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Photo: Courtesy of Mary Ellen Mulligan

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Bob and Michael with the statue of St. Joseph at the Holy Family Shrine on Eden Hill.

Photo: Mary Ellen Mulligan

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The Mulligans during their trip to the hills of western Massachusetts.

Ah, the old fall foliage trick. Works all the time.

It goes something like this: You want to visit the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, but you're with people who aren't into all that "church stuff." So you lure them by the promise of that resplendent decay of chlorophyll-challenged leaves: fall foliage in the hills of New England. Guarded but curious, they come along with you, and then before you know it, miracles happen.

Mary Ellen Mulligan had it all planned out, everything except for "the miracles." She never expected those, though she'd been praying for them for years.

She, her husband, Bob, and son, Michael, visited the Shrine in Stockbridge, Mass., on Monday, Sept. 22. They had attended a wedding in Pennsylvania two days prior, and Mary Ellen convinced the two to travel to Stockbridge before heading home to Florida.

Once they arrived at the Shrine, everything seemed to go according to plan. The foliage held up its end of the bargain. Bob and Michael enjoyed walking the grounds of the Shrine. Bob even brought a book with him, hoping to find a peaceful corner somewhere on the grounds where he would read while his wife went into the Shrine for the recitation of the Rosary, Holy Mass, and praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy.

But before she headed into the Shrine, the three visited the Holy Family Shrine, located near the main Shrine. It's a favorite spot for pilgrims to prayerfully seek the guidance and protection of the Holy Family or simply thank God for the gift of family. Much to her surprise, when Mary Ellen told Bob and Michael she wanted to light candles for them, they both suggested they light the candles instead. This was peculiar. Lighting candles wasn't the sort of thing they did.

At best, both were lukewarm in their faith. Bob hadn't been to confession in more than 40 years, despite his wife's protestations. And her son Michael only attended Mass sporadically after many troublesome years in which he had abandoned his Catholic faith all together.

When it was time to go into the Shrine, Mary Ellen was in for another surprise. Instead of staying behind, both Bob and Michael decided to go in. That's when the surprise of all surprises occurred. As Mary Ellen puts it, "two miracles happened."

One involved her husband of 34 years. The other involved her 33-year-old son.

"I have been praying for both of them for many years," Mary Ellen explains. "I have been praying for their conversions. I prayed many, many Rosaries, offered many, many Masses, prayed many, many chaplets, and offered much penance for this intention. Before the trip, while in Adoration at my parish of St. Paul, I entrusted their souls to Our Lady and invoked the Divine Mercy of our Lord." She also prayed to the Marians' Founder, Blessed Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary Papczynski (1631-1701), a powerful intercessor.

As the three entered the Shrine, people were lining up for confession as others knelt in Eucharistic Adoration.

"I went to the front and knelt at the altar and bowed down in adoration and joy at being there," says Mary Ellen. "I also asked our Lord and [the Blessed Mother] to remember all my prayers. When I turned to go back to the pew where my husband was waiting, I noticed my son was in line for confession!

"I asked my husband if he wanted to go also, and he said yes. After he left to get in line, I couldn't get up. I was so happy, so moved, I broke down and cried in thanksgiving.

"You don't know how many conversations I have had with my husband through the years about the importance of confession," Mary Ellen continued. "I cannot put into words the elation running through me. How truly great and merciful is our God!"

Not only that, the two men stayed in the Shrine for two-and-a-half hours — reciting the Rosary, celebrating Holy Mass, and praying the chaplet.

"This is a record for them!" Mary Ellen says.

Mary Ellen is happy to report two month later that she has noticed many positive changes in both Bob and Michael. They are calmer, more pleasant, and more loving, she says.

"Bob pays more attention at Mass now and even discusses the gospel and sermon with me now," she says.

"I asked both of them what made them go to confession, and both said the same thing: When they entered the church, it was so beautiful and they could feel the presence of God and just felt moved to go."

She knows what moved them: the Holy Spirit. Following confession, Michael even went to the front pew "to draw closer to Christ," said Mary Ellen.

