Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, Catholic Exchange <i>, and <i>Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Before sharing a tiny fraction of stories from those who received a rose — even many roses — from St. Thérèse in answer to their prayers for her help, please realize that the Register had more than a shower — a steady downpour — of beautiful, often very moving, and always exceptionally inspiring stories in response to our request to our readers.
Ah, if St. Thérèse would only find a way to share all of them with you, but this time we’ll have to look at a sampling and hope everyone will understand and realize their stories would be here too if only for want of space. Even websites are limited as is the space of newspapers. If that weren’t so, every person’s story could be presented in its every detail. Please consider this the greatest of thanks to every single one of you who responded and so beautifully shared your stories. The goes to every one for every story.
To get in a greater number of your stories, we will have more than one part of this series. Stay turned.
Your stories should, and will, touch the hearts of anyone who hears or reads them, and inspire them to go and do likewise in devotion to the Little Flower. Speaking of flowers, here are a tiny portion — didn’t Thérèse have something to say about the littlest? — of them.
When Theresa Ann Beitz was only 3 days old, she was diagnosed with a major heart defect and admitted to Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dad Dave and Mom Jennifer Beitz named her, their fifth child, in honor of both St. Thérèse and Mother Teresa, whom they admired. The proud parents also learned at their new daughter’s birth she had Down syndrome.
“One of our best friends gave her a St. Thérèse statue which we placed in her crib at the hospital,” Jennifer said. They also prayed a novena to St. Thérèse for their daughter’s health. At 23 days old, Theresa Ann had her first heart surgery.
“Life doesn’t come with guarantees, especially when you have a child with a heart condition,” Jennifer explained. During his daily visits and prayers with the family, a priest at the hospital shared how he had received red roses from a friend when praying to St. Thérèse when discerning his call to the priesthood.
Always strong practicing Catholics, the day their daughter was released from the hospital, she went to Mass at their parish. Mass was going to be held in the original church building that was to be torn down.
When Jennifer entered, “there were white roses all over the altar,” she said. “I felt such a sense of peace that our daughter was going to be all right and that St. Thérèse was giving us a sign in answer to our prayers.”
The Little Flower surely was. Theresa Ann is now 18, has had two more heart surgeries. She is very healthy, attends dance class, and participates in her school plays, Miracle League baseball and Special Olympics swimming. She will graduate from high school in 2020.
Jennifer considers their daughter “to be one of the biggest blessings God has given us.”
Many miles to the east in Bel Air, Maryland, in 2018 Michael and Laura Seibert were praying for St. Thérèse to help them discern whether it was God's will to be open to more children. The Seiberts had five kids and a full minivan.
“We prayed the St. Thérèse novena asking specifically for white roses if God wanted us to be open to more children,” they explained. After finishing the novena, Mike went to his weekly midnight holy hour and shortly after arriving, “he glanced past the monstrance at the statue of Mary and saw two white roses at her feet. He took a picture with his phone and sent it to Laura.” She noted that it was 5 minutes after midnight — on the feast of St. Thérèse.
“Still feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of another child, Laura went to First Friday devotions at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption. Kneeling, she saw, and was reassured by, a bouquet of white roses, again at Mary's feet. “And the white roses kept coming,” Michael said.
A year later, Peter Thomas Martin Seibert — Martin after St Thérèse's family — “is a joyful addition to our family,” he said, adding, “and the new, larger van has enough seats to take neighbors to Mass.”
What’s Your Vocation?
When Kelly Whelan in college until well into her twenties she frequently “feared” that God wanted her to be a nun. “This may sound silly to many,” she said, “but to a girl whose lifelong desire was to be a wife and mother, this came as a real cross and a hindrance to trusting God with my whole heart.”
Years passed without meeting a husband. The thought often crossed her mind that perhaps she was ignoring her true vocation. She then “decided that I would pray a novena to St. Thérèse, my beloved confirmation saint,” she said.
The first day Kelly prayed the novena, at early morning Mass a man she knew came across the aisle to hand her an envelope with a card. On the back was a sticker with St. Thérèse’s quote, I will let fall from heaven a shower of roses.
“I was stunned,” Kelly explained. “I hadn’t even begun the novena and the saint was already sending me reassurances!” She opened the card to discover this friend had enrolled her in a novena of Masses. Roses in profusion were scattered across the card.
The day after she finished the novena she got word she could pick up a book on St. Thérèse she had ordered at the library.
“Suddenly I felt like I needed to once again pray about my vocation,” Kelly explained. “I began to pray ‘Dear God…’ when I felt the urge to pray to St. Thérèse herself. I began praying to her, asking that it be very clear to me that religious life was NOT my vocation. No sooner had I finished the prayer than I happened to look through my back window and noticed a rosebush that had been there since before I moved in several years before, but that rarely produced roses. I noticed something that looked pink and decided to check it out. I ran to the back yard to discover not one but two pink rosebuds. This was significant as I had hardly ever noticed any roses on the bush, and it was November, past the usual season for blooms. I felt certain that St. Thérèse was showing me that my vocation was marriage – two roses, one for me and one for my future husband. From that time on I felt peace.”
