Photo: CBS 3
Despite an horrific auto accident, Michael Galat (above) and his wife Linda will go forward with plans to dedicate their lives to helping the poorest of the poor in Mexico.
The image of The Divine Mercy remains one of the few things undamaged among the Galats' belongings.
At first, it just seemed like another sad news story on CBS 3, the television station out of Springfield, Mass. A Chevrolet Suburban towing a camper overturned on the Massachusetts Turnpike on Tuesday, June 3. A married couple was injured — the wife, seriously.
But as the news report was broadcast, the camera cut several times to a pile of wreckage, and amidst the wreckage was a prayercard with the unmistakable image of Jesus, The Divine Mercy.
Curiously, the camera kept lingering back to the image.
Jesus told St. Faustina in one of a series of revelations, "I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish" (Diary of St. Faustina, 48).
And indeed, Michael Galat, 55, the driver of the Suburban, says today that the fact he and his wife survived the crash is a miracle. "If you look at the truck, there is no reason we should have lived through this," Michael said in an interview with thedivinemercy.org. "God kept us alive. We had a mission that wasn't complete."
That mission involves helping to build an orphanage, with a chapel, a school, and a medical clinic, outside of Juarez, Mexico, with the Christian missionary group, Harvest Hands Ministries. Michael and his wife Linda had gone on a mission last summer to help with the project. By the time their brief trip was over, they were convinced they should return to Massachusetts, quit their jobs, sell their house, and return to Mexico to dedicate their lives to the orphanage project.
"We both felt very moved by the work," said Michael. "We came back home and spoke with our pastor. He felt we were called to be in Mexico helping these people. So we sold the house, gave a lot of things away, had tag sales, helped one of our sons get set up with an apartment, and we were ready to go. "
They both left their jobs as well. Michael was working in wood flooring sales and installations. Linda was working as a nurse.
Early this month, Michael and Linda packed their 25-foot-long camper with their few remaining belongings, including bibles and blankets for the children of Juarez. They had just pulled out of town en route to New Mexico. No sooner had they entered the turnpike heading west when their world was turned upside down — literally.
"A tractor trailer passed very close," recalled Michael, "and the downdraft must have caused the tires to blow on the camper, and the camper and our truck blew over. We ended up leaning on the roof of our truck. We were both pinned in. The emergency workers used the Jaws of Life to open the car up. I was taken to Baystate Hospital, treated and released. My wife was flown by helicopter to UMass Medical in Worcester.
"She had a multiple compound fracture of her collar bone," continued Michael, "and she broke several ribs. She had a partially collapsed lung, and she lost the tip of one of her fingers on her right side. She took a real hit on this one."
The driver of the tractor trailer was not injured.
Linda has undergone several surgeries. Michael says that when she woke up from the first surgery, her first words were, "We're going to Mexico."
"Her spirit and my spirit have not wavered at all about that," he said. "We've just had a delay, and as soon as she's healthy and safe to travel, we'll go. We're setting it up so she can do rehab down in New Mexico."
Foremost on the Galats' minds is their missionary work. Michael says the orphanage will house 50 children — 25 boys and 25 girls.
"These are the poorest of the poor," he said. "We study Scripture, and we've given our lives over to doing the Lord's work and caring for those in greatest need. We've put our whole lives into it. The accident hasn't changed our opinions or desires or our calling one bit."
Marion C. Haynes, who helped make quilts for the trip, told CBS that the Galats are "very, very special people. They're one in a million." Marion contacted a local bank and set up a fund in the Galats' name. Donations can be sent to Country Bank for Savings, 75 Main Street, Ware, MA 01082 with checks made out to the Linda and Michael Galat fund.
"They lost their trailer, and everything in it," Haynes said. "They have to start from scratch."
The Galats plan to head down to New Mexico by late summer.
"We'll fly down," said Michael.
At the request of her spiritual director, St. Faustina asked the Lord about the meaning of the rays in the image. She heard these words in reply:
The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him (299). By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works (Diary, 742).
The image of The Divine Mercy represents the graces of Divine Mercy poured out upon the world, especially through Baptism and the Eucharist. The Galats know all about the Lord's graces. They know all about their obligations as Christians. Amidst the wreckage, the twisted metal and postponed plans, they've placed their trust in Him — surrendered their souls to Him — allowing Him to steer them according to His divine wishes.
And for them, all roads seem to point ever more boldly west — to a work of mercy.