Mary Ellen, who learned about Divine Mercy two years ago through pro-life work she does in Florida, says she still has a lot of praying left to do: prayers of thanksgiving, prayers that her loved ones continue to feel the love and presence of the Merciful Lord, and prayers for the Marians and their ministry here at the Shrine and throughout the world.

"I think God was leading us to the Shrine," she says. "What the Marians are doing, spreading the message of Divine Mercy, it's working."

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Monica - May 23, 2017

Thank you for sharing the wonderful miracles.Jesus is so wonderful. let us continue to trust in his mercy always.

Mary Elizabeth Ann - Apr 28, 2014

Hi, I am so happy to hear such beautiful testimony. I have participated for years, and would write down my intentions after a few years they would accumulate. Then I looked back from years past and discovered the answered prayers. I had prayed for someone on my list 10 years ago, and they had a beautiful conversion currently. Now, he is a leader in the church, helping the youth, teaching RCIA.
I do have a question however, I missed a day and forgot. does the novena not apply, it does sadden me.

myrth - Apr 21, 2009

what a beautiful encouraging story, I keep praying for one of my sons and his fam, wife and 2 sons to come back to the Church and the Sacraments, as well as another son and his wife and 3 kids,with divorce looming in the future, that God in his infinite mercy
will bring them back to Him. Jesus I trust in You

anthony b - Apr 15, 2009

Dearest Friends,
I ask you to join me in asking our Savior for Miracles. In these times when people are moving away from our beloved Mother Church, maybe miracles sent by our Lord will open these individuals eyes and bring them back to our beautiful Church and closer to our Lord and his Blessed Mother Mary Let us pray to oue Blessed Mother to help us and whisper our requests into the ear of her loving son

CM - Apr 14, 2009

Dear Lord,
Please help all those wishing to free themselves from addictions (esp for 2 men who are presently contemplating giving up cigarettes).That they may soon experience the benefits of a life without smoke.

CM - Apr 14, 2009

Dad, always said Pray, pray and ask God to send you a suitable life partner. I did and a beautiful man was introduced to me. He was praying too to meet a nice girl. We are blessed and are delighted to be together keeping God at center of our relationship. Please God our relationship will continue to deepen and grow. that we will get over some work distance obstacles easily. I pray that other's will experience the joy and peace of Christ in their lives.

:Mom needs prayers - Apr 7, 2009

Please pray for God to send my 29 year old son, Alex, a spiritually and physically beautiful young Catholic woman who loves God and will love him. According to him he has not met the right one yet (his two previous relationships did not share his faith).

Romola Sri Lanka - Apr 6, 2009

Thank you for sharing your story .I read it just as I was on the brink of despair, I am ashamed that I don't pray enough for my sons' faith to grow. Although we have many unsolved problems I must remember to pray for their salvation. I am a single Mum my sons are all grown up.thank you once again

A - Apr 2, 2009

Thank you for this most inspiring story. In the past I have been like the husband and son in this story and now am like the wife. I now pray for my son & daughter, that they grow deeper in their faith and look to Jesus. Thank you.

protected by my lord - Mar 24, 2009

Christopher, I will pray for all your wishes to come true. You see, these were my wishes also and they came true. I would pray for the same things you did but at the end of my prayer always say. However Lord i know i am no better than anybody else, so do for me what you feel is best and never allow me to loose my faith and never hand me a cross i cannot carry

protected by my lord - Mar 24, 2009

countless miracles have happened in my life. Yet, at times I forget these past miracles and become dispondant when more trials and tribulations need to be faced. It is always one problem after another in my life. However, the greatest miracle is that no matter how many times I loose faith and no matter how many times I get mad at him, Our Lord always comes around when I least expect it, takes me by the hand proves to me how much he loves me. He doesnt hold grudges. He knows we are human and he knows our weaknesses. How lucky we are to have him

Mary - Feb 16, 2009

I have experienced God's mercy countless times! He is wonderful beyond any expectation and beyond words! He brought me back to Him by showing me He cares. Then He brought me back to the Catholic Church (and all the blessings that brings!). After many many years of praying for my parents, He was with them both at the hour of their deaths! God's mercy is so true! He can be trusted.

