St. Gerard Answers Our Prayers
By Br. Gerry Patin, C.Ss.R.
My story about St. Gerard goes back 68 years to July 24, 1949, the day of my birth. The weather that July was warmer than usual. My Mom was having some difficulty as her pregnancy was coming to term and she was close to giving birth to me. Mom was hemorrhaging somewhat for a few days before my birth. Soon it was evident that it was time for my birth and Dad drove Mom to St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As my delivery neared, complications set in and the obstetrician was very concerned that both Mom and her baby may not survive. My Dad was made aware of this and was very troubled with the situation and the thought of how it would be to go home and tell my four brothers that they lost their Mom and little baby brother.
Mom was a faith filled person all of her life. She was most aware of St. Gerard being the patron of Mothers and safe deliveries. Years later she told me that there was a statue of St. Gerard in the corridor of the maternity ward at St. Mary’s hospital. She had heard of people receiving the blessing of St. Gerard at just this kind of serious situation. Again the doctor expressed grave concern and Mom then spoke up. She asked for the hospital chaplain to come and give her the St. Gerard blessing. The chaplain was called and a short time later arrived and gave Mom and me the blessing of St. Gerard. Very soon after the blessing was given the hemorrhaging ceased and the doctor said, “we are going to be able to have a normal delivery.”
The delivery was difficult but Mom and I survived. Dad was able to go home and tell my brothers that Mom was doing well and that they had a little baby brother.
With the powerful intercession of St. Gerard, both Mom and I left the hospital a few days later in fine health. I was given the name of Gerard as my baptismal name for which I am most grateful.
We belonged to a Redemptorist Parish, St Alphonsus in Grand Rapids, so St. Gerard was no stranger to Mom and Dad and my family. In that church there was a shrine dedicated to St. Gerard Majella. I recall that many times Mom and Dad would pray at that shrine.
Fourteen years later I left home and entered the seminary desiring to become a Redemptorist Brother as was St. Gerard Majella. I remember reading the life story of St. Gerard and I wished to follow in his footsteps.
My ministry over the years as a Redemptorist brother has brought me in touch with many people who have great faith in St. Gerard’s intercession. I am now stationed at the Redemptorist Retreat Center in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. In our chapel we have a beautiful statue of St. Gerard. On many occasions, I mention to those on retreat the story of my birth and that my Mother and I almost died. We believe that it was my Mom’s great faith in St. Gerard’s intersession that allowed her to have a normal and safe delivery and healthy baby.
Next to this statue is a book in which people can write their prayer requests and notes of thanksgiving for prayers answered through the intersession of St. Gerard. I can recall many people asking me to pray for a safe pregnancy or delivery of a healthy child. One time an older man was very concerned about a granddaughter’s pregnancy because she was having much difficulty. I gave him a blessed handkerchief of St. Gerard and he gave it to his granddaughter. A year later when this gentleman arrived for his yearly retreat, he came right up to me with a huge smile on his face and handed me a photo of a beautiful baby.
Many people who attend our retreats at our center have had similar stories of the many blessings they and their family members have received through St. Gerard’s intersession.
St. Gerard was truly a blessing to those he ministered to in person many years ago in Italy and even more so today, 262 years later. We celebrate his feast day on October 16th.