It began one day after a days work at the cafeteria. He entered our chapel to pray the Rosary as he did each afternoon. On this particular day he came beside our Lady and put his hand on her shoulder. A statue of her stood as one enters the chapel. He had a hope and prayer in his heart that he might see his mother in Ireland once more before she died and pray the Rosary with her. Sean is originally from the Aran Islands which are part of Ireland. In his adulthood he had moved to the United States. He grew up one of 10 children praying the Rosary at his mother's knee each night. His earliest memories were of praying the Rosary. Now with his mother's health declining he wanted to see her one more time and pray the Rosary with her. Sean shared with us that on that afternoon with his hand on Our Blessed Mother's shoulder he made a request of her. He asked her to be his travel agent...to help him to see his mother one more time before she died and pray the Rosary with her.
Sean went on to share that he had begun thinking how he might make such a trip. He imagined that he would need to wait until summer which was 9 months off when his daughter would be home from college and could fill in for him at the cafeteria. Yet things would unfold in a very different way. Instead of waiting until summer he would find himself home for Christmas and praying by his mother's side just as he had hoped. Each step he marveled was completely opposite from how he had planned it. Yet each piece fell into place perfectly. As Sean sat there telling the story he gazed out with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes recalling each part. Sean has since lost his sight over the past 20 years. Yet one could see him bringing back to his mind's eye each detail. He shared that on the last day of his visit, the day before New Years Day, he sat with his mother. They were praying the Rosary. His mother was looking out the window and all of a sudden both of them began to laugh almost uncontrollably. They were so happy. His sister called down to find out what was so funny and neither Sean nor his mother could say what it was they were laughing about but they felt so much joy in their hearts. Sean later felt that this was a special gift that he and his mother received that day, a rejoicing together. This as it would turn out, would indeed be the last Rosary they would say together and the last day they would spend together.
Sean left the next day for a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock. The bus dropped him off some distance from the Shrine and he began to walk hoping to find a Bed and Breakfast to spend the night. Soft fluffy snow was falling on the hay fields. A women met him on the road and offered to have her son give Sean a ride as soon as he was back from the field. The friendly mother and son indeed did give Sean a ride and brought him to the door of a Bed and Breakfast near the Shrine. The women who answered felt terrible but the room they normally rent had no heat. Sean asked if she had a hot water bottle and she said yes. The stay was perfect and in reflection, he felt all was perfectly put together. This husband and wife had no children and were delighted to have company for the holiday. As Sean finished his story he said that several weeks ago on his walk to Mass he was thinking about this visit. He was thinking about how things had turned out so different from what he imagined but yet so perfectly. He said it was then that a thought came to mind...didn't you ask me to plan it?
Indeed he had asked Our Lady. The thought was his own but the sentiment brought him a great deal of joy.
Hearing this story from Sean was honey for my heart. Sean is in his mid seventies and has spent his life devoted to praying Rosary and attending daily Mass. He is now blind yet he knows the route to Church so well he comes rain or shine. The friendship he shares with Our Blessed Mother is a deep one. He has led a simple life of work, family and prayer. He has known suffering but also pure joy.
Sean is also a member of Our Children's Rosary and attends our monthly meetings at St. Thomas. He can't see the children but loves to sit in the back and hear the children praying. My 11 year old son often helps him navigate around the Church. You can see Sean in the middle of our theme song video for "Rosary Children"
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Children's Rosary Book