In a few years she met “a wonderful man, Chris.” There was still another novena to go on Chris’s part, unbeknown to Kelly, as he also prayed for St. Thérèse’s guidance. It turned out that on the last day of his novena — which Kelley knew nothing about at the time — some students came when she was alone in the class and unexpectedly gave her a single red rose.
Later that day Chris texted. They decided to meet next day (they were living a five hours’ drive from each other). Kelly realized she “should definitely move forward with this relationship.” She added, “It wasn’t until at least a few weeks later that I found out that he’d prayed for me and that St. Thérèse had given me a rose in answer to that prayer. We are now happily married with a beautiful daughter, Anna Thérèse. May God be glorified in His saints!”
Many people turn to St. Thérèse to help them find the vocation God intends for them.
Father Taylor Leffler of the Archdiocese of Omaha told about the time he was at St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Studying in Rome a semester, he took a trip with other seminarians to France with a day in Lisieux.
In the backyard of St. Thérèse's childhood home, he spotted many red roses budding even though it was January. He felt he had to pick some — one for himself and others to bring back to the friends in the United States who loved this saint.
He picked five and stuffed them inside his breviary. Back in the U.S. next month, all the buds were still red. One he planned to give to his friend Jacob, another seminarian. When he handed him the rose explaining where it came from, Jacob began to cry.
Next morning his friend explained that he had begun feeling that the Lord may be calling him out of seminary to pursue the married life. “This particular discernment was confusing, and caused him some distress,” Father Leffler said. “Because of his love of St. Thérèse, he prayed a novena to her. He was very specific: If God wanted him to be a priest, he wanted a real white rose — not a picture of one, not a fake flower, but he wanted someone to give him a real white rose. And if God wanted him to pursue the married life, he wanted a real red rose. On the ninth day of his novena, I knocked on his door and handed him a real red rose from St. Thérèse's backyard. He's now married with three beautiful children, one of whom is in heaven!”
There’s no limit to the way St. Thérèse showers roses in answer to prayers.
In Spring of 2012 as Andrew Gaffney was discerning the priesthood, his desire for priesthood grew more and more. “It became evident that the Lord might actually be calling me to this, but I wanted to do something else,” he said. He wanted to go to college and become a nurse.
That summer he began a novena to St. Thérèse asking her what he should do — give him one rose if he was to go to college or two roses if to seminary. “I knew that one rose would be miraculous enough,” he said, “but two roses would be a for-sure sign as that would be more difficult.”
Five days into Novena, while helping his family clean out his late great uncle’s house, he “stumbled upon a third class relic of St. Thérèse.” When he was leaving, his mother handed him an old Bible that had belonged to his great-grandmother.
“It had not been used or touched for many years as she had found it in an old box in the back of the closet,” Andrew said. Back home, he “noticed that there were two bumps in the Bible…I opened up the Bible, and inside were two very old pressed long stem roses. I took this as a sign that I needed to go to seminary.”
Fast-forward seven years. Andrew is in Second Theology, two years from ordination to the priesthood. “Oct. 1 is always an incredible day for me,” he said. “St. Thérèse is a spiritual sister of mine that I know is always up there, interceding on my behalf.”
For Families, Health and Many Other Requests
St. Thérèse is with us as an intercessor in so many different situations.
Stress was the word at one time for the Hadro family. Michael and Elizabeth just had their third child in three years. She was a stay-at-home mom. Her husband was commuting up to three hours a day in the Northern Virginia area to a very stressful job, with up to 70-hour work weeks and too-little pay.
“We hardly saw each other at all, and we were drowning in debt,” she said. “With each passing day, we felt a call to give it all up, quit his job, and move across the country back to Colorado to where my extended family is located.”
They packed their minivan, gave away everything else they owned, and Elizabeth headed to Colorado with the three children to live at her parent’s house while Michael continued his job for a final two weeks.
Ten days before St. Thérèse’s feast day, Elizabeth began her novena, begging the Little Flower’s intercession. “How will we ever find a home, a job and a way to provide for our family, Lord?” she asked. “Were we crazy to do this with three children? St. Thérèse. please intercede for us!”
On the final day of the novena, she received the answer “in a big way,” she said. Still in Virginia, Michael had no idea his wife had been praying the novena, waiting patiently for a sign that everything would turn out okay.
On the morning of St. Thérèse’s feast day, a delivery man showed up and “before my mom even opened the door, I knew it was for me, and that it was St. Thérèse assuring me that all would be well,” Elizabeth said. “I had an overwhelming sense of peace as the delivery man handed me a dozen red roses, sent from my husband, which he had ordered on a random day the week before, ‘because he knew how stressed I had been,’ only to be delivered to me without his knowledge that I had been praying all along to Thérèse for her sign.”
Elizabeth explained that in the five years they had been married, Michael many times brought her flowers, but never had them delivered, “and in our dire financial situation I would never even think he would consider sending flowers.”
The following week Michael got to Colorado and within that week had two job offers with great hours, great pay and vacation time to spend as a family. Add a St. Thérèse bonus: Elizabeth said, “We also own our beautiful home that we had applied to rent after two other renters had ‘suddenly removed their offer and deposits’ after we had applied.”
Just another proof that St. Thérèse can give more than one answer at the same time.