Touched by an angel
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Sisters Betty Ann Flyte and Rose Reese love to talk about their encounter with angels and the miracle of Betty Ann's healing in Medjugorje.
Do you believe you can be touched by an angel?
Two sisters in Jim Thorpe do.
Betty Ann Flyte, 71, and Rose Reese, 60, believe they have been touched by angels many times in their lives. But one angel, a living woman named Susan Reynolds, touched their lives in such a way, that it led to making a pilgrimage to Europe in search of a miracle.
And they found it.
Betty Ann was 62 years old when she began experiencing heart problems. She was told she needed three bypasses. She had the surgery done at St. Luke's in Bethlehem. Everything seemed okay, but within three months, all three were reblocked and she suffered a heart attack. She was sent to Lenox Hill, New York and had three stents inserted. Within four months, she was suffering from shortness of breath and not feeling well. It was discovered all three stents were blocked and she went into congestive heart failure. It was back to St. Luke's for breakotherapy to unblock the stents. Only one was unblocked. It was decided that Betty Ann needed to be in better health before attempting the other two.
About this time, Rose, an Avon Products district manager for 40 years, was looking for a Seraphim Angel figurine for her granddaughter, Kayla's third birthday. She had called seven places and no one had it. Someone suggested a store in Stroudsburg, Calling All Angels. One day she was in the area and located the store.
"It was the most gorgeous store. It was like heaven," Rose says.
Betty Ann's health had her extremely worried. Their mother had recently passed away. Rose was having a difficult time handling it all. She found the book, "The Mourning After" about dealing with death and decided she would buy it, along with the Seraphim Angel figurine she found.
The lady at the cash register started to check her out and then stopped. She held the book and said to Rose, "Is this for you? It's a good book. Your mom just died, didn't she?"
Rose was somewhat taken aback and told the lady she couldn't talk about it. She went on to tell Rose that her father had been there to meet her mother when she crossed and that they were fine. The lady introduced herself as Susan Reynolds, the owner of the store, also known as The Angel Lady.
Susan (Sue) has always been aware of her Guardian Angel since she was a very young girl. She has seen angels all her life, surrounding family members, friends and strangers. But it wasn't until she had a very close encounter that she began to understand their presence in her life.
Out on her regular walk one day, she heard a distinct voice say to her, "Get out of the way. A car is coming." She thought she was just very stressed from her job and was hearing voices. She ignored the warning. Again she heard a vocie say "Get out of the way. A car is coming." Beginning to freak out, she looked around to see where the voice was coming from. She saw nothing, so kept on walking. Finally, she felt a gentle shove that pushed her off the road and onto the shoulder. Within a second a car whipped around the curve and just missed her by inches. Sue fell to the ground, not sure what frightened her more...the near miss or hearing the voice. From that moment on, every time she went on her walk, the voice spoke to her again and again, having full-fledged conversations with her. Finally she found the courage to ask, "Who are you?" The answer was "I am your Guardian Angel sent by God. I have been with you since the moment you were conceived and I will be there to take you home."
She asked him his name and he replied, "Milo."
"So why me? Why now?" and Milo said, "You are being called to spread a message of hope to many. Let them know they are not alone and that God loves them so much that He has sent guardians to help them through their lives."
It is a mission Sue has come to accept and does not take lightly.
So it was Sue, The Angel Lady, who talked with Rose that day in the store for an hour and a half. A friendship bloomed. Rose visited Sue and the store several times after that. There was a period of about nine months when Rose just didn't get to the store. One day in September 2003, she was in the area and stopped in to see Sue. She told Sue about how bad Betty Ann was. Sue said, "You and Betty Ann should go with us on our pilgrimage to Medjugorje."
Rose had never heard of Medjugorje. Sue told her about the two girls who saw a bright silhouette of a woman on a hill in Medjugorje, a mountain village in Bosnia, Herzegovina, formerly Yugoslavia, on June 24, 1981. Ivanka Kivankovic, 15, and her friend Mirjana Dragicevic, 16, saw "the Gospa" (Our Lady). On June 25, they returned with four others. A figure in white called them to come up the hill. The children were somehow transported in some mysterious way to a beautiful Lady who called herself, the Queen of Peace.
Since then, the Lady gives messages to the seers for the whole world. To date The Queen of Peace has left thousands of messages. At first the messages were almost daily. Now for the past several years they come on the 25th of each month.
Thousands of pilgrims make the trek to the small town to visit the apparitions of the Gospa, as they call the Virgin Mary in Medjugorje. The Catholic Church has been investigating the apparations. As of today, no official answer has come from the Catholic Church as to whether or not the apparitions are credible.
But some of those who have made the pilgrimage to Medjugorje don't need confirmation from the Church to validate what they have experienced.
This would include Rose and Betty Ann.
