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Father Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, Bobby Digan, and Maureen Digan pray at Faustina's tomb in Poland in 1981.

Photo: Marian archives

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Bobby received a dramatic healing that allowed him to live an almost normal life.

The following is the second in a two-part series. Read part 1.

By Felix Carroll

It was 1979, a year after the Church lifted its 20-year ban on Faustina's writings — a ban the Polish nun herself prophesied, caused by faulty translations of her writings.

Bob Digan knew nothing about Divine Mercy. But one day, a flyer arrived in the mail that advertised a film in nearby Cambridge on the topic of Divine Mercy and Sr. Faustina. He felt pulled to go see it. So one evening, while some family members kept his sick wife and child company, Bob headed off to Cambridge.

He recalls the film. It was produced in the United States before the ban. It was in bad shape. It kept jamming up in the projector. Nonetheless, says Bob, the message came through loud and clear of the prophetic revelations given to us by God through this Polish nun to proclaim the heart of the Gospel in a way especially suited to meet the needs of our era.

For Bob, something just clicked.

"I can still see him walking through the living room door that evening," says his wife, Maureen. "He had a smile on his face. He was saying 'Isn't the name Faustina beautiful?' I remember looking at him and saying, 'It's ugly.' "

Maureen sighs. She's still a little ashamed of how bitter she had become at that point. But her bitterness could certainly be excused.

Even Bob, one evening, found himself so physically, psychologically and spiritually drained, he literally crawled across the living room floor toward the Bible. He was crying. He said, "Lord speak to me." He opened the Bible and pointed randomly. His finger landed on the words, "Your sins are forgiven."

Something clicked again. Divine Mercy. God loves us. Trust. Pray. Do not be afraid.

"God illuminated my mind with what the theologians would call an intellectual vision," Bob says. "You don't see anything, you just know."

Know what, exactly?

That would soon be revealed. He packed up his family. He drove three hours west to Stockbridge, Mass., home of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, who have been official promoters of the authentic Divine Mercy message and devotion since three years after the death of Faustina.

Bob parked the car by the chapel. He went in and asked to see Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, the vice-postulator for Sr. Faustina's beatification cause. He didn't prepare Maureen for what he was about to say.

Once seated in Fr. Seraphim's office, Bob let it out. He said he received a "collect call" from God to bring his family to Poland.

"I understood that I was to take my family to Poland so that God's mercy then could burst forth throughout the world through Sister Faustina," Bob explains. "And as a favor for making that trip, God would heal not one but both Maureen and Bobby."

So, he invited Fr. Seraphim. "We want you to witness the miracle," Bob told him.

Both Maureen's and Fr. Seraphim's jaws dropped. Father Seraphim was intrigued. Maureen was alarmed.

"He never mentioned it to me — the whole three-hour trip there," Maureen recalls. "I thought, 'Oh my Good Lord! My Rock of Gibraltar is crumbling! Bob's becoming a religious nut. He was the only solid one, and now he's falling apart!"

"This wasn't wishful thinking," Bob recalls. "I knew. I was convinced."

With permission secured from his Provincial, Fr. Seraphim was ready to go. With permission secured from her doctors, Maureen was, too. Actually, she didn't want to go. She finally agreed, for the sake of her marriage.

At Faustina's tomb
Everything seemed so chaotic. They landed in Poland on March 23, 1981, on Bobby's eighth birthday. The Digans, Fr. Seraphim and a friend of Fr. Seraphim. But, Maureen's wheelchair didn't make it. Also, all their luggage did not arrived until three days latter. That delayed the trip down to Krakow for three days. When they finally got to Faustina's former convent, Maureen was exhausted. From the beginning, the idea of this whole trip seemed extreme, fanatical, idiotic.

But she tried to be a good sport. Once at the convent, Maureen made her first good confession since she was very young. Afterwards, she felt a closeness to the Lord. She felt herself letting Him in a little bit. She was still brash, still mad at God — mad as can be.

