In 1987 my family was in a spiritual shambles. My marriage was broken. My children and I had been away from our Catholic faith for 8 ½ years. I was just beginning to return to the faith but my children still had a long way to go. There was no one to pray for them but me. Then, on the morning of November 25, 1987 I was in a severe car accident. I was rushed to the hospital where, in addition to internal injuries, they found I had five broken ribs, a damaged vertebra and a broken left shoulder. Had I died that morning in the accident I had no hope of even purgatory. Instead, I was to spend four days in the intensive care unit and many more days in hospital.
I had been introduced to Our Lady of Medjugorje in June-July 1987. I was very sceptical at first. I didn't believe that Our Lady could be appearing every day for six years (at that time) to those six children. I really was not interested. But when I was in hospital, my sister, who had just returned from Medjugorje, visited me and brought a book on the apparitions. She told me of her experiences.
After I had been in intensive care at the hospital for four days, my children still had not thought to call a priest. But when I was brought to my room, a very dear friend called and asked if I would like to have a priest come. I agreed. That's when I was finally able to go to confession and reconcile myself to God.
I had now been to confession and I asked my oldest daughter if she would ask her father to come in to see me. We were divorced and he had remarried. I felt the need to ask his forgiveness and to forgive. He agreed to come and see me. When I was taken to the operating room I was left for just 5 minutes outside in the hall. I then felt such peace come over me. I said to Our Lord, "If you want me now, I'm ready to be with you. But should I also have a physical healing in addition to the spiritual, then I would go to Medjugorje in thanksgiving." (I did go two years later. Our Lady invited me there in 1989. I could not imagine the impact that Our Lady and Our Lord would have on me while there.)
It was not until about a week later, when I was rubbing under my left eye, that I felt something projecting from my cheekbone, like a bone poking out. A surgeon was called in from the trauma unit of Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. X-rays showed that my face had also been badly damaged. All the bones in the left side of my face: my cheekbone and the bones around my left eye were shattered. As a result, my left eyeball was starting to drop and, if an operation was not done immediately, that eye would keep dropping and I'd end up with double vision. The shattered bones had to be replaced with a metal plate. The doctors performed this delicate operation by making an incision along the left eyebrow and then inserting the metal plate through the upper part of my mouth.
From that time on I had absolutely no feeling in the left side of my face. The border between feeling and numbness was like a pencil line down the centre of my face, down my nose and upper lip, and then nothing at all below the upper lip. It was the numbness and heavy-lipped feeling that one gets when the dentist gives you local anaesthetic. Often, while eating, I would unknowingly bite my lip and one of my children would notice it bleeding. At other times someone would notice something on my mouth but I would not be aware of it being there. I simply had no feeling on the left side of my face or in the upper part of my mouth. The feeling did gradually return to my cheek area but the upper lip was always totally numb and with no feeling. It felt totally frozen.
Over the years, I had been prayed over several times for this to heal because it was even difficult for me to speak with this feeling of heaviness in my lip. Prior to the accident I used to do a lot of singing at weddings. But now I could no longer trust myself to do so. I often imagined that I was not pronouncing things correctly or that there was saliva oozing from the corners of my mouth. My two daughters asked me to sing at their weddings but I felt unable to do so because of this problem. I constantly felt the need to clear my throat and wipe my lips. This was, to say the least, quite annoying.
On the evening of the June 18, 1996, I attended our regular committee meeting at the home of Dr. Michael and Helen Rozeluk, in preparation for the first "Embrace the Eucharist" Mission, when Joey Lomangino and Garabandal visionary Jacinta Gonzales-Moynihan were to come to Toronto. After the meeting, everyone prayed over me and then the medal carrying the "kiss" of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Garabandal was placed on my upper lip. I was also anointed with holy oil.
I felt a warm sensation as everyone prayed over me but nothing else happened that evening. The following day I dropped in on the Rozeluks again with a friend to pick up some literature from them. They prayed over me again with their medal. This time I fell limply into their arms and remained this way for quite some time while they continued praying.
On the third day, June 20, 1996, as I was brushing my teeth in the morning, I realized that I was feeling something on my lip. I did not pay too much attention to it at the time, because I was in a hurry. I went, as usual, to Holy Mass and while there I began to realize that I had no difficulty with the responses or with longer prayers, such as the Our Father. The heaviness in my lip was not there!
After the Holy Mass, while driving home, I licked my lips and I realized that I could feel my tongue on my upper lip! I kept repeatedly biting my upper lip and saying, "but now I am feeling it!" This is when I became fully aware that feeling had been restored in my upper lip for the first time in eight and a half years! Since that day, June 20th 1996, I have complete feeling in my upper lip again. It was just so wonderful to be able to talk without this heaviness in my lip or feeling that saliva was collecting in the corners of my mouth. I have been free of it ever since. Now, in January, 1999 it has been two and a half years.
Everyone present at the meeting had prayed over me that night of June 18, 1996. June 18th has a special significance in Garabandal history for this was the date of the first apparition of St. Michael and the beginning of the Garabandal apparitions. June 18th was also the date of the miracle of the Eucharist in Garabandal. But it wasn't until June 20 that I became aware of the miracle of my own healing. Our tendency is to say nothing at first because we keep thinking, "It will come back, it will come back." But I thank Our Blessed Mother for interceding with Her beloved Son, the Divine Healer, to grant me the blessing of a healing. I give thanks every day for that blessing as well as all the other blessings they have bestowed on my family and me. There are still crosses but our prayers are being answered through the grace of God.
I really have so much to be thankful for. When God sends people into my life, He seems to call the very special ones. I truly thank Our Lady for bringing Helen and Michael into my life. It was through the gift of their miraculous medal of Our Lady of Garabandal that Our Lord and His Blessed Mother healed me. The prayer seemed so powerful that night. And God heard them. And Our Blessed Lady was there. I touch my cheek everyday, I bite my upper lip and check it and I say, "Thank you Lord. Thank you, Blessed Mother. Thank you for allowing us not just to hear about miracles, but to see them and experience them as well."
January 30, 1999
In thanksgiving, Joyce now volunteers her time at the Ave Maria Centre, Toronto and is a member of "The Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel-Canada".