Father Donald Calloway, MIC, skillfully shares his personal insights on topics including Divine Mercy, the Eucharist, the Church, Confession, prayer, the cross, masculinity, and fe... Read more
Photo: Chris Sparks
By Chris Sparks (Jul 24, 2013)
Tens of thousands of pilgrims visit the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., each year. This is the latest in a series in which we ask Shrine visitors what brings them here:
"I wanted to tell her story," explained Claudia Rodriguez, holding her 18-week-old baby, Alessandra Maria Rojas Rodriguez. Her husband, Oscar Rojas, stood by her side. "I think it would be good to document it," she said. "I'm not sure, but some people have told me that it seems more than coincidental."
The family, from Florida, was visiting the Shrine earlier this month to give thanks to St. Faustina for her intercession regarding the conception and birth of Alessandra. It just so happens the family was in the vicinity anyway, visiting universities in Boston with their daughter, Andreina Rojas, and dropping their son, Oscar Rojas, Jr., off to camp.
"My aunt told me about" the Shrine, said Claudia. "After I gave birth to Alessandra, we were talking about everything that had happened, and she said, 'Oh, you definitely have to see the Shrine.' I didn't even know there was a national shrine here."
She only found out, indirectly, through the littlest member of their family. Here's their story:
"My husband and I had been trying to have a baby for some time," said Claudia. But nothing was happening, so in June 2012, she decided to see a doctor. The gynecologist was glad she'd come.
"From what she saw, there was no way I could get pregnant without an intervention," Claudia explained. "She said, 'Nothing major, don't worry, we'll send you to a fertilization specialist.'"
Then, before she could see the new doctor, Claudia had a business trip to Krakow, Poland. At the start of the trip, she and Oscar did some sightseeing over the weekend before she had to work. Just before they headed into the famous Wieliczka Salt Mine, they got a call from Oscar's sister.
"They talk all the time," said Claudia, "and when she calls in the week, sometimes we're busy and we don't talk until later. We took the call, and after, we were so glad. She didn't know we were in Krakow."
Oscar's sister was excited to learn of their whereabouts. A Divine Mercy devotee, she urged them to visit the convent where St. Faustina received many of her revelations in the 1930s. The convent includes the Divine Mercy Sanctuary.
By the time they were done with the salt mines, it was already late in the afternoon. They decided to take a chance. "So we got out of the salt mines and barely made it before the Shrine closed." Once inside, they both prayed and wrote long requests asking St. Faustina for her intercession to bring about the birth of a baby.
After they returned home to Florida, they went to the specialist. "He did the exam the gynecologist had done," Claudia said. "He said that he couldn't see anything that the other doctor had seen. I looked perfectly fine, I looked very healthy, and I could get pregnant any time. We didn't know I was already pregnant."
Alessandra was born on April 7, 2013 — Divine Mercy Sunday. Not only that, she was born in Mercy Hospital in Miami.
"I only wanted to go to Mercy Hospital because it was close to our house and my grandfather had had a successful lung surgery there. Everybody said it was a good hospital," said Claudia. Oscar added, "At one point, we were going to go to another hospital because the insurance was not working" at Mercy. But they decided to go to Mercy Hospital anyway.
"And when we got to the hospital, the doctor said, 'Oh, you haven't dilated. We'll probably send you back home. You'll probably be back in two days,'" remembered Claudia. "Then two hours later, he came back to check on me and said, 'No, you're having the baby today.' Everything was happening at once."
The delivery was fast, easy, and beautiful.
"I only pushed three times, and she came out," said Claudia. "It almost felt like ... it accelerated so fast as if meant to happen the day of the Divine Mercy."
She said, "We didn't know the day of the Divine Mercy. We found out through another sister who didn't know that we had gone to Krakow to the shrine to pray for a baby!"
"I don't know," Claudia said, smiling and pausing. "Maybe it's all a coincidence, but ..."