STILES — When Pope Francis comes to the United States next week to attend the World Meeting of Families, countless thousands of people will be there to greet him. Among that crowd will be a delegation from the Green Bay Diocese led by Bishop David Ricken. One of the pilgrims will be Kathy Schroeder, who is the pastoral care coordinator for Holy Trinity Parish in Oconto, St. Anthony Parish in Oconto Falls, and St. Patrick Parish in Stiles.
While in Philadelphia, the pilgrims are scheduled to meet with Gianna Emanuela Molla, the daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla. “We’re going to have a private meeting with the saint’s daughter, we’re looking forward to that,” noted Kathy.
This encounter will be particularly meaningful to Schroeder since a parish member from St. Patrick, Susie Truckey, has a story she wants passed along to Gianna about how prayers for her mother’s intercession were heard and answered.
The story involves Susie’s 22-month-old granddaughter, Marysue Truckey, who was diagnosed with liver cancer on Oct. 27, 2014, at the age of 11 months. Last January, she was put on a liver transplant list. Kathy explained the connection to St. Gianna.
“Her granddaughter was critically ill and Susie was so distraught about the situation, I didn’t know what really to say,” said Kathy. “She said the surgeon did not want to operate even if a liver did become available because Susie had a fever. That’s when I asked, ‘Do you know anything about St. Gianna?’ She said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Look her up, she was a surgeon. Pray that the surgeons will be given wisdom for this child.’ She said she would.”
Less than two weeks later, Schroeder ran into Truckey before Mass and got the good news that a liver had become available for Marysue and the surgeons were able to successfully operate. “I shared her joy and asked if she prayed to St. Gianna and she said, ‘You told me to!’”
Susie is a true believer in the intercession of saints and an active prayer warrior. She had been praying for her granddaughter since before she was born on Nov. 18, 2013. “I prayed to St. Anthony that she would be ours,” said Susie. Marysue was coming into their family through adoption.
Prayers from Susie are also directed to God, Jesus, the Blessed Mother, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Peregrine, who is the patron saint of cancer patients. “When I found out Marysue had cancer, I started praying to him for her. Then I added St. Anne because she’s a grandma and then my husband, David, who passed away in February of 2014.”
This past January, Susie felt she needed a different saint to pray to, so it was perfect timing when she ran into Kathy. “It was shortly after I started praying (for St. Gianna’s intercession) that Marysue got her liver. St. Gianna is the saint for Marysue and St. Therese is the saint of my boys.”
Marysue’s parents, David and Yvonne Truckey, appreciated all the prayers that were going out for their daughter. “We have people all over the world praying for her,” said Yvonne.
The couple has been married eight years. Yvonne was a widow with a grown daughter and now has two grandchildren. She wanted more children and David always wanted to have kids, so they signed up through Catholic Charities to adopt a child. It took three years before they were chosen by a birth mother to be adoptive parents.
They had no idea that their daughter had any health issues until she was 9 months old. Marysue underwent four rounds of chemotherapy and was on the transplant list for three weeks before a liver became available. Her transplant surgery was Jan. 13. She has had two rounds of chemotherapy since that time. Half her life has been spent in the hospital, but she finally got to come home for good during the last week of August.
It’s been a difficult year, noted Marysue’s mother. “We spent so many nights crying,” said Yvonne. “Then we had a conversation one night and left it in God’s hands. I didn’t think God would have taken Marysue from us after it took so long to get her.” Yet, even if they had known from the start about their daughter’s health condition, David and Yvonne still would have adopted her and they are open to adopting another special needs child in the future.
Like his mother Susie, David has a strong prayer life. “I asked Pope Paul VI to intercede, I was praying to all kinds of saints, including Padre Pio,” he said. “My faith really helped me through this because I had such a foundation. During tough times that’s what carries you through.”
If everything works out, Gianna Emanuela, who was only 7 days old when St. Gianna passed away, will get to hear this narrative. She attended her mother’s canonization, but never had the chance to get to know the future saint.
“We’re hoping that we can share this story when we’re meeting with (Gianna Emanuela) so that (she) knows the joy” St. Gianna has helped bring to the Truckey family, said Schroeder. “I’m sure her thoughts are every day, ‘I wish I knew my mother.’ This is a way to show that her mother is still interceding for us in a way that, on this earth, we can’t even imagine. To know she’s alive in heaven with God and her work is not done, this should raise hope for people and show that everyone should pray.”