Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Song

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Prayers Work!

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By Theresa Peloquin

His quiet speech was hardly recognizable as that of the singer whom fans had dubbed "The Man with the Voice of an Angel" — but then, Michael Bethea had only been recuperating for a few short weeks since his kidney transplant.

Despite occasional throat clearings and pauses to catch his breath, his voice still sounded animated as he talked about trust in the Lord.

That's something Michael knows a lot about.

A notable talent

Michael's singing voice kindled what is now a 30-year friendship with musician and long-time Marian Helper Trish Short. The first time Trish heard Michael sing, he was with a band performing for a telethon at a local television station in Florida. "After that, she would come out to the restaurant where we were playing," he said.

Apparently, Trish had a good ear for music. By the time they had met, Michael had attended Jackson State University on a full vocal scholarship. He would go on to record two albums while under contract to RCA Records and share the stage with Keith Urban, CeCe Winans, Bo Diddley, Jeff Carlisi (from the band 38 Special), and Greg Barnhill (singer-songwriter for Vince Gill and Amy Grant).

Over the years, Michael and Trish collaborated on and off with singer Crystal Yates. That relationship led Trish to ask them both to join her in recording "The Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Song," which she was producing.

Of course, they accepted.

"All three of us were from different denominations," Michael noted. "It's amazing how God uses anybody, no matter where they're from, to give Him glory."

"The Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Song" also brought Michael a level of celebrity status that surprised even him. Strangers would recognize him in public, and friends would call to confirm that they'd seen him on television. "Several years ago, when I was singing at a restaurant," Michael recalled, "this lady came up to me and told me she was from the country of Panama. She said, 'I see you on EWTN, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.' And it hit me! I already had been thinking about stopping doing secular music and just totally devote using my voice for Christ. When she said that, I thought, 'What kind of message am I sending to people if they see me in 'Divine Mercy in Song' on television, pouring my heart out, and then she comes in [to the restaurant] and sees me?' Not that I was singing anything that was bad or sexual or anything like that, but it's still like crossing over the fence."

An urgent plea

Last summer, Trish sent an email to dozens of her contacts. Her subject line cried out, "CRITICAL KIDNEY TRANSPLANT needed for MICHAEL BETHEA ... Please, please PRAY!"

Among Trish's email recipients was the Very Rev. Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, provincial superior of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy Province. He in turn alerted Fr. Chris Alar, MIC ("Father Joseph, MIC").

Because Michael is a beloved figure among the Marian Helpers, the next issue of Marian Helper magazine (Winter 2016-17) included the following request:

Please pray for Michael Bethea, the singer/song-writer best known for "The Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Song," which was filmed at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in 2002 and frequently airs on EWTN. Now, he needs our prayers. Michael, who was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure in 2011, needs a kidney transplant. "Michael's family and young children are desperate for him to live," said his chaplet co-singer, Trish Short. "They are praying to find a match for Michael within the next eight months' time."

Please lift Michael up in your prayers. Praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy seems most appropriate.

A similar announcement appeared on our Facebook pages (@MarianHelpers and @DivineMercyOfficial) on the evening of Sept. 19, 2016.

An outpouring of prayer

By the next morning, the Facebook post had reached almost 400,000 readers, and thousands had clicked on the links to the sung chaplet.

The post also received 15,000 reactions, comments, and shares. Here are a few of the readers' comments:

• It was because of the televising of the Chaplet and Pope Francis' message of mercy that I have returned to the Faith and the Catholic Church after a 40-year absence. God bless and heal Michael.

• All things are possible with God. My prayers for Michael, whose voice on the Chaplet CD led and inspired me to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet in such a beautiful way.

• We have loved his singing on this Chaplet video for many years. May our Lord bring healing to Michael and faith and strength to his beautiful family. All in our prayers …

• Lord Jesus, unfathomable Divine Mercy, we trust in Your mercy for Your beloved servant, Michael, for You to give him the kidney transplant and healing he so desperately needs! Saint Faustina, pray for him, please!

