'Doc' Brings Him Home

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By Melanie Williams (Mar 21, 2017)
Dr. Richard "Doc" Aulicino and Dusty Frank are friends with a spiritual connection such as few ever find. They both have made it through adversities — for Dusty, tremendous adversities — and lived to share their story.

Twenty years ago, Doc, a holistic dentist from Lake George, New York, had a nightmare about a large, dark "humanoid figure," an evil presence. Although he was paralyzed in the dream, he wasn't afraid. He said the name of Jesus and was fully protected. As he started to wake up, it took him awhile to move again. He was lethargic all morning and, for no reason, angry at his wife and daughter. Doc decided he needed to get away for a while. He cancelled all of his appointments and went up to his house in Ghent, New York, for a week-long retreat.

One day, he took a drive to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts and went for a hike. The temperature outside was in the single digits — bitterly cold. He soon found himself at a chapel: the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, in Stockbridge. The time was 3 p.m., known as the Hour of Great Mercy, when Jesus died on the Cross and when the Marian Fathers and Shrine pilgrims recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, as Jesus requested to the world through St. Faustina.

Jesus told her, "In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world — mercy triumphed over justice" (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1572)

Not that Doc knew anything about any of this.

What he did know was that it was nice and warm inside the Shrine, so he decided to stay for awhile. He listened to the chant of the Chaplet — "... For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world." He found a booklet in the pew with the words to the prayer, and he joined in.

He decided to make the same hike again the following day. By the end of the Chaplet on the second day, the lethargy, anger, and darkness that had clung to him as a result of that dream completely lifted. He felt light, happy, and like his old self again. From then on, he learned all about St. Faustina and the message of Divine Mercy.

Sometime after this experience, Doc met Dusty.

A friendship begins

Dusty owned a local restaurant. He was also a rock musician. Rarely, if ever, did he speak to his customers, but one day, Doc came into the restaurant and, for some reason, Doc caught his eye. He knew he needed to speak to him. They immediately hit it off.

"We each recognized a spiritual connection in each other," Dusty said.

Dusty had had a life of great suffering. When he was a boy, he attended Catholic school where he says he experienced terrible physical and psychological abuse from the sisters and sexual abuse from his priest. When he spoke up about it, no one believed him. He never finished school. Life didn't get a whole lot better. Several attempts at a business career ended in failure.

Then, in 1983, he was badly burned in a house fire and spent six weeks in a burn unit. In 1998, he was in a car crash that kept him hospitalized for nearly a year. He underwent 11 spine surgeries. In 2007, he was diagnosed with cancer in the spine and went through extensive treatments and chemotherapy. Most recently, in 2013, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was given three months to live if he did not start aggressive conventional cancer treatment.

That was the breaking point.

'I'll die right here'

Upon hearing the diagnosis, Dusty went out to Lake George — his old stomping grounds — where Doc ran his dentistry business. In his boat, he traveled out along the large, secluded, serpentine-shaped lake to a hidden cove at the base of a mountain. It's a special place for him. It's where he used to pray as a boy when he was being abused in school.

"God was my best friend when I was a boy," Dusty recalls. "He was all I ever had to fall back on."

Despite the cold, steady rain, Dusty stepped out onto the rocky shore, fell to the ground, and cried out to God, "Take me. I don't see any rhyme or reason to this life of mine! Why can't You cut me a break! I'm not fighting anymore. I'll die right here. Just take me!" He lay there, sobbing, for hours, wishing to die. He finally got up and made his way back onto his boat and noticed he had missed a phone call from Doc. He called him back.

"Yeah, Doc, what's up?"

"Where are you?" Doc asked.

"I'm halfway up the lake in the rain."

"Well, I'm down here sitting on the beach. The rain has stopped here," Doc said.

This was the same beach Dusty would pass by to get back to his house.

Dusty thought, "I'm not interested in visiting anybody. I'm numb with despair. I just want to go home. I only have a few months to live, hoping it will be less. But I always feel better when I talk to this guy."

Dusty moored his boat, met up with Doc, and let loose.

"You shouldn't worry," Doc told him. "You're doing exactly what you need to do. You're unloading this problem to God and letting Him handle it."

That was the day that changed Dusty's life. Their friendship became closer and deeper. Doc — who had suffered polio as a child that resulted in permanent damage to his legs — taught Dusty about organic foods, natural medicine, and, most important of all, the power of drawing closer to God through prayer.

'Conduit to the divine'

Dusty was bitter towards the Catholic faith due to the abuse he had suffered as a young boy, but he decided to keep an open mind as Doc brought him to the Shrine in Stockbridge. Over the span of several visits, he was given the grace to forgive all those who had hurt him throughout his life.

Because of his illness, he had been told he wouldn't see Christmas 2013, but he attributes his healthy diet, natural medicine, and prayer to his cancer now being in remission, and he's no longer on any of the 15 pharmaceutical medications he had been on for pain and other chronic issues for the past 15 years.

"I never thought I would enter a Catholic Church ever again," he said, "much less recognize it as a sacred conduit to the divine, but the Shrine feels like home to me now. Whether troubled or grateful, there's no place that I'd rather be to connect with God."

To this day, Dusty and Doc often come to the Shrine.

"The thing that I've identified with over the last three years," Dusty said, "is that Jesus Himself suffered extreme adversity. It's more difficult to relate to someone's suffering if we haven't suffered. I knew throughout life that God could relate to my suffering and that He loved me, but I could never find a satisfying conduit of direct communication with God. Over the past three years, the Shrine has become an absolute haven for me, and the peace I find there has helped transform me from a troubled, ill, dying, and very angry man into a serene, happy, and very grateful child of God, now possessing a sense of inner peace that I've sought after my whole life."

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Sandra Faustina - Mar 23, 2017

The power of DIVINE MERCY wonderful story very up lifting

Jess Alejandria - Mar 21, 2017

Praise be to God!! What I great come from those adversities.

Therese Rosario - Mar 21, 2017

Praise Jesus in the holy Catholic Church. Amen. Therese

Sonia - Mar 21, 2017

Thank you for this. I need to hear this. God bless you!

Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC - Mar 21, 2017

What a story! Never underestimate the power of God's mercy!