My name is Mary Dierking.( PICTURE: Helen Rozeluk with Mary Dierking in Rome 1999) I live in Ponca, Nebraska. I was raised on a farm. I still tend to a fairly large garden and the twenty-four apple trees on my acreage. In 1962, two days after my wedding, I injured my back in a car accident. From then on I have had to endure unbelievable back problems. For the first five years I had to wear a full-back brace and for those five years I endured a constant pounding pain in my lower back. It felt as though I was being pounded with a sledgehammer. Since then I have also become very accident-prone. Over the years I have suffered separated rotor cuffs in both shoulders, surgery to repair one of them, broken ribs, broken toes, torn ligaments in both knees and ankles (on two separate occasions) and other injuries I can no longer remember. Three times I was in a wheelchair for several months. The resulting back pain often had me lying on the floor. It was only after several series of chiropractic treatments that things begin to barely stabilize. Then I would stumble or fall again and my back and neck would be thrown out of balance once more. So I would have to start the treatments all over again from the beginning.
These numerous back injuries have resulted in arthritis in my neck and back. No matter where I went or how warm it was outside, if there was any breeze anywhere, I had to wear a headscarf around my neck. In the summertime, when the temperature reaches 80 degrees F. (25 degrees Celsius), one would think that arthritis would not bother you, but even at 80 degrees, the slightest breeze would cause me terrible pain. I would have to wear a headscarf around my neck and a sweater in any air-conditioned room. One hot summer day I had to come indoors from my garden because the light breeze caused unbearable pain.
The first severe injury to my ankle and knee was around 1974. This left me in a wheelchair for two months. Later I tore the knee and ankle on the other leg, resulting in a cast all the way to the hip. Also, a cow stepped and pivoted on my left foot . This caused a huge, excruciatingly painful blood clot to form. The pressure was so severe that the top of my foot became infected from lack of circulation and the flesh rotted to the bone. This was the worst injury I have ever had: it was a living nightmare. Finally, after four months in a wheelchair and three months on crutches, my foot managed to heal. Even so, it became very sensitive to the slightest pressure. Even a barefoot baby could not step on my foot without causing severe pain.
One day three years ago I stopped at a gas station. At the entrance to the building lay a sheet of plywood. As I stepped on it, it gave way and I fell into the unmarked hole left by a construction crew. Luckily for me, I only broke three toes, but that was the bad foot that the cow had damaged. I was back in a wheelchair for six weeks, living the same nightmare over again. Then, two years ago, I fell ... again... and broke some ribs.
Torn ligaments in my right foot required a triple orthodesis (sic.), surgery to repair the ankle that was slipping out of its socket. The surgery did help for a while, but now things are breaking down again. My excess weight is not helping. The ankle is shifting, which causes bunions and callouses on my feet. Because of all my injuries, the only footwear that will give my ankles the necessary support are men's high-top work boots. All these injuries to my back and feet have also made even walking very painful and difficult.
In early 1999, my friend Peggy McGinty (see ...the Rest of the Story) invited me to join the Workers of Our Lady - Canada in their pilgrimage to Rome and Garabandal. The group was to participate in Padre Pio's beatification ceremony on May 2nd at St. Peter's. I jumped at the chance to go but I decided that the only way I could possibly go was if God would help me and be my feet so that I could walk in Rome. I did not ask for a healing of my feet or my ankles. I only asked for that.
Peggy and I flew to Toronto the day before departure. We were to stay overnight with the Rozeluks. The three-hour flight to Toronto was unbearably painful. My back was pounding terribly. Helen Rozeluk met us at the airport and drove us to their home. The half-hour car ride was excruciating. I could barely stand the pain in my back. By the time we arrived at the Rozeluks' home, I could barely walk. The pounding pain in my back was terrible.
Helen and Michael Rozeluk were very concerned about me. I could barely make it up the stairs of their home. How could I possibly be able to walk about hilly Rome or the steep inclines of Garabandal? Helen and Michael decided to pray for me then and there with their medals that have Our Lady's kiss on them. I knew that that first praying had helped a lot, because when I climbed those stairs again to go to my bedroom, I could hardly believe how wonderful my normally very stiff and painful knees were feeling.
The next day we were on our way. From Toronto we flew to Montreal, where we changed to our overseas flight to Madrid, then to Rome. The wait in Montreal was fairly long, so our group gathered in one spot and prayed the chaplet of Divine Mercy. During the prayer, Dr. Michael sat beside me, took out his medal touched to Our Lady's kiss in Garabandal, and placed it on my back. The medal felt quite warm on my back. "What kind of heater do you have on that thing?" I asked.
The flight across the ocean was not just pain-free, oh, it was awesome! My back felt wonderful! In Rome the whole group prayed over me again later in the evening when we gathered for our Rosary. As they prayed, I suddenly fell to the floor. I must have been down for quite a long time. Later on, as we were preparing for bed, I wanted to go down the hall for a shower. Peggy said, "Why don't you take off your boots? I'm sure God took care of your ankles as well." So I unlaced the construction boots and carefully stepped on to the floor… and walked down the hall to the shower…and back…on my own bare feet!
Throughout our whole pilgrimage, not only was I able to keep up with the rest of the group on the walking tours, I had no trouble at all running through the traffic in Rome, climbing up and down the many stairs and hills, even climbing up the mountain in Garabandal. Now, at the end of August 2000, my neck and back feel wonderful. The breeze no longer bothers me. I no longer need a headscarf around my neck. Air conditioners or fans can be blowing on it and I am ok. My shoulders no longer ache. I can now do my gardening totally pain-free. The garden is very important to me because what extra God gives me in my garden, I like to share with the hungry in the local food kitchen.
Since this healing, I have not needed to see my chiropractor even once and I have fallen several times since that pilgrimage. Only my ankles and feet still give me trouble, but then, I did not ask for them to be healed. I only asked that God be my feet during the pilgrimage. And He was! I have thanked God many, many times for the healing I have received. Praise and glory be to Him forever!