My own personal experiences with whom I now call my heavenly sister ,from what I recall St Therese was saying hello to me from a very young age I was all of six years old when on holiday at a camping park I was sent to fetch water, I had to cross a field to do so and on my way across the field nothing was unusual but I remember that on my way back a bunch of flowers were lying on the ground on the path that I had just walked, I remember thinking first of all how did they get there but as a child my next thought was to bring them to mummy of course mummy wanted to know how and where I got the flowers but after explaining she casually said “ah well little Therese must have left them for you” . That was the first time I heard the name Therese but certainly not the last I grew up and went to mass because mum and dad told me and at the age of eleven or so at mass I had an unusual experience of feeling very warm and when I looked at the priest he was glowing white I rushed home to tell my granny who lived with us due to ill health and God love her she decided to call a family meeting and proclaim to my brother and sisters that “John is going to be a priest” the immediate response was a fit of giggles and laughter as I suppose I wasn’t the priestly type of child, well granny being a devout catholic got so angry at them laughing and I remember feeling rather uncomfortable with the whole event and also scratching my head as to when or how did granny come to that conclusion, I suppose in a way I started to back away from my faith from then on but always remembered to say my prayers at night and on a few occasions like being sick with measles I saw our heavenly mother move gracefully and her mouth move as to say something in a picture of the perpetual succour which hung above my bed .But that’s about all I remember about growing up in the faith I left school at 15 and started work within a week of leaving school I suppose God was always there in my prayers and when I needed him like exams and trying times but as for going to mass I just got lazy and carried away in the world after being in a few young relationships that were not meant for me I ended up at the age of 21 in England working as a bar tender but I remember that every night I had the same reoccurring dream that freaked me out a bit I was standing on the sea shore at night the moon was huge white and very bright and all I did in the dream was stare at the horizon in the far distance I could just about make out land the waves were calm and peaceful but in a sense very inviting and calling which was strange to me as I can’t swim and don’t like water after six of months working in England I awoke one day and I decided to go home. Within a week of being home I met a friend who I grew up with in my street (now deceased) and he rambled on and on about Our Lady and about a place called melleray and how I must go with him I remember saying to him when did you start doing drugs and I think you’ve lost the plot my friend. To please him I eventually went on a pilgrimage with him and listened to all the people telling there events and myself quietly thinking all these people must have been let out of the nut factory for the weekend, when we arrived at the grotto I was surprised how beautiful it was and I was drawn to the singing and praying and the peace I felt whilst there but listening to people saying they say this and that well I just wasn’t buying it, I came home and of course told my family about the place and I suppose I was touched in a way as I started to feel the need to pray and I got the feeling that I used to get when I went to mass in a way I started to feel God again. A few months past and I was asked to go to melleray again but this time would I help take a youth trip of several buses I said that I would go to help out to cut a long story short on this one I met my wife on this trip I was asked would I like to make a petition to our lady and my request was to find a good girl and possibly a wife my wife’s petition was to find a good man and husband well the rest is history we’ve been married for 20 years and have six wonderful l children, I could go on about melleray but that’s a whole new book. After several years of marriage I was doing quite well in my job and was getting pretty high up the ladder as to say my wife was still very active in her religion she is a fantastic singer and sings beautifully to and for God she started a little prayer group in our house I myself was slipping and didn’t quite like the fact that people were in my house praying the whole God thing was removing itself from me they all prayed in the kitchen while I watched tv in the living room but yet again God wasn’t going to let go my brother in law who was part of the prayer group came to me one day with a statue he had found it in a skip and said “I found this as you can see its badly damaged and the paint is all chipped your good with paint and plaster John could you fix it up” I agreed that I would fix it and was a little bit shocked that the statue was St Therese well it took over three months to restore I had to drill a large hole in the base of the statue because it had to be submerged in hot water to remove all of the paint the statues base had been repaired before and a piece of news paper had been pushed into it the date on the newspaper was 1902 I couldn’t believe that the statue was over a hundred years old it took me over three months to restore it to its original beauty I spent a few hours a night working on it and slowly but surely I began to have little conversations with Therese or maybe she was having them with me during the time I was repairing the statue I heard that the relics of St Therese were coming to Belfast I felt duty bound to do something for the event and got a great urge to ask if I could maybe do a guard of honour in some way I felt a great urge to protect Therese’s relics whilst they were in Belfast I plucked up the courage and went to speak to the parish priests in St Peters cathedral as I knew that the relics were to be displayed there well I got a bit of a down to earth slap as the priest was a bit quick with me and said that someone else was dealing with the whole process very embarrassed I went home quite humbled, A few days later my wife informed me that my local Parish St Pauls had announced that a change of plan to the relics of St Therese had been made and that the relics would visit St Pauls for an hour for a special mass of the sick and that the priest had asked for volunteers well within a few hours I was at a meeting in St Pauls names were called as to who would be doing what on the day and I got picked to escort the relics from St peters to St Pauls on the day of the mass on leaving the chapel I mentioned to my local priest that I was very happy to be picked but I would have loved to have carried the relics into the chapel and of my recent experiences with the statue etc he replied very compassionately and said sorry John because it’s a mass for the sick we have asked Doctors and nurses to fulfil that duty. Content with the answer I went home ,the day arrived and I felt overwhelmed collecting the relics from St Peters and walking with them to St Pauls people lined the streets and threw flowers and applauded Irish dancers walked in front of the casket dropping rose petals on the ground it was just fantastic to be there on arrival at the door of St Pauls my local priest came running towards me smiling and shouting John ,John hugged me grabbed my hands and said you have got your wish I was confused by his emotions he smiled in fact I could have swore he danced he said the doctors and nurses can’t come today you will have to help me carry the casket there’s no one else well it all happened in a flash before I knew it I was carrying my sister into the chapel I had tears in my eyes and couldn’t breathe with all the roses that people were throwing I was covered in them as I got into the chapel an approached the alter I got two more surprises my mum and dad were there to witness their son carrying the relics and my wife had given the statue that I had completed to the priest to place on the altar beside the relics it was the best experience I’ve ever had I continually walk with my sister in heaven and I also continually fall but I know she is always there to pick me up…I love her quote when I look at the sky I know God is great because he initialled my name there and get great comfort when I can see the” T” she is referring to and I also love the fact when I look at it her own name seems to say THERE SE.. I hope you enjoyed my story please keep me in your prayers for I feel this past few years I am going though what Therese described as the dark days of the soul..