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A Life of Love in Action

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The following was first published in the Winter 2018-19 issue of Marian Helper magazine. View the digital edition or order a free copy:

What would you do if a complete stranger greeted you, not with a smile and cheery "Hello," but a smile and "I love you"? Would you be put off, or would you respond in kind?

This is how Jean Pagel greeted everyone: friends, family, strangers on an elevator, people on the street. "Her core was love," said her husband, Dr. Paul Pagel. Like-minded souls would respond with love in return. "I love you" was the last thing she said to Paul before she died. This past Sept. 7 would have been their 50th wedding anniversary.

Jean Lukazewski Pagel was of Polish heritage, as were St. John Paul II and the Founder of the Marian Fathers, St. Stanislaus Papczynski. This connection first drew the Pagels to the Marian Fathers 25 years ago. The relationship with the Marians further deepened as the Pagels discovered the Marians' devotion to Our Blessed Mother and the Congregation's role in spreading the Divine Mercy message and devotion around the world.

Paul and Joan began to regularly pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. They read St. Faustina's Diary. They saw a Divine Mercy Image in a bookstore and promptly bought one, and then another, and another. Soon they were giving these images to people living in nursing homes. A trip to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, deepened their devotion and zeal to evangelize.

The couple dedicated themselves to doing deeds of mercy — not just giving financially to those in need, but also putting their love of Our Blessed Mother and Divine Mercy into action, every day. Including the Marian Fathers in their wills became an easy decision.

As you can tell, Jean and Paul not only had a strong devotion to their faith, but to each other, as well. Jean was a native New Yorker. Education played an important role in her life. She became an assistant professor and taught nursing for 40 years, specializing in child health. Paul earned a doctorate in social welfare and taught for 20 years. "We complimented each other," he said. "We'd team teach — teaching together and even alternating in each other's classes."

Their faith was tested mightily when Jean became ill with dementia in 2003, the year she retired. Over the next 16 years, Paul watched helplessly as his cherished wife slipped away. Paul will never forget her last day on earth. They prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, as they had done together so many times before, and it was a great consolation for both of them. "It was just the two of us and the Holy Spirit. What better memory can I have?"

Another trip to the National Shrine provided Paul with a unique opportunity to create a different kind of memory — a lasting memory on Eden Hill for Jean. After careful consideration and prayer, Paul chose a stained-glass window in the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine to memorialize Jean. Using funds from her Individual Retirement Account (IRA) that he had inherited, Paul's beautiful tribute to Jean proved to be a wise
tax decision.

Spreading Divine Mercy and living a life of love in action are not only healing for Paul, but perhaps the sweetest tribute to his dearly beloved Jean.

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