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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Monday

The scenery of our lives

We’re celebrating Our Mother of Perpetual Help this month with a new slideshow on our homepage. We’ve asked visitors to share their stories of how Our Mother of Perpetual Help has impacted their lives. Here are a few stories that have been shared with us.

If you’d like to share your story, please email us at olph@redemptorists.net.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help has been a staple in my life since birth. I was born on a Wednesday (Mary’s Day) in the month of May, and was baptized and received all the sacraments through matrimony at OLPH in Brooklyn.

In the years that followed, I was able to name my daughter “Stephanie Marie.”  The beautiful OLPH icon hangs above my daughter’s bed — and through this most beautiful artistic depiction, Mary continues to manifest herself by helping simple people like me.

— Danny (New York, NY)

I retired from the U.S. Air Force after 32 years of service in June 1991. But my story and relationship with my Mother of Perpetual Help started way back in 1962. I was young, slim, and had lots of blonde hair when I served my first overseas assignment at RAF Upper Heyford England.

We had a wonderful chaplain there by the name of Father Henry Hasselberg, C.Ss.R. It was Father Henry that introduced me to OLPH via our Tuesday night novenas. It was while stationed in England that I had an opportunity to fly to Rome and there I visited the Church of St. Alphonsus and was smitten by the original icon of OLPH. I was helpless after that and OLPH has been in the forefront of my life since my days in England.

But that’s not the real story I want to share. It all began in May 1984 when I was stationed at Tyndall Air Force base in Panama City, FL. Back in those days I was a heavy smoker. You’ll see how I smartened up real quick. I began to lose my voice but had no symptoms of a sore throat. My speech became a soft whisper so I decided to visit the doctor.

Tyndall AFB didn’t have an ENT doctor so they sent me to a doctor in town. Well, this doctor who was severely lacking in any bedside-manner, wrapped my tongue in gauze and pulled it way out so he could see down my throat. Then he said: “Yup, it’s on the left vocal cord and when it’s on the left side it’s usually cancer. You better get yourself back to the base and tell them to get that tended to.”

Stunned, I sat in his waiting room to calm down for a few minutes. Then I stood up and threw what was left of my pack of cigarettes in his trash can and that was the last time I ever smoked. That was at 2:30 in the afternoon, May 25, 1984. Being a good troop, I followed orders and reported back to the base hospital.

In a few days I found myself at the Naval Hospital in Pensacola, FL, where they scheduled surgery a few days later. In the meantime I had everyone praying for me, including a Pentecostal prayer group. The night before surgery I left my room in the hospital and went down to the chapel. It was there that I prostrated myself at the feet of my Mother of Perpetual Help, crying out in what little voice I had left, pleading for my voice.

You see, I had to sign a document authorizing the removal of my larynx if, during surgery, they found a mass of cancer. Well that night I prayed and I pleaded with OLPH and her Son, Jesus. If I was to lose my voice I wanted my last words to be with them.

Well, I had the surgery and went back to Panama City to patiently wait for the biopsy results. Sure enough I was diagnosed with cancer on the left vocal cord. I was then schedule for 12 weeks of radiation at the Air Force Medical Center in Biloxi, MS. All my friends were still praying for me, even my Pentecostal brothers and sisters.

I don’t remember the day of the week, but I was sitting in the waiting room of the radiation center waiting to be called in to be tattooed at the spot the radiation would be directed. A radiologist came out and called me into a board room where two other doctors sat behind a long table. The one in the center stood and said, "We don’t understand why the doctors at Tyndall sent you here. We have reviewed the frozen sections sent to us and we cannot find any trace of cancer. You need to report back to you commander at Tyndall with our findings."

The Air Force doctors at Tyndall had little faith in those findings and I was soon transferred to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, to be monitored by the Radiologist at Wilford Hall Medical Center. Upon my arrival at Wilford Hall I was scheduled for another vocal cord scraping. You guested it. No cancer again. So I was monitored by them for the next five years and to this day there are no signs of cancer. I am retired but still live in San Antonio where I am a permanent deacon.

I leave the conclusion to you y’all. But I believe in miracles and to this day I constantly sing the praises of my Mother of Perpetual Help. With God’s love and mine,

— Deacon Roy

I attended St. Mary’s from 1962 to 1966 and graduated from there. I remember in my junior year, as a boy of 16, kneeling at her shrine the night before I was to go home to be with my mother as she died from cancer. Many years have passed since that night, but Our Lady of Perpetual Help remains for me a constant source of hope and peace.

Thanks, Redemptorists, for continuing to make her known and loved!
— John