One evening, at Faustina's tomb, the group was praying the ninth day of a novena of prayers in which they asked for healing.

"It was about nine o'clock at night," recalls Maureen. "Father Seraphim suggested we pray the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy for a healing. I thought, 'Ah, healing — whatever. This is something you read about in the Bible. It doesn't really happen. But I'll go in and go through it just to make them happy."

Then, inwardly she heard Sr. Faustina say: "If you ask for my help, I will give it to you."

Maureen responded: "Okay, Faustina you dragged me to this country so far from home, if you are going to do something, do it now!"
That's when it all happened.

All the pain seemed to drain out of her body. Her swollen leg, which was due to be amputated shortly, went back to its normal size.

"I knew if I looked, every one else would look, so I didn't look," Maureen says.

Bobby, too, had a sudden change. Confined to a wheelchair, he showed a lot of energy.

"It was unusual how he had a very gleeful smile on his face," Fr. Seraphim later recalled. "We noticed that something was happening with him. He was sort of listless before that."

Father Seraphim noticed, too, that Maureen seemed radiant and peaceful and calm, which she was not up till the moment when the prayers begun.

Father Seraphim gave him a bouquet of flowers and knitted roses. Following the prayers, he was able to pick Bobby out of the wheelchair so that Bobby could put the flowers on the tomb.

Back at the room, Maureen inspected her leg. The swelling was gone. At first fearful, she didn't tell anyone and went to bed. She slept till 5 o'clock the next afternoon. So did Bobby. As Maureen roused awake, he had sat up and was coloring. Sitting up on his own was not something he had been able to do.

Maureen looked at her leg. The swelling was still gone. She called her husband over to see.

"Yeah," said Bob. "That's what we came here for. You've been healed."

It took several days for Maureen to accept that she received a blessed gift of healing from God.

When she returned to the United States, five doctors examined her independently. They each concluded she had been completely healed. They had no medical explanation. The Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in consultation with five doctors, examined the accumulated evidence. Then, a team of theologians did the same, followed by a team of cardinals and bishops. The cure was accepted by all as a miracle caused through Sr. Faustina's intercession to The Divine Mercy, which led to St. Faustina's beatification on April 18, 1993.

The Digans say Bobby received a dramatic but incomplete healing. Even during the trip itself, they were able to take him off his seizure medication, something they warn people NOT to do without medical advice or supervision.

"He didn't even have a twitch," Bob says. He lived another 10 years. During this time, he learned to ride a bike. He played wheelchair basketball. He won gold and silver medals in the Special Olympics. They were planning to buy a special van so that Maureen and Bobby could run errands together and be more independent.

By this time, Bob and Maureen had left the city and moved out to western Massachusetts, where the couple took jobs with the Marians in Stockbridge to help spread the message of Divine Mercy. Believing that the message of Divine Mercy is the prophetic message for our age Bob sacrificed a very solid job with a reduction of pay, benefits and retirement pension.

Life was good for the Digans. But in 1989, Bobby underwent what was expected to be a routine operation to correct scoliosis. It didn't go well due to surgical complications Bobby became paralyzed unable to eat, drink or walk ever again. Then his condition suddenly and increasingly deteriorated.

By May 1991, bed-bound, Bobby called his mother into his room. "Mommy," he said, "I have something to tell you. God is going to send His Son Jesus to take me to heaven soon. Don't be sad and cry."

He then asked her to send his daddy in.

"I just called Bob, and then I went into the bathroom and turned on all the faucets so Bobby wouldn't hear me crying," says Maureen.

To this day, she and Bob cannot talk about Bobby without it bringing tears. They still miss him terribly.

Bobby, despite his developmental disabilities, prepared for his own death. Though he had little understanding for the arrangement of dates and time, to everyone's amazement he said he wouldn't be there for his mother's birthday in June but that he'd be there for Mother's Day. He arranged to have one of his nurses fill a planter outside the Digan home with flowers for Mother's Day. He then arranged to have the nurse get his mother flowers for her birthday — flowers, he insisted, "that will never die."

