Outside his childhood home where he witnessed an extraordinary astronomical display, Paul (right) stands with the house's current owner, Ray.
'I Think God Was Watching Over Me'
By John Foster (Oct 8, 2008)
As a teenager, Paul witnessed a remarkable display of the northern lights in the winter of 1938 at his parents' home in Newburyport, Mass.
"About 5:15 p.m. I was looking up at the sky for constellations. And then I saw the most extraordinary display of northern lights. When I looked straight up, I saw a ring. Rays would shoot out and hit the rim of the ring, and burst into dazzling colors, much like fireworks. It formed the shape of a crown. No one else I knew saw it, but I did. I have always viewed it as gift from God."
It was only later in life that Paul — who has always had a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother — learned that Mary had predicted such a sign at Fatima on July 13, 1917.
When World War II broke out, Paul, now 18 years old, and a number of his neighborhood friends, the so-called Back Bay Boys, enlisted in the Navy. He was sent to the Pacific and served on the Montpelier, alongside John F. Kennedy's PT109.
The Montpelier was a light cruiser, and Paul and his mates engaged in many ship-to-ship battles with the Japanese at Guadalcanal during the Solomon Island campaign.
In Paul's words, "the experience of war shook my faith. I saw too much war." When the war ended, he fell on hard times. "I started drinking heavily. My mother, God bless her soul, gave me some 'tough love.' She kicked me out of the house because of my drinking.
"But God brings you down, so He can bring you back up," Paul says. "I hit bottom, and then I started slowly going back to the Catholic Church while attending college in Chicago."
He returned home to Newburyport and took a job at the Post Office there. In 1956, he moved to Florida and started working at the Post Office in Fort Lauderdale. Early on in his time in Fort Lauderdale, he met a woman from Chicago, who shared a special memory with him.
"It was in Blessed Sacrament Church about 40 years ago. I was there for a Blue Army meeting. We started talking about the different events of our lifetime, I happened to bring up 'The Great Sign,' as I call it. She said, 'I saw that! I was living in Chicago.' She was the only person I ever met that saw the same thing that I saw on that winter day in 1938."
And what does he think when he recalls the incident nearly 70 years ago? "I think I was privileged," he says. "I think God was watching over me."
Today, Paul is a member of the 13th of the Month Club, a group of Marian Helpers devoted to Mary. The Marians offer a special Holy Mass for club members at Fatima and the club members pray the Rosary for the intentions printed in the monthly newsletter. He also shows his devotion to Mary as a member of the Legion of Mary and the Blue Army.
If you share Paul's devotion to Mary, you might consider joining the 13th of the Month Club. Email me for information on how to join at firstname.lastname@example.org.