When Rose left Sue that day, she prayed what to do. She then tried calling Betty Ann when she got home but didn't get an answer. That night she dreamt about a retirement party for her father-in-law. People were bringing her rosaries and manger scenes. The next day, Rose paid Betty Ann a visit. At that time, Betty Ann couldn't even walk from her dining room to the front door without being out of breath and tired.
Rose told Betty Ann about the pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Betty Ann's first thoughts were "How can I go?" thinking of her health and then "How can I pay for it?" But almost immediately she answered herself with, "You know, I have my retirement money. I'll use that to go." Betty Ann had recently retired from the Palmerton Hospital where she had managed the OR for 39 years.
Rose remembered her dream the night before about her father-in-law's retirement party. Coincidence that Betty Ann decided to use her "retirement" money? They both believed this pilgrimage was meant to be.
Betty Ann checked with her cardiologist to see if he thought she could travel. He told her to go but to listen to her body and avoid climbing mountains.
By the time Sue Reynolds and Betty Ann and Rose's group arrived in Medjugorje in the eary part of December 2003, Betty Ann was not faring well, feeling extremely exhausted.
"We were hoping and praying for a miracle. Everyone who makes this pilgrimage hopes for the same," says Rose.
On the night of Dec. 4, Rose woke up to see a circle of stars on the wall by Betty Ann's bed. She thought it was a reflection from outside. The next day when they were walking through the town of Medjugorje, she saw the same circle of stars, but this time, they were surrounding the head of a statue of Our Lady, in the form of a halo.
That night, Dec. 5, the sisters prepared for bed. The lights were off. Rose felt something touch her temple and all of sudden the prayer, Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) was in her head and she began to repeat it for comfort.
At this time, Betty Ann looked down her bed and saw what looked like a cape draped over it and felt a pulsating feeling in her left arm. Then it happened again. She told Rose what she was feeling. Rose asked her if she thought she was having a heart attack.
Betty Ann said, "No. But come over here and pray with me."
Rose knelt by Betty Ann's bed and held her hand. The pulsating went from Betty Ann's left hand, up her arm, through her body, down her right arm to her hand, which Rose felt. After a half an hour, it stopped. They didn't know what to think but believed they had just experienced a miracle.
Betty Ann asked Rose to push their twin beds together so they could sleep next to each other for the rest of the night. Betty Ann told Rose they weren't going to tell anyone about what had just happened. She didn't want the rest to think that they had been caught up in the moment of the other miracles taking place.
"Me? I wanted to wake up the whole hotel and tell everyone," says Rose.
They fell asleep holding each other's hands.
The next morning, Rose convinced Betty Ann that they should at least tell Sue.
Sue was not surprised. In fact, she told the sisters that there had been six angels surrounding Betty Ann's bed. The Archangel Raphael was the one who massaged Betty Ann's heart while the Blessed Mother's hand rested on top of Raphael's, guiding it. The sisters' deceased mother, Libby Sofranko, had been outside on the balcony. When Rose prayed the Agnus Dei prayer, it gave Libby permission to enter the room.
Sue told the sisters that the angels were still in their room.
"What I am getting from them is that Betty Ann, you are now in a progressive healing state. Don't stop taking your medicine but you will be getting better."
The next day, the sisters' group climbed Cross Mountain, 1,700 feet in elevation over rocky terrain. Betty Ann made the trek.
"She did good," says Rose.
"It's the most beautiful place. So peaceful," says Betty Ann.
They made another steep climb to Apparition Hill, surprising them both that Betty Ann could do it.
When they got home, Betty Ann went for her regular doctor appointment. Testing was done. She was told the ejection factor of her heart muscles had improved. She continued to improve, so much so, nothing had to be done to her other two stents and she no longer had congestive heart failure.
That was 10 years ago.
While Betty Ann continues to be monitored, she is still going strong and feels fine.
"I am enjoying my time, especially with my husband, Bill, my two children and four grandkids. I have no limitations to what I can do," she says, still somewhat amazed at how it all turned out.
The sisters have been back to Medjugorje twice since that first time. They went back the following year to give thanks and then went on to visit Rome. In 2006, they made the pilgrimage again to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first sightings of the Gospa, along with thousands and thousands of others.
Betty Ann and Rose have always had very strong faiths. They both are active members of Immaculate Conception Church in Jim Thorpe but the healing Betty Ann received at Medjugorje only strengthened their belief that prayer and faith works.
Now they feel that wherever they are, they seem to just know who to reach out to those in need. They do their best to help others restore their faith and give them hope.
"I can't explain it. You just know," says Rose, who retired from Avon and is a certified dog trainer in Tellington TTouch.
They brought home from Medjugorje several small silver medals. When they meet someone who they think needs help, they give that person one of the medals to help them keep the faith and to give them hope. Betty Ann wears several on a necklace at all times. Rose wears three on a pin.
Have they been touched by angels?
They know they have.
"You have to believe in angels. And a good strong faith gets you through anything," says Rose.