Father Seraphim, who had grown close to Bobby over the years, said the boy had "a fine sense of the spiritual, which was unusual for someone of his age." He recalls how Bobby liked things to be blessed so that they had some connection with God. Bobby would recite one very simple, very profound prayer that his parent taught him: "Mary, I give my heart to you".

He was with Bobby during the boy's last moments of life. He recalls how Bobby was unresponsive. They celebrated Holy Mass at his bedside.

"We knew he was going," recalls Fr. Seraphim. "When we came to the moment of Holy Communion I said, 'Bobby, we are ready to give you Holy Communion. Would you please open your mouth so we can put some Precious Blood in.'" Bobby opened his mouth very quickly. Father Seraphim dripped some Precious Blood onto Bobby's tongue. It was too little, so Fr. Seraphim asked Bobby to open his mouth again.

Bobby "very slowly, and deliberately, opened his mouth. His tongue was cupped. He held it there long enough for me to put a spoonful into it," Fr. Seraphim said. "Slowly he withdrew his tongue, and slowly he closed his mouth. It was the most beautiful reception of the Eucharist I had ever seen."

Shortly afterwards, with Fr. Seraphim, Bob and Maureen all had their hands on Bobby. On May 23, 1991, at the age of 18, Bobby took his last breath.

Something was certainly afoot. Upon Bobby's death, his whole complexion changed. He no longer looked emaciated. Lying there, he suddenly looked like a healthy boy again. His color returned. His freckles, too. One could even detect a smile on his face.

Four flowers that will never die still hang on Maureen's bedroom wall.

How to sort it all out?
There are other things on other walls: an image of The Divine Mercy, a photo of Bobby on his bicycle, a print of the Last Supper, Maureen and Bob on their wedding day. All these things somehow interrelate. Bob and Maureen sorted it out years ago.

They've sorted out why they think God chose "stubborn Maureen" for a healing.

"It's to prove to people that God does love all of us," Maureen says. "It's us that turn our backs on God. He never turns His back on us, no matter how low we get."

They've sorted out why a miracle in this moment of history.

"In our day and age, when everything is so chaotic, and everything seems so discouraging and there's all this violence, the answer is still very clear: God is still with us," says Bob. "He allowed the healing to take place to let us know that He is still with us. But it is also a preparation for His final coming.

"We do believe this message of Divine Mercy is the prophetic message for our age, a call for people to turn back to God. Christ told St. Faustina that before He returns as a just Judge, 'I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice,'" (see Diary, 1146).

"We believed God had touched our lives, not for ourselves, but for a witness to the Church," says Bob.

They've sorted out why they think Bobby didn't receive a "complete" healing.

"Bobby's vocation in life was finished," Maureen says. "It was time for him to go home. This is a witness for others that the greatest healing comes in going to the Promised Land."

"Maureen said that Bobby was the one who received the ultimate healing," says Bob.

Bob and Maureen are both retired. As of recently, Maureen contends with diabetes. They're in need of a new minivan that's better equipped for wheel chair access. Comparatively speaking, she's healthy. Bob is studying for the permanent deaconate.

They've given talks to various groups and conferences from coast to coast and in other countries. Sometimes it can get weird. Particularly when some misguided souls seem intent on putting too much emphasis on Maureen's healing rather than the message of God's merciful love. Apparently, believing Bob and Maureen hold special sway with the heavens, some people seek to touch them as if magic powder will rub off. And, of course, it doesn't.

They receive requests for special prayers as though they have "a special phone line to God."

"We don't," says Bob. "We are just ordinary people living out our faith in a world needing faith. But it's touching and humbling for us that people ask us to pray for them."

And they do pray for them. They keep an offering cup in their living room with all the names of people who request prayers before a large Image of The Divine Mercy an a relic of St. Faustina.

