Last week I flew to California with Georgette and my daughters to attend the wedding of someone who is very special to us. As you may already know, Georgette and I have 7 children – Harry, Anna, Maria, Laura, Mary Rose, Christine, and Teresa. The wedding was on Saturday, June 18. The groom was my son, Harry, and his bride was Kathryn Neill.
Harry was born 10 months after Georgette and I were married. Our wedding took place on June 15, 1980 (during the summer between my first and second year of law school). Our initial plan was to wait until I was out of school before starting a family, but our plan obviously changed when Georgette became pregnant with Harry.
Within the first two months of pregnancy, Georgette was hospitalized twice because of serious complications. During her second hospitalization, the doctor told us that there was a 90% chance we were going to lose our baby.
Because of her condition, I ended up returning to St. Louis for my second year of law school – without Georgette. She stayed in Peoria with her sister and brother-in-law. I attended school during the week and returned to Peoria every weekend to be with Georgette. She continued to have problems with the pregnancy and her doctor made it clear to both of us that he thought it would be too much of a risk for her to move to St. Louis. He wanted Georgette to stay in Peoria where he and her family could take care of her.
I ended up going against the doctor’s wishes and moved Georgette to St. Louis to live with me. The decision to move her was a leap of faith. There were a lot of people praying for us and I felt that if we put all of our trust in God, He would take care of Georgette and our baby.
It is impossible to put into words how difficult the move to St. Louis was for Georgette. On a Sunday afternoon, I loaded up our two cars – my station wagon and her small Buick Skylark – and we left for St. Louis. I drove the station wagon and she followed me in the Buick. There were no cell phones back then so I stopped about every 45 minutes to make sure Georgette was ok. Every time I pulled over and walked back to her car to check on her, she was crying. She felt scared and alone. I felt completely helpless.
While we were in St. Louis, we prayed the rosary every day and asked our Blessed Mother to guide and protect us. A friend of mine who was a student at the St. Louis University School of Medicine recommended a doctor that he was familiar with. The doctor turned out to be everything we wanted in a doctor: calm, personable, smart, experienced, compassionate… and Catholic.
During our first appointment with the doctor, Georgette and I both noticed a beautiful blue glass statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on a windowsill in his office. To us, the statue was a confirmation that our prayers were being answered and that our Lady was watching over us.
When we talked to the doctor about which hospital we were going to use when it came time to deliver our baby, the doctor narrowed our choices down to two different hospitals: St. John’s Mercy Medical Center and St Mary’s Hospital. The doctor recommended St. Mary’s, another confirmation that our Lady was watching over us.
Our baby was born on March 27, 1981, at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis. The labor and delivery went well. Prior to checking out of the hospital, a nurse offered to take a picture of me, Georgette and our baby in the lobby of the hospital standing next to a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Ever since then, the picture has been a reminder to us that our Blessed Mother was by our side from the time of Harry’s conception up until the time of his delivery.
After the doctor and hospital bills were processed through our insurance, we received a final bill for $35. At the time Georgette became pregnant, she was employed by CAT and was covered under CAT’s health care plan. Because of the numerous complications she had with her pregnancy, she was unable to work. As a result, she was placed on disability by CAT. From the time she was placed on disability until 6 weeks after Harry was born, she received a weekly $199 disability check from CAT. In addition to taking care of our physical and spiritual needs, our Lady also took care of our financial needs.
Fast forward 30 years.
After we arrived in California last week, I asked Georgette for the name and address of the church where the wedding was going to take place. The name of the church was St. Mary’s by the Sea, located in Huntington Beach, California. St. Mary’s was not the church Harry and Kathryn initially chose for their wedding. The church they wanted was already taken. Fortunately for them, the Blessed Mother had already chosen and reserved the church that she wanted.
I found out later from Kathryn’s mother that the first time Harry travelled to California to meet Kathryn’s family was on May 13, 2010, the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. In 1984, when Harry was 3 years old, we travelled to Fatima Portugal with a group of Catholics. While we were in Fatima, we consecrated our family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Our Lady took care of Harry while he was in his mother’s womb and has continued to take care of him throughout his life. She has also taken care of each of our daughters throughout their lives and has continued to look after and take care of me and Georgette.
I have four adult children now (Mary, Christine and Teresa are still teenagers). I only bother my adult children about one thing. I periodically ask each of them the same question: “Are you praying your rosary every day?” I don’t always get the answer I want, so I remind them that they need to communicate with their spiritual mother every single day. How else can they expect to have a relationship with her if they’re not communicating with her on a regular basis?
Any person who expects assistance from the Mother of God needs to nurture their relationship with her by communicating with her every day. Do you communicate with the most important person in your life every day? Why not do the same with the Mother of God? A rosary takes 15 minutes to pray. It’s not a lot to ask for a lifetime of guidance and protection from the Queen of Heaven.
Harry and Gerogette: I love reading about ur families and Ur deep love for My Jesus and Mary…I cant wait from week to week to read ur next article ! God bless Ur families; Keep up the good work ! Margo <
Thanks Margo, good to hear from you.
Thank you for sharing Harry’s story. jJoe and I have also dedicated our children to Our Lady and we have had our home enthroned to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the late 80’s. A footnote about the day Harry came to meet Kathryn and our family is that my eldest daughter, Sr. Catherine Therese happened to be in Fatima on that day and was praying for Kathryn and Harry’s meeting. Sr. Catherine is assigned to an orphanage near Fatima and has only traveled to the Fatima shrine twice or three times in four years since living in Portugal.
Good to hear from you Marsha. We enjoyed our time with you in California. You did a great job in planning the wedding.