Early on Sept. 20, a grateful Trish Short sent a message to Fr. Kaz and Fr. Chris. "I called Michael this morning to take a look at your Facebook page to read the comments. [They] will greatly uplift him and give him hope for his critical stage transplant."

She noted that, in just the first 100 of the hundreds of comments, two people offered to donate a kidney if they were a match. Many offered prayers, and some donated to help cover medical costs.

Father Kaz replied that he was grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Michael. "We have complete confidence in the power of our Lord's love and mercy for him," he wrote.

Father Chris also sent Trish his prayers and encouragement. "As I travel often," said Fr. Chris, "it is amazing to still hear how many people continue to be touched by your Divine Mercy Chaplet recording on EWTN ... truly a great way to evangelize millions about God's tender love and mercy."

Answered prayers

On July 6, 2017, Trish emailed the Marians good news: A kidney donor had been found. Michael and his wife, Luann, would participate in the NFT Emory Paired Donor Exchange Program in Atlanta, Georgia. Their carefully orchestrated swap would involve 10 people in four states who were scheduled to give or receive a kidney.

This donor exchange program would allow Luann to donate her kidney to someone from South Carolina, and the donation chain would continue back to Michael.

On Aug. 23, Luann underwent surgery to donate a kidney. That same day, Michael had his transplant surgery. After eight years, Michael was officially off of dialysis.

"God has blessed me to receive a kidney," Michael said, "and He's blessing me with my wife. This couldn't have happened as soon as it did without her. She wanted to donate her kidney to me, but she wasn't a match. But she was still like, 'What can I do?'"

Despite a few post-surgery complications, Michael now says he's feeling much better. "I would like to tell everyone that I'm so grateful for all their support," he said. "I'm also glad that I was able to bring some people back to the Church. That's my goal. That's what I want to do full-time, and just allow God to use me — to use my voice."

On Sept. 19, 2017 — exactly one year after the original Facebook post requesting prayers for Michael — the Marians' social media pages included an update about the Betheas. The posts again asked for prayer and for financial support, since the couple would not be able to return to work for at least several weeks.

Again, readers responded with prayer and donations. At the same time, however, Luann received some disconcerting news.

About trust

A few days earlier, Luann had been praying about the job she'd had for eight years, and she asked God to carry her out of that situation. "You've got to be careful what you ask for!" quipped Michael. "Two days later, all of a sudden she got a call that they were getting ready to close their doors that weekend."

After all that Michael and Luann had been through, how did they react?

"Well, that's it," Michael said. "We trust in God with everything. We just both sat down and we prayed, because we know He has a better job for her, He has a bigger plan, He has a bigger plan for me also. It's all about us putting our trust in Him, not being weary. Have peace and have joy, even in our situation right now.

"You have to not try to take over," he continued. "Just do what it says in the Bible and allow God to take over your plans. We all have plans, and God gives us some vision. But what He doesn't do, He doesn't give direction on how to get to that. When we see our vision, we see a straight line there. But it's not always like that. I know that I would love to be able to just go all over the world and sing and bring people to Christ as I've been doing. But I don't know what His plan is. I don't want to try to take over."

As for the sheer numbers of those who have prayed or donated, "overwhelming" is what Michael calls it. "I do not take any of them for granted," he said. "I just pray and thank God for them. For everyone. I mean everyone."

Michael's appreciation was unmistakable. You could hear it in his voice.

Visit to purchase "The Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Song" on DVD or on CD. You also can hear this rendition of the Chaplet on weekends on EWTN.

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Kimberly - Aug 31, 2018

I'm still praying for Michael...but I keep forgetting his name! I don't know how that's possible, because I should remember "St. Michael the Archangel." Anyway, I've been praying for "the Divine Mercy Chaplet singer who needed the transplant." Today I had a chance to search for his name, and the search for "Apostles of Divine Mercy Chaplet song" brought me here. May God continue to use Michael and his family for His work. May he and his family continue to trust in our Lord.

Nell - Jan 26, 2018

I need healing for my back. It's so hard to do anything, because of the pain I'm also having some intestinal issues. Please pray for me. Thank you!