"People — even priests — think that because you received a healing that you are able to walk on water almost," Maureen says. "You're not. You're no different. I mean, you're different because you have God in your life, but I'm still Maureen. I still fall. I still need confession. I still need God's help and Faustina's help."

Who doesn't?

"Yes, life goes on," Bob says.

Yes, it does. Yet when the earth shakes, Bob and Maureen don't flinch. They've felt things far more powerful.

Editor's note: The Digans are making a DVD that will be released soon. To contact them,; fax 413-243-2828; or write to Bob and Maureen Digan, P.O. Box 537, Lee, MA 01238.

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Peggy Sue - Feb 4, 2019

Bob & Maureen, please pray for my niece Molly to conceive a child, she’s prayed and waited for 8 years, she will not do invetro fertilization because it’s not the catholic way, Jesus I trust in you

Susie - Aug 25, 2017

What a beautiful and inspiring story.

Diane - Jul 9, 2016

What a wonderful reminder that God is with us always & that though we may suffer awful things he never the less is at our side. I've recently returned to the Catholic Church at age 55. I too have severe health issues. I now go to bible study at my church & love it. The deacon is wonderful. Life is still hard but this feels right & has made me see the world thru different eyes. My beloved uncle died at 85 recently. He was a deacon & such a fine example of Christianity. He was tube fed for 10 yrs due to esophageal cancer but never complained. He clearly had God in him. Thank you for your devotion & story. You've accomplished much.

Chris - Nov 27, 2015

Blessed Saint Faustina

Erlinda - Apr 16, 2014

A very, very inspiring story! Bob's spirituality and faith can help convert even the hardened hearts. I've started my devotion to the Divine Mercy about two years ago only and reading and knowing the witnessing of Bob and Maureen has deepened my devotion even more. Thank you to God for sending people like you into our lives.

Tlee - Jan 15, 2014

Please pray for me I am grieving my fiancé who passed away nov 22nd 2013

cccathi - Jan 11, 2013

i like you have wondered why me i also have lymphadema, and im home bound i was health till i was in my late 50s, then it seemed like, in a matter of weeks my life change and yes i have days im bitter,i was so independent i fish every day and did what i wanted, now my husband does most every thing, he dosent complain, hes a good man. but after reading your story im ashamed of my self , youve gone thro so much and yet you have found hope , and you have given that hope me, , hope is a very big deal when its no longer in your life, to find it again makes you believe, your life is worth some thing i will contine to hope and belive, thank you for giving me gods blessing cathy

Paul - Jul 16, 2012

So inspiring. If ever I needed motivation, it's this story. I thank you. Tell the world of St Faustina. Praise God. Jesus I Trust in You.

Joseph. - Apr 11, 2011


Joseph. - Apr 11, 2011

Paiti, anyone who acquire,assimilate and appreciate trust in Jesus and His Divine Mercy will never say " Ignore modern medicine or you will be putting the Lord to the test". I am also the father of a disabled child. When my wife was pregnant with my third child, a sense of agony started haunting me. I felt something was going to happen to the child. No body cared about me. When I asked about a tablet her Gynacologist prescribed her, my wife rediculed me saying she knows better than me about medicines, a specialist nurse. The doctor done several ultra sound checks and each time confirmed the child was perfect. Finally when the child was born she was deaf with no ear lobs and other very serious disabilities. Later only it was revealed to me that the famous Gynacologist my wife was consulting was a victim of a serious car accident after that she was not of sound mind.
I totally abandoned my child to the mercy of God. I never ran after doctors and hospitals to correct the condition of the child. I watched in awesome wonder the Lord sending doctors in search of her. She underwent several operations. Now she is a beautiful young lady sharing her 14th birthday with that of Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and is in mainstream education in a famous Catholic High School. Anyone can say Jesus I trust in you but only some acquire that trust and only few appreciate that trust and only very few assimilate that trust. When his doctors performed Trachyatomy on Holy Father Pope John Paul II just days before the Divine Mercy Sunday in April, 2005 for the world and his doctors it was a mere surgical procedure to ease his breathing but for me he was a Sacrificial Lamb with a slit throat suffering in silence. Just hours before his death I have a very serious car accident which totally destroyed my car. It is because of the Divine Mercy I was alive to write this comment here. Bob please read my testimony on "Meet Father Joseph" column. Jezu Ufam Tobie. Saint Faustyna Pray for us. Sisters of our Lady of Mercy, Pray for us.

