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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Just One Mass for My Mother
How a mother’s miracle was behind the start of the Pilgrim Queen of the Family apostolate.

1.	Fr Alexandre Paciolli, LC, born on December 12, asked Mary to be his personal patron.
1. Fr Alexandre Paciolli, LC, born on December 12, asked Mary to be his personal patron.

October 27, 2009. When Fr Alexandre Paciolli, LC, was ordained to the priesthood, he found himself at a point of joy mixed with deep sorrow. It seemed then that his most heartfelt prayer to Our Lady had been left unanswered. But time would prove him wrong… and twice blessed.

Finding God in the Brazilian Navy

Fr Alexandre Paciolli, LC, was born in Fortaleza, Brazil on December 12, 1968. He was a mischievous child, always playing pranks and getting into trouble. But one day, he decided it was time to get his act together and start fresh. He began studying and passed a difficult exam to get into a military school. At the age of 10, he was accepted into the school.

“There, I began to understand what discipline was all about, and I behaved better,” he said. After four years, he decided he wanted to be a military officer.

Several years later, he was a helicopter pilot for the Brazilian Navy. His first year of Naval Academy was very difficult, but he found solace and strength in the chapel. In those quiet times of prayer, he began to grow in love for Christ in the Eucharist. One day, he met a Legionary priest, and was impressed by his joy and fervor while celebrating Mass. After a period of running away from the vocation, he finally decided to take the step. His parents were not in agreement with his decision at that time.

“She is my patron too!”
When he got to the seminary in Rome for the first time, he was struck by a beautiful image of Our Lady in the chapel. He had never seen such an image before.

“What image and title of Mary is this?” he asked the priest who was with him.

P. Alexandre Paciolli
Father Alexandre entered the Naval military academy of Brazil at fifteen years of age. Here he is with his dad.
is Our Lady of Guadalupe, the “dark Virgin” of Mexico. We celebrate her feast day on December 12,” he answered.

He was amazed. “I was born on December 12!” he exclaimed. “So she is my patron too!” From that moment on, he welcomed her into his life as his Mother and protector. He also turned to her in fervent, daily prayer for his parents, asking for them to understand his vocation one day, and for them to be present at his ordination to the priesthood.

After some years, his mother accepted her son’s vocation. But one day, he also received devastating news: his mother was gravely ill with an aggressive form of bone marrow cancer, and it was highly unlikely that she would make it to his priestly ordination, which was to be in 5 years.

Upon receiving this news, Br Paciolli went to the chapel and cried, asking Our Lady of Guadalupe for one favor: “You can gain everything from your Son,” he prayed. “If it is God’s will, please allow me to celebrate one Mass for my mother. That is all I ask!”

Much to the amazement of the doctors, his mother’s cancer had become controlled, and her health improved. Full of gratitude toward Our Lady, Br Paciollio continued praying for “just one Mass.” He had only a few years left until ordination, and he was praying for her every day.

But just one year before his ordination date, his mother’s health began deteriorating again. He kept praying, his heart full of hope that Our Lady would grant him this one wish for which he had prayed so long.

“Am I not here, who am your mother?”

It was late December of the year 2000, and his ordination was just around the corner. Just before he began his 8-day spiritual exercises, his father called him and told him that his mother would not be able to attend his ordination. The cancer had returned with a vengeance, and she was not able to move because the pain was so strong.

He entered spiritual exercises with a heavy heart, and on ordination day on January 2, 2001, he received the sacrament with a mixture of joy and sorrow. His father was there, but his mother’s absence filled him with sadness. For so many years, he had dreamed of being ordained with her present, and of giving her holy Communion with his own hands.

At one point during the ordination ceremony, he turned around and realized that he was standing right in front of a large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which had been set up for the ordinations. As he looked at her, his heart filled with peace, and he thought, “My earthly mother is not here, but my heavenly Mother is with me.” Deep in his heart, he heard a voice that he had never heard before, saying, “Am I not here, who am your Mother?”

On that day, God touched his father’s heart as well, and for the first time, he accepted his son’s priestly vocation—another act of kindness from the Blessed Virgin. But just after the ordination ceremony, his father gave him the sad news: his mother was on her deathbed. With his superior’s permission, Fr Paciolli immediately left for Brazil with his father.

The first and last Mass

When they got to the house, he found her very weak, her body consumed by the sickness. She was like Christ crucified on her bed of pain, completely unable to move.

Then, for a reason that Fr Paciolli himself cannot explain, he was inspired to say to her with an inexplicable authority that he felt did not come from him: “In God’s name, I order you to get up!” To the shock of his relatives, his mother rose from the bed and embraced him, and told the family that she wanted to get dressed and ready to go to her son’s first Mass.

The family went together to St Vincent de Paul parish for the first Mass that Fr Alexandre Paciolli would ever celebrate in his hometown. At the moment of the consecration as he lifted the Body of Christ in the host, Fr Paciolli heard deep in his heart, “Your mother’s sickness has been for the Father’s glory, but now it is time for her to rest in me.”

He gave her Holy Communion. Afterwards, she knelt with great difficulty to give thanks for the Body of Christ, and then closed her eyes and lost consciousness. She died shortly after.

The Pilgrim Queen begins her travels

Afterwards, Fr Alexandre Paciolli, LC, was assigned to work in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Because of his love for Our Lady, he was looking for a way to spread Marian devotion among the Brazilian people. He began speaking about Mary on a radio program and distributing little holy cards of Our Lady to anyone who was interested. The radio program and the holy cards became quite successful. Afterwards, he had the idea of giving away triptych images of Our Lady, so several were made in different sizes.

A few years later, he was asked to give the Marian outreach to a group of women in Monterrey, Mexico so that they could develop it into an apostolate that could be easily replicated in other cities around the world. Before too long, the concept of Pilgrim Queen of the Family was born as a way of linking 10 families to pray the Rosary in the presence of a traveling triptych image of Our Lady. Each of the 10 families receives her image for 3 days, and during her stay in their homes, they pray the Rosary together and honor her in a special way.

In the past five years since its foundation, the apostolate has spread all over the world, reaching thousands of families on all five continents, in countries as diverse as China, Cameroon, and the United Arab Emirates. As a pilgrim, a mother, and a queen, she continues touching hearts with the same words she once spoke to St Juan Diego so many years ago: “Am I not here, who am your mother?”



Related links web site
Mission Network
Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center and the Center for Family Development
Changing Hearts
Cancun-Chetumal Prelature
Helping Hands Medical Missions

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