The gift of miracles has never failed to show its presence in the Catholic Church, and last week at Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach, the faithful gathered in the school auditorium, more than three hundred strong, to help bring a miracle to one of their own.
The journey to the room for the more than 300 people began back in the summer when a beloved member of their community was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Teddy Frank and his wife, Donna, were rocked when he was diagnosed with the disease after a blood test showed a low platelet count. “I went for some tests and the doctor called me back for some more,” Frank said. “People in my family don’t die from cancer—they have heart attacks.”
He remembered a conversation he and Donna, a kindergarten teacher at the Ave Maria Academy, had with the doctor about his future. “I told him I wanted to be able to finish my 20 years with the city,” Teddy said. “He asked me how long that would be and when I said eight years he just looked at me and shook his head no. Then Donna said “How about five years? The doctor again shook his head. And then Donna just looked at me and said “OK, we’re going to Lourdes.” And from that instant he said they began receiving spiritual confirmation that they were doing the right thing.
Fellow parishioner and friend Frank Racano heard about the couple’s idea to go to Lourdes for a cure and decided they should have all the help they need to get there. Racano and his wife, along with a few others, started the ball rolling and before long the entire community was involved.
“This wasn’t about raising money to help people out. This was about an entire community investing their faith and love in two people who so deserve the miracle they are after,” said Ave Maria Academy Principal Maria Cuomo. “We are in awe of the exceptional faith and love they share no matter what adversity they are facing right now. It is a blessing to know them.”
Father Anthony Rucando shared his feelings about the evening as he addressed those assembled. “Good people are here for a good cause. Tonight represents hard work, compassion and so many other wonderful things,” Fr. Rucando added. “It all speaks volumes about what this parish is and I am privileged to be its pastor.”
With local restaurants donating the food and the school supplying the space for an informal dinner, friends and family came to share a very special night with the Franks, and presented the couple with an envelope containing over $12,000 in donations for the trip.
After accepting the support and blessings of those gathered, Teddy Frank spoke to his friends. “I can’t even begin to tell you how overwhelmed I am at what you have done for us. Our faith has kept us this far and will carry us the rest of the way. Many people have shared stories with me tonight that have greatly inspired me. My wife has no doubt that we will find a healing in Lourdes. You are all so precious to me.”
And although people shared many different stories about the Franks and their family during the night, there were several consistencies about the beloved family—but none more than the testimony of their unending faith, evidenced by Donna Frank when she spoke to thank everyone.
“When I walked into this room tonight I too was overwhelmed. It wasn’t only because of the love I felt in this room. It was because I saw Jesus Christ in each and every one of your faces,” she said. “I look at you all as individual chapters in our lives and I’m hoping that the story of our life will be a very long novel.”
by Patricia Adams