Our heroine, Rosemary Vuono, was featured in a story in my book, In the Arms of Angels.
“Angels are our special helpmates,” Rosemary Vuono said, “but so are saints.” St. Therese, a favorite among Catholics, is often nicknamed ‘The Little Flower’ because of her association with roses–she promised to send a shower of roses from heaven as a blessing, and a few days after she died, rose petals floated down from the ceiling of her convent chapel! Since then, people who ask her for help often receive a rose as a special signal of reassurance.”
In June 2000, Vuono was praying in The Adoration Chapel of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, in Westerly, RI. “As I was praying, a thought popped into my head (I believe from St. Therese herself) to pray for all the missionary priests under her patronage. So I did,” Vuono said. “Surprisingly, as I left the chapel, I stepped on something very small and hard–a single silver bead with a rose engraved on it. I smiled thinking, “Oh, St. Therese, you don’t have to thank me.”
The following weekend, Vuono went away on a religious retreat and continued to pray for the missionaries under St. Therese’s patronage. After she returned home, she saw an ad for St. Therese’s Rosebushes being offered by a monastery. What a fun coincidence! Vuono loves roses, so she ordered one for the back yard.
Instead of a rosebush, however, she received a letter from Sister Mary, a nun at the monastery. Vuono had somehow misread the ad; the rose bushes were actually gifts for those who sponsored a missionary priest. The sponsor cost was $1,500. Would Rosemary be interested?
“I laughed, and wrote back, explaining that I was a housewife and mom with no income of my own, and would not be able to sponsor a future priest, but that I would continue to pray for them,” Vuono explained. She thought that was the end of it–but St. Therese apparently had other ideas.
One of Vuono’s many hobbies is basket weaving. With the school year ending, she had thought about teaching children how to make baskets and had already ordered some supplies. But as she and her own kids searched for students, they discovered that everyone seemed already programmed for summer activities. Frustrated, Vuono sent up a prayer: “Please fill my classes this summer.” As an afterthought she added: “If you do, I’ll donate the money towards St. Therese’s Rosebush!” Within three days, Vuono began getting phone calls from mothers. Soon, she had a list of 14 students, more than ever before. But would they stay for the entire eight Saturday morning classes?
Vuono didn’t know, but the whole matter was in God’s hands now. Excitedly, she wrote to Sister Mary, telling the nun what had happened and advising that she might be able to send a donation for sponsoring a priest after all. Not the full amount, of course, but every little bit helps, especially for missionaries. Sister Mary assured Vuono that she could take as long as she needed to pay the sponsorship.
The kids all showed up for the first class, and Vuono was able to send a check for $200 to Sister Mary. By now the two were old friends, and Sister was amazed, even more so when the children continued to come, and each week Vuono continued to send the checks. By the time of the last class, Vuono had paid off her rosebush–and was the inspiration of the entire monastery.
“I am thrilled to see HOW the Lord has worked!” Sister Mary wrote, and Vuono responded with photographs of her students weaving and displaying their beautiful baskets.
“There must be a very special future missionary priest out there, that needed to be sponsored,” Vuono said, “and St. Therese brought him to us.”
She hopes someday they’ll meet, but if not, her rosebush will serve as a wonderful reminder.
Joan’s new book Where Angels Walk is the 25th Anniversary Edition, available now at Loyola Press.
Joan Wester Anderson has written many books on angels and miracles.
She can be reached at P.O. Box 127, Prospect Heights, IL 60070.