Glo - Apr 9, 2011

This is the first time I've heard Bob and Maureen's story. I've read all the comments and have been touched by many. Living with a disability is difficult and impossible to do so in love and mercy without God. Having a child with a disability has to be heartbreaking and I agree with the comment of making us more aware of Jesus. I have been involved with Divine Mercy when Father Anthony Gramlich told me about a retreat during confession. The spiritual, emotional and physical healings I've experienced since November 2007 have awed me and humbled me. Yes, Divine Mercy is for everyone, especially the poorest of the poorest. God's Blessings to all.

Bob - Apr 6, 2011

Many Thanks Paiti for that beautiful message - you are so correct. Regarding Joseph's message, this deserves an answer more fully and I will attempt to address this in a coming article in the near future. Let us keep all in prayer and open to the Holy Spirit the giver of Life, and direction. God's Merciful Blessings! Bob

Paití - Apr 6, 2011

J.M.J. A.M.D.G.
I believe the Divine Mercy Message is meant for all and it is not a message that says, "Ignore modern medicine or you will be putting the Lord to the test." The Lord's Mercy, whether it be in the form of a healing, or in calling a servant "Home" will always be in the Lord's Time and in the Lord's Way. Our humanness makes us cling to life and the lives of those we love but, it is important to remember that death is not an end but, a beginning. It is a new beginning of being immersed in the fullness of God and His Mercy.

Joseph. - Apr 5, 2011

The message says Bob and Maureen trusted the Lord and are aware the Lord has taken over the condition of Bobby. Then, why for heaven's sake you went for a "routine" operation in 1989. Why you put the Lord your God to the test without even giving Him time to finish up with His work on Bobby?

Blythe - Apr 5, 2011

This is such a beautiful witness. I cried while I read the story. As a young person with a disability and a husband who cares for me I was so touched by Bob. My husband is Jewish but like Bob is a rock for our family. He respects my Catholic faith and devotion to Divine Mercy and unknowingly lives Mercy each day.

Kerry - Apr 2, 2011

Wow, thank you for this beautiful message. Thank you for being normal people. :)

Bobby, pray for us!

Lois - Apr 1, 2011

I am shocked at the story of the father who yells at and berates the young son. Surely they both need our prayers. However, the State Department of Children and Families must be notified! This child has no voice. Someone who knows who and where he is must report this childs' suffering. Please, in the Holy Name of Jesus report this ABUSE. No child deserves this kind of abuse. The report can be made anonymously. I beg you..Whomever you are to make that phone call. Save this child! I am a nurse and by law this must be reported. I know that it is difficult to "interfere", but you have no choice. Do not stand by and allow this little one to suffer this abuse. Do the right thing. Help this child of God. My prayers are with you. You could be the miracle this child is praying for.

Shirley - Mar 30, 2011

Beautiful inspiring story.

Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC - Mar 29, 2011

Thanks for the - rest of the story! I have heard this story many times but I never grow tired of it because it is a beautiful testimony of God's saving love in our lives! Thank you!

Betsy - Mar 26, 2011

maureen, I remember you and your family so well from children's hospital in Boston back in 1965! i had seen information on your healing on tv several years ago and rejoiced to hear it. I am so glad to read more about Divine Mercy and Saint Faustina as a result of your efforts. bless you and your family.

