Monday, February 20, 2006
7 News Features: Miracles from Mary
By any description it is a remarkable story. One of the poorest parishes in South Florida given a priceless icon, some people would consider that a miracle, but the parishioners say when they started praying to the icon the real miracles started happening. What kind of miracles? Here is Patrick Fraser in Pahokee Florida tonight with Miracles From Mary.
WSVN--It is a small town sitting on the edge of Lake Okeechobee.
A poor town, surrounded by farmlands and sugar cane fields.
A town filled with migrant workers struggling from day to day.
But Pahokee is also a town with a small church that contains a priceless Icon.
Father John Maricantante: "It's got many many jewels around it. It's got south sea pearls and emeralds and diamonds and rubies...and all sorts of things."
The icon was created by a monk in the 16th century and was owned by the last czar of Russia.
Father John Maricantante: "In the name of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost, Amen."
Decades later, the icon was sold to a Palm Beach jeweler who heard about this parish priest working so hard to help the people of Pahokee. She decided the icon would be happier among the poor and gave it to father john to care for.
Father John Maricantante: "So that's a long journey from Prussia or Russia to Pahokee."
The icon has a rich history but the truly remarkable things started happening after it was placed on the wall at St. Mary's.
And people started praying to the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.
Ivania Larios: "They told me it was lupus...and others told me it was leporsy."
Ivania's son was covered with horrible red spots. Doctors could not determine what was happening to him. Then she prayed to the iconm, and his spots disappeared.
Ivania Larios: "It was absolutely a miracle that the Virgin Mary gave to me."
Miracles started popping up all over Pahokee. Women at St. Mary's who could not get pregnant were giving birth.
Anna Moncada: "Her crying...I would ask him to pray for her health."
Anna's heart was broken. Devastated by her mothers death she says she then prayed to the Virgin Mary for comfort.
Anna Moncada: "She says her mother came to her in a dream and told her everything was ok. She was alright -- to be happy."
The list of what parishioners call miracles go on and on, and we could go on for hours.
Patrick Fraser: "Coincidences? A cynic would say certainly, and maybe they're right, except that cynic has never met Father John and heard his endless tales of miracles."
Father John Maricantante: "So it's I mean how many co-incidences can you have so its just beyond...its just beyond me..."
Some of what Father John calls the miracles are small daily occurences.
Father John Maricantante: "One day a man came to me and he didnt have any sheets and blankets... I prayed to the Icon and a priest showed up...with sheets and blankets."
But most of the time they are like Father Johns dreams for what he calls his people...Large.
Like the day he realized they needed a youth center.
Father John Maricantante: "So I prayed to Our Blessed Mother and a man came up and gave me 40,000 dollars worth of stock."
Incredibly, he was able to buy the house next door for thirty-nine thousand dollars.
Then he saw how his poor congregation couldn't afford medical care. He prayed to the Icon for a clinic. And money poured in.
Father John Maricantante: "So she brought me Mrs. Halliman who brought me 60,000 who brought me Mrs. Chrisisman who brought me 60,000. So anyway, for 300,000 dollars we built a 400 sq foot, 4,000 square foot building. Unheard of and all because I am praying to the Blessed Mother and this Icon."
Again we could go on and on with more miracles. But parishioners who have been here for years say. There is another miracle happening her every day. That miracle is the man they call Father John.
Royal York: "Well he is. Father John is more like a little boy than a man. He is so full of wonder. Just the fact that he can stay untouched by the callous world as it is the pure of heart. And Father is pure of heart."
So trusting, Father John gave each parishioner a key to the church containing the priceless icon.
Father John Maricantante: "I give them a key because they have ownership to this place...I am working for them and the Lord."
He is trusting and humble and when I suggested maybe the buildings are not miracles from the Blessed Virgin. But hard work from the parish priest. He disagreed.
Father John Maricantante: "There is no way I could take credit for something like that...I mean why everytime we had a project did someone just appear and do it."
And now Father John is praying for another miracle: his small congregation has grown so much they can't fit into their little church.
Father John Maricantante: "So now we are praying for a new church."
Which will cost a million dollars. And in Pahokee, that truly would take a miracle..
Father John Maricantante: "So I said if the Blessed Mother wants us to have it...we will have it."
Maybe another miracle at St. Mary, where miracles started when a trusting caring priest, and his people, were entrusted with a beautiful priceless icon.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
If you would like to donate to help Fr. John build his new church or pray to the Icon for your own miracle just call 561-924-7305.