Washington D.C., Apr 16, 2023 / 04:00 am (CNA).
Forty-two years ago, a family of three from Massachusetts packed their bags and headed to Poland seeking a miracle. Bob and Maureen Digan, along with their 8-year-old son, Bobby, arrived at Sister Faustina Kowlaska’s tomb at the Shrine of Divine Mercy near Krakow on March 23, 1981.
Maureen had been in a wheelchair since she was a teenager, after a diagnosis of Milroy’s lymphedema and the subsequent amputation of her leg. Their son Bobby was born with a seizure disorder and multiple disabilities.
The Digans brought along their friend Father Seraphim Michalenko, who was at the time the vice postulator for Faustina’s cause. He was there to witness the miracle Bob was convinced would take place. (Michalenko, one of the world’s leading experts on divine mercy and St. Faustina, died in 2021 at the age of 90.)
Bob’s certainty in a miracle was a grace born of hardship.
As the National Catholic Register reported last year in a story about the Digans, the devoted husband and father had gone in search of answers after years of suffering, which included losing their first child in the womb. After seeing a film called “Divine Mercy: No Escape,” about the life of St. Faustina, Bob became “convinced of the healing powers through her intercession and that the couple should visit her tomb in Poland.”
Maureen was a reluctant pilgrim. She had abandoned the practice of the Catholic faith years before, believing that God didn’t love her. She told TheDivineMercy.org that she went “for the sake of their marriage,” but one night at the shrine while praying the chaplet as a group, she inwardly heard St. Faustina say, “If you ask for my help, I will give it to you.” Maureen said that she responded: “Okay, Faustina, you dragged me to this country so far from home, if you are going to do something, do it now!”
And St. Faustina did. Maureen was completely healed, though she wouldn’t totally admit to it right away. Bobby experienced a partial healing. His seizures stopped, allowing him to live a much more active life until his death at the age of 18.
There was no medical explanation for Maureen’s healing and it was accepted by the Sacred Congregation for the Cause of Saints in 1991 as the miracle needed for Faustina’s beatification, which took place on April 18, 1993. (Her canonization was on April 30, 2000.)
While the miracle happened to Maureen, Bob’s unceasing faith and trust in God’s mercy paved the way.
He told CNA that while it seems long ago now and much has happened since then, their faith “has deepened in humility and gratitude with greater confidence in God’s unfathomable mercy and how blessed we are.”
When asked how he kept his faith during the most difficult days, through the grief after losing Bobby, and during the years when Maureen’s faith was weak, Bob says what got him through was “prayer, sacraments, commitment, and above all, love — for there is no true love unless there is some sacrifice, but the greatest sorrow is not to love.”
Bobby’s early death was a deep sorrow for Bob and Maureen, but they came to believe that he is the one who received the ultimate healing.
“Bobby’s vocation in life was finished,” Maureen told TheDivineMercy.org. “It was time for him to go home. This is a witness for others that the greatest healing comes in going to the promised land.”
Bob told CNA that his son’s life taught them “what life is truly all about — truth, mercy, understanding, simplicity, acceptance, patience, and above all, love — especially love of God and one another.”
St. Faustina and her revelations about God’s divine mercy have remained central to the Digans’ lives throughout the years.
“If we only knew who God truly is, we would die of joy,” Bob said. “For those who want mercy, God’s mercy is always available; it’s all a matter of trust. Pray, asking God to reveal his goodness.”
Bob and Maureen continue to speak about their lives and their faith, insisting they are ordinary people who just want their story to help others.
“People, after learning of our family situation, are amazed at how normal and natural we are and this gives them hope,” Bob shared with CNA. “God has a plan for each of us and we are dependent upon our loving and merciful Father to provide for us. Trust in his love and have hope.”
Although now retired, Bob is a Catholic deacon and still exercises his ministry. He and Maureen have traveled and spoken across the U.S. as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. They made a movie about the miracle of mercy they experienced called “In the Name of Miracles,” which is available on DVD in the EWTN bookstore, as well as at the Marian Helpers.
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