Karen Prentice - Aug 20, 2010

My sister, Karen Prentice and I are going to Poland. She has MS and will be receiving a treatment for her condition. We are planning to visit Saint Faustina's grave. I have been praying for a complete healing for my little sister.We will be doing a Novena to Saint Faustina her procedure is September 1st. Could you add her name to your names in the cup and say a prayer for her.

rose - Feb 1, 2010

ps - wonderful, beautiful story about Bob, Maureen and their precious son. I am especially encouraged and heartened by Maureen's experience. I really need to hear the message that God's mercy is for all of us, even those of us who struggle with unbelief in God's merciful love for us. If Maureen, in her time of doubt, can receive such a miracle of healing, then maybe God's mercy is for all of us, especially those of us who are very little (in faith) and are not spiritual trojans...yet. Thank you, Maureen for showing us, so honestly, where you were spiritually at the time of your healing. Your story gives me hope - in God and in his goodness.

rose - Feb 1, 2010

Rita - I will pray for the boy and for his father. I disagree with "D" - prayers need to go out for all of us, as we all have suffering, struggles, pain and fear. The little boy you talk about, Rita, needs all our prayers for his little heart and soul, that healing comes into his life with his father. And I believe that the father is in most need of mercy - he is a single father and his angry outbursts sound like he is under lots of strain and is struggling as a dad in some ways. May God's mercy pour down into their hearts and souls and touch them both. Amen.

Ann Marie - Oct 17, 2009

Maureen is my mother's cousin. My mother is Ann Barrett McHale. I recall meeting Maureen when I was a child. She was always special... Her wedding shower was the first I ever attended. Wishing her the best. What a wonderful story about faith. Ann Marie

D - Mar 25, 2009

Please. Thats not good and all. But I believe prayers should go out to people who are ill and at risk of losing their lives!! not a kid who gets yelled at by his father. No offence.

Rita - Jul 4, 2008

The story is breath taking! There is a young boy who live in a house behind our. And he has constant belittling from his father and always has. His Mother left and left him with the dad. The boy becomes so frighten and angry with this father it is scary. Please pray for the boy and the father, but especially the boy.It's almost as if the father waits till some little thing happen. Like dropping a catch in baseball. And he berates the boy as if he does it on purpose. You asked what you can do pray for Chris! And I will to.

Mary - Jun 21, 2008

Bob, you say you are just an ordinary person living out your faith....may we ALL be so "ordinary"!! You opened your heart to Our Lord and kept it open, becoming, for the rest of us, an amazing example of faith. I thank God that you chose to listen. Let us all keep Beth (june 11) in our prayers. Parents of chidren with special needs have a very complex role to play in this world...helping the rest of us see Jesus. May God bless you, Beth,and send you His Spirit to give you strength.

Geoff - Jun 19, 2008

Please Lord help me to trust you more,and more each day, Thankyou for the Blessings you freely give

Sr.Paula Robillard - Jun 11, 2008

This is the first tme I knew the entire story of Honey and maureens touched me deeply ..but then again ..they have always touched me deeply...

beth - Jun 11, 2008

I came across the message of divine mercy a few years ago when my father gave me the story of Jolie and her son. I also have a son who struggles and I have been praying the chaplet for a time. Stories like yours are so incredibly powerful and needed around the world. I have to be honest I am still having a very difficult time watching my baby have it so hard.My heart continues to break for children and parents who face issues they feel are out of their control.I know that without my faith however weak it is I could not continue without it. Saying that I know it is ME whose faith is not as strong as it needs to be. Thank you for this story as I continue to walk on this journey. I will come back to it many times I am sure.

Amado - Jun 10, 2008

God is always Merciful to us.The message of Divine Mercy through St.Faustina is prophetic and St.Faustina is the messenger of God thats a given.

knick - Jun 10, 2008

Wonderfully inspiring story.

Oneill - Jun 9, 2008

The message is clear turn towards God.
Bob your faith is strong as a rock, thanks to be God. A good example to all to keep faith strong when dificulties come by.

MR - Jun 9, 2008