Printed with kind permission from Helen and Beville Outlaw
"I was doing post-graduate work in Tallahassee and one day saw some nuns in the library. I asked then if they would tell me something about the Catholic Church. They were only too happy to oblige and sent me to a real nice priest."
"When I went to see him, he was complaining that someone had just given him some fish that he didn't know how to cook. So, there I was in the kitchen of this priest whom I had just met, cooking this fish. Then we sat down and had dinner together."
"That took care of any awkwardness that I might have felt and I soon started taking instruction. At the end of the summer I became a Catholic. I was about 26 years old at the time."
Helen met and married Beville Outlaw, a Baptist, who, nevertheless always accompanied her to Mass. Their children were raised in the Catholic Faith. Many years later, Beville would also convert making them the only Catholics on either side of the family. Were they accepted?
"Oh, yes, they accepted us," said Helen, "but it was hard - the strain - and still is. There's quite a difference between Baptists and Catholics; there poles apart. You wouldn't believe some of the things Baptists believe about Catholics. I have to laugh at it now."
Then in May, 1974, fate struck a telling blow. Helen was suddenly afflicted with a painful eye disease. Every time she blinked, her eyelids would grate against her eyes causing cell deterioration. She went to four specialists. She was told that there was a good possibility that the eyes had been permanently damaged. An examination at the Watson Clinic in Lakeland, Florida verified this. All they could do was prescribe some drops that she had to put in her eyes every hour and a salve in the evening to keep the eyes from drying out overnight. Helen retired from the Florida school system burdened with her affliction and without much hope for things getting any better.
"We were going to Europe that summer and I asked Beville if we could make a side trip to Garabandal. I had read The Apparitions of Garabandal by F. Sanchez Ventura Y Pascual and I believed. I didn't tell Beville that there was only a donkey trail, but it worked out. We rented a car and drove up. The only people in the village at the time were some young girls. I had the book with me and pointed out pictures of the places I wanted to see: the calleja, the cuadro, and the pines. The children would look at the pictures and take us there.
"At the conclusion of there conferences, Joey would invite people up to venerate his medal from Garabandal. When I approached him I told him of my problem and he placed the medal on my eyes. I prayed to myself...
"By the time we returned to the hotel, me eyes no longer bothered me. However, that night I still applied the salve.
"While driving back to Florida the next day, we were playing the tape of Joey's conference, when I suddenly realized that I had gone for two hours without using my drops. It was the first time in two and a half years that I had been able to go more than an hour before my eyes would start to draw and become very painful. I would never use the drops again.
"When I arrived home, I went back to the doctor. After his examination, he said, 'Helen, what have you been doing with your eyes?' I felt strange about telling him what had happened. I guess many people feel that way instead of praising God. then the doctor told me that my eyes were like new - not one trace of scar tissue. I was elated and told him about the miracle and have been speaking about it ever since. Wherever I go, I speak about God. It has changed my entire family's lives. We have gone to Garabandal every year since - one year we went twice. We bought property in the village and have built a home. My husband, of course, believes in Garabandal and became a Catholic in 1978."
Helen decided that one program every two weeks was about as much as she could handle and produced her first one on the rosary. When she found out the date it was to go on, she lit up inside - October 7, Feast of the Holy Rosary!
But, as is true in all of God's authentic works, Helen has found the cross in her apostolic activity. "When I started on the TV program it was exciting to learn, but the mistakes, and the forces that I felt went against me...For this past year, I have lived in a constant state of agitation and of problems. I have come to realize that when you do something for the Blessed Mother, you're going to have to take what comes. It's been a year and a half now that they have been going on regularly."
Through it all, Helen has matured spiritually and now is able to say, "I haven't told this to anyone, but at the time [of my affliction] I didn't understand the value of pain. I was not that much into the Catholic Faith even though I was a Catholic. I didn't understand the Faith as I have been learning it recently. Now I think I know the value of pain and if the Lord wants me to have the pain again, this time I would accept it - at least I hope I would be able to."
that when Joey put the medal on her eyes she prayed, "Lord, if you want
to help me, I will never allow myself to look at anything impure and I
promise to use my eyes to read, to find out more about You." She has kept
her promise. "It turns your life around when you realize the Lord has been
so good to you."