. She had a dream the night before the surgery in which she saw two large doors open and the Sacred Heart standing there. The next day, she woke up remembering the dream. Upon entering the operating room, the surgeon noticed that the operating doors opened just as in her dream.
The Sacred Heart was already in the room with Julie. And to cap it off, the anesthesiologist sang gospel songs to Julie as she went under. The results of the tests after surgery showed no trace of cancer. We both believe that this was miraculous.
Two days after the surgery, I got a call from the statue repair person. The Sacred Heart was ready to be returned. He said he finished on the day of the operation.
The next week we went to our church, St. Dominic’s in Bensonhurst, and met our new pastor: then-Father Frank Caggiano. I saw a vision of God come over me as he held my hand and introduced himself as the dean of the diaconate. At that moment, a feeling came over me.
I told Julie what happened and that I wanted to become a deacon. She did not know what to say. She paused and remembered how I told her that as a young boy I had a calling.
What if I had joined the priesthood? We would not have met, and we would not have had this wonderful life with children and grandchildren. She thought that now it is her turn to give me back to the Church.
So here I am Lord, serving your flock with my loving wife still with me.
Deacon Morin is a permanent deacon serving at St. Mark’s Church in Sheepshead Bay.