When modern medicine fails, couples eager to start families are coming back to a tradition passed down through the ages: the powerful intercession of St. Gerard Majella.
Richard and Sarah believe that nothing is impossible with God, but after 10 years of marriage they were desperate for a child. Like many couples, they explored a number of advanced treatments and sophisticated medical procedures that practically ensured success. Although Sarah conceived two years ago, complications resulted in an emotionally devastating miscarriage, and seemed only to confirm the couple’s worst fear: God’s plan for them did not include a child.
Discouraged and disheartened, Richard and Sarah continued to pray for guidance. They knew about St. Gerard from their Vietnamese heritage. Just imagine Richard’s surprise when he showed up on a job to replace carpeting and met Fr. Chuong Cao, pastor of St. Gerard Church in Baton Rouge, who led him straight to the Redemptorist rectory chapel. Richard immediately recognized Our Mother of Perpetual Help, and St. Gerard with St. Alphonsus and St. Clement venerating the Eucharist, in the beautiful painting behind the altar.
The very next day, he and Sarah took time off from work and met Fr. Chuong in the church parking lot after morning Mass. He invited them to join him in the privacy of the Redemptorist chapel, where he blessed them and they all knelt before the altar to pray for St. Gerard’s intercession. “We have to have faith,” Fr. Chuong told them. “Now we leave it all up to God.”
Within a month, Sarah conceived. She cried tears of joy that her heartfelt prayers were answered. She and Richard continued to return to the Redemptorist chapel to pray, but complications returned during her sixth month of pregnancy. She was hospitalized for treatment, but credits St. Gerard with stabilizing her condition.
Sarah and Richard prayed continuously for the next three months, and were overjoyed to welcome Ricky, their healthy eight-pound, four-ounce boy, on July 30. Fr. Chuong was honored to serve as godfather, and christened him Gerard.
Since she learned that she was pregnant, Sarah has been sharing the news of St. Gerard’s intercession with everyone, especially her friends hoping to start families. She is quick to encourage those with faith – even her Buddhist friends, who believe in the power of grace – to rely on St. Gerard. Fr. Chuong already has agreed to pray with one Buddhist couple. “They believe that if St. Gerard interceded for Sarah and Richard, he will intercede for them. We will pray together and leave everything up to God,” he said.
St. Gerard Parish hosted the Jubilee Missionary Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on October 9-23, 2016 and Fr. Chuong invited his parishioners to welcome the icon into their homes for family prayer. Richard and Sarah were hesitant to accept the offer because they haven’t completely finished renovating their home from the damage caused by the historic rainstorm that lingered over Baton Rouge in August. “Mary comes to the imperfect to make it perfect,” Fr. Chuong insisted, and brought the miraculous image to their home. Fr. Chuong held three-month-old Ricky, who babbled as if he was praying along with everyone else, and even venerated the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. “We are so blessed and so very grateful for Ricky, our precious gift from God,” Sarah said, “With God, all things are possible.”
Fr. Chuong marked St. Gerard’s feast day, October 16th, by blessing hundreds of loaves of bread and distributing them to parishioners. A childless couple in Houston heard about the icon’s visit and the feast day celebration, and drove all the way to Baton Rouge to pray for the intercession of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and St. Gerard. Fr. Chuong joined them to pray for their miracle baby before the icon, then gave them a loaf of bread and told them the same thing he tells every couple: “Now we leave it up to God.”