I now need prayers, please for physical healing and direction - that His will would be done. Thank you so much and may God bless you all with peace and joy.

Allentria Harvey - Feb 6, 2009

Thank you so much for praying the chaplet of the divine mercy and sharing your devotion to it to other and the graces that the Lord Jesus Christ our king in has granted to you in his divie mercy

Christopher Tully - Jan 19, 2009

Please pray:
That God will guide and direct my life on earth.
For a relationship with a woman to occur that will bring me happiness and bring me the opportunity to build a normal American life.
For my financial situation to improve dramatically and on a grand level and me to have financial happiness and well-being.
For God, Jesus, and all of heaven to watch over and bless me.

Thank you,
Christopher Tully

Marie Rose - Jan 14, 2009

Nice to hear from you! I would like to require prayers for all Rwandan who left the Catholic Church. May God bless you for sharing you experience.

Kathy - Jan 13, 2009

I am in the prolife movement in Delaware and have been praying for my husband and family for some time. It is good to hear your encourageing story. I so want to visit the shrine, I just need a wedding to go to! God Bless.

Carmen - Dec 2, 2008

I thank our Holy God that they were with you and have begun their conversion. This is what I pray for each day as I go to early morning mass. I will keep praying for my husband and son. I ask My Jesus to help me wait until HE moves, that has always been my problem. May God continue to bless you and your family!

scholarstica muturi - Nov 30, 2008

mary Ellrns prayers are very encouraging .please pray for my husband who is protestant but we solemnized our wedding in a catholic church. he does not only refuse to go to church or pray he has moved in with another woman i trust only God can change such e heart through prayer thanks

amy - nov. 28/08 - Nov 29, 2008

Very inspiring Mary ellen
Prayer is my partner in life and I even persevere to pray more for my family and friends for the conversion of their hearts.

PAUL YEMBE - CAMEROON - Nov 17, 2008

As Mrs. Mary Ellen acknowledges:'She knows what moved them: the Holy Spirit.'
I always just tell people particularly parents who complain of this and that about their children.
Just pray and do not over-work or bother yourself.
When the time comes; they will be offering sacrifices so much that you'd even want to stop some of these.
For instance, you'd give a child money; the same who is always demanding money, and he/she would refuse. They will walk to church, fast, offer their little pocket money in alms and Spiritual & Corporal Works of MERCY.
Only the HOLY SPIRIT can do this!
I am glad for Mrs. Mary Ellen's family and moreso that this miracle was published. I am glad for their Conversion - ONLY this is really Important!!THE MIRACLE of SALVING POWER & HEALING!!

Jim - Nov 16, 2008

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story, God bless.

Bonnie - Nov 16, 2008

Thanks for sharing this story. It is very encouraging!

B.Mary Agnes - Nov 14, 2008

I have been praying for a conversion of my husband's heart and for our marriage for the past 2 years, and had a disappointing setback this past week. This article has given me encouragement to persevere and know that all things are possible through God.

vm - Nov 14, 2008

Mary Ellen, thanks for your inspirational article. I have been praying for my children also who are not very good church goers and one has unbabtised children. It has given me courage to continue praying as it is only a matter of time, our need are answered, what about the so many prayer requests that the Almighty has to attend to. May the Mercy of out Lord give us strength to persevere in these trying times. Thank you once again.

marys - Nov 13, 2008

I love this sharing by Mary Ellen,God is so good,I was moved because I am also praying for my husband Benson Sr.I always put this in my heart the word of Our Lord Jesus,"The Things which are impossible with men are possible with God."Amen

avc - Nov 13, 2008

we all have family members who are away from the church, reading this beautiful story shows how important it is to persevere in prayer, and to continue to trust in god's love & mercy. the rosary is indeed a very powerful prayer for converting lukewarm hearts. thank you mary ellen - may the divine mercy continue to bless you and your family, and may mama mary continue to bring your husband and son closer to jesus.