During the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown in the summer of 2020, two Green Bay women decided to fill their free time by soliciting stories about miracles. Mary Lynn Hall and Mary Jo Fritz, members of St. Bernard Parish, contacted The Compass to ask for assistance in getting their project off the ground. Their best option, they were told, was to submit a letter to the editor.
On June 19, 2020, their letter appeared in The Compass. It read, in part:
“While we are staying at home, and many of us (are) living with more stress than usual, we decided to create something that would keep us busy and hopefully reach out to others with comfort and some cheer,” they wrote. Their creation would be the publication of a book “which would tell stories of miracles that people have experienced in their lives.”
With a few stories of miraculous events already in their possession, the women hoped to round up enough new stories to complete their project. “Currently we are in search of even more events that people in the diocese are willing to share and we are wondering if we could reach out to them through The Compass,” they wrote.
Later that year, the book “Thanks for the Miracle!” was published. Fritz forwarded a copy to The Compass, along with a thank-you note.
“Mary Lynn Hall and I are grateful to you for putting our appeal into The Compass newspaper. We were searching for those who have had ‘miracle’ experiences and were willing to share their stories with us,” she wrote. “We have compiled those and others from friends and family (and) would like you to have a copy.”
Some of the miracle stories retold date back to the mid-1900s and involve the Blessed Mother’s intercession.
After taking cover in a yellow barn from the Nazis during World War II, Joe Gagnon Jr. wrote: “It was at this point that I felt a firm handgrip on my shoulder. As I turned to see who it was, there stood a beautiful lady, in a bright light, dressed in blue with a white scarf over her hair and shoulders. She said, ‘Come here.’ I left my spot at the fire and started towards her. Just then a mortar shell burst the wall where I was standing. I never saw the woman again.”
Gagnon said he had prayed daily to the Blessed Mother for a safe return home. “I had promised to say the rosary every day of my life if she would do this for me — and she did.”
Another story, titled “Mark’s Miracles,” recalled a 16-year-old Mark helping his father demolish a cement barn on their small farm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
“The lower portion of the barn was an old, failing structure, with solid 12-inch-thick concrete walls that were about 8 feet tall,” he wrote.
“I was removing 8-foot-long steel pipes that were angled against the wall when I realized that the wall was starting to move toward me as I pulled away,” he wrote. “I immediately turned and ran through debris to escape the wall as it fell inward. The top scraped my left hip as it hit the ground.”
While shaken, he had only a minor scrape and went inside to clean up. “When I returned, I noticed that my mom and dad were sitting on the edge of a now horizontal concrete wall looking down at their feet,” he continued. “As I got closer, I could see that they were looking at something on the ground and soon learned that it was an old rosary which apparently had been sitting on top of the wall and landed near where I was standing. It was so old the string had disintegrated; yet the beads and crucifix were arranged in their usual places. … I felt this was a sign that Mary was interceding and that I can always count on her for help, which I do to this day.”
Numerous other stories of miracles are retold in the self-published book “Thanks for the Miracle!” by Fritz and Hall, which is available on Amazon.com.