Surviving a heart attack
This following story comes from the USA. The priest mentioned in this story was born in Australia and grew up there. He was educated at a school run by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the order founded by Blessed Mary MacKillop) in Adelaide, South Australia.
Here is Father’s story. On Saturday the January 29th, 2005 I woke up feeling really out of sorts. I confess that I hadn’t felt this bad since the morning after my 21st birthday party in 1965! Puzzled, I showered, and then noticed that both shoulders were aching badly; I had been treated a few years earlier for Bursitis in one shoulder, but this was like a double dose! I fed my dogs and then made a cup of tea. (Things are always better after a cuppa!) and sat on the sofa, looking out the front door, but the aching got worse, and it became hard to breathe. For the life of me, I couldn’t think what was wrong. (At that time my only knowledge of coronary symptoms was numbness in the left arm and jaw.) I was wondering what to do, and what on earth was wrong. I suddenly saw a movement out the corner of my eye, in the small hallway to my right. I automatically turned to see what it was. In the hallway were standing Father David my assistant, and a Josephite nun, being an old Saint Joseph’s Russell Street boy, I immediately recognised “Mother Mary of the Cross” as we called her, the foundress of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, in Adelaide in 1866. Father David, had died of Pancreatic Cancer in 2002! Yet, there they both stood; quite real, no lights, clouds, or music. And oddly, I felt too ill to be impressed or surprised at the time!
I blurted out to Father David (who was 64 at the time of death, but who now looked late twenties in cassock and surplice, but easily recognisable); “is this the big one?” – a private joke of ours from the TV show “Sanford & Son”. He just smiled and shook his head – he never actually spoke. I got the impression that he had somehow wrangled a “ride” on this expedition, and Blessed Mary had agreed, as I’d pay more attention if he was seen(?). Mary, however, spoke; she was dressed in her usual habit; plus traveling mantle; (I still find Religious, disguised in lay clothes these days to be somehow dishonest, as if they’re ashamed to be identified.) She seemed also to be in her late twenties, quite alive, and solid, like Father David. Her welcoming smile changed to an expression of concern, and she said with a slight Scottish accent; “Quickly now, go and take two aspirin, and start coughing! You are having a heart attack, you must get help!” They then looked at each other, with a smile of satisfaction (I guess at completing their task?) Then they seemed to step back – and weren’t there!
So I got up, took the aspirin, and began coughing; it actually eased the chest discomfort. Then, I drove myself to the medical Center. I had Angioplasty two days later (after the entire nursing staff all peeked in to see the “idiot priest who drove himself here with a heart attack”.) During the Angioplasty, Blessed Mary Mackillop and Father David appeared again, and helped me when a problem developed. The Cardiologist later informed me that the coughing most likely saved my life, as they were experimenting, and it appeared coughing kept the heart and lungs steady. Sure enough, ten months later, the AMA publicly announced on TV that aspirin combined with coughing was the way to go-until medical help arrived, yet, Blessed Mary of the Cross, came from heaven and gave me that information ten months earlier! So to (soon to be) Saint Mary of the Cross I owe my life! As soon as I recovered I erected a shrine to her in our Chapel, and we celebrate her feast each year on the first Sunday in August.
The story above is one of several stories that have recently been added to my book: Help from Heaven (Answers to Prayer), that will be added to the second print edition of the book. The online version of the book is at: