Couple credits healing to 'spiritual friends' Mother Seton, Blessed McGivney
EMMITSBURG, Md. (CNS) -- Joe and Megan Hermosillo of Frederick, Maryland, have always enjoyed their 9-year-old daughter Maureen's participation in the living history program at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg.
In the program, Maureen portrays an actual student at St. Joseph's Academy during Mother Seton's time in Emmitsburg during the early 19th century. She also helps give tours to some of the 55,000 people who typically visit the shrine each year.
And living near the shrine of the United States' first native-born saint makes it easy for the family to attend Mass and go to confession there.
It's a place that has been called "Catholic Williamsburg," a nod to its programs that bring the history of this American saint to life, while offering a prayerful respite for pilgrims.
The Hermosillos habitually pray for the intercessions of saints, as they navigate the highs and lows of family life: job changes, pregnancies and minor health concerns.
Little did they know the ways the intercession of saints would truly come to life for them.
In early January, the Hermosillos, parents of six young children, faced the kind of health crisis every family fears. It started with a cough.
After Joe and Megan had seemingly recovered from what appeared to be a mild case of COVID-19, Joe began coughing again, feeling increasingly fatigued and found that his blood oxygen level tested low on an oximeter they keep at home.
Joe Hermosillo called a doctor who told him to go to the emergency room to be checked with more accurate equipment. A reading of 95% to 100% is considered a healthy blood oxygen level, but at the hospital, Joe's blood oxygen level recorded an alarming 65%.
"They threw me in the ER," Joe said. "They stripped me down, they hooked me up, and I must have had 10 staff members around me. I told them my wife was in the lobby and she could make all the decisions, and then I passed out."
He was placed on a ventilator. Then his condition worsened to the point where doctors told Megan that her husband required an echo-machine to assist his blood flow.
Megan rallied friends and family members to pray for Joe, and she wanted to choose one saint to ask for intercession. She made a list and sought the advice of a local priest and her confessor, Father Timothy Grassi.
He recommended someone not on her list: Blessed Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus.
Megan made phone calls, texted and posted on social media, asking everyone to pray a novena to Blessed McGivney, asking his intercession for Joe's complete healing.
Thousands responded and passed along the call to prayer, and hours later, in the middle of the night, Megan got a call from the hospital. Inexplicably, Joe's blood oxygen level had doubled.
But Joe was not out of the woods yet, and his friends and family were determined to obtain a relic of Blessed McGivney as well.
A family friend, Father Bill Kuchinsky, and Joe's sister Teresa, each not knowing what the other was doing, went to the Seton shrine and prayed before the tomb of Mother Seton, asking for her help in obtaining a relic. Staff members at the shrine also spread the word, asking volunteers and others to pray for the saint's intercession in obtaining a relic.
Quickly, the family obtained two relics, and Father Kuchinsky was able to visit Joe in the hospital, bless him with a relic, and ask Blessed McGivney to pray for his healing.
Four days later, Joe was taken off the ventilator, and a short while later, he began preparations to go home, where he has since fully recovered from his life-threatening illness.
Joe's healing has been submitted to the cause for Blessed McGivney's canonization and is being investigated as a miracle. Personally, though, Joe and Megan have no doubt about what happened.
"We know that Blessed Michael McGivney interceded for us," Megan said, "and without a doubt Mother Seton gets the credit for the relics."
The Hermosillos share their story with anyone who will listen.
In August, along with their children, they were invited to provide testimony for participants following "In the Footsteps of Blessed Michael McGivney," a tour sponsored by the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center of the Knights of Columbus in New Haven, Connecticut.
The couple also wonder about the close connection between Mother Seton and Blessed Michael McGivney.
Though their times on earth did not overlap, their geographical paths did. Blessed McGivney studied at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, place with special significance for Mother Seton as well. The lower chapel at the seminary is the place where, almost 70 years earlier, she took her vows of chastity and obedience.
"I don't know if they were spiritual friends during his time here on earth," Megan added. "But we absolutely know that they are spiritual friends in heaven."