Dear Father Julio,
Nine months ago, on this date, we left San Francisco to visit New Mexico. We came to see the Luminarias in Albuquerque. We saw you and Fr. Roca on Christmas Day. Those were better days. I spoke to you about our fertility issue and our fertility appointment of February 16. I explained to you how frustrated we were with our inability to conceive. You simply mentioned to me to think about it and that there must be a reason why. Well, February 16 came and we still did not conceive and we were off to the fertility doctor. It was then we found the reason which you spoke of on Christmas Day. Through blood tests for fertility, it was discovered that Jessica has thyroid cancer. She had no pain or discomfort and was completely unaware of any illness.
On September 28, at 10 AM, she will be going for surgery. After what you told me, I think a miracle has ocurred, once again, at Chimayo! Thank you for your inspiration. Could you please keep us in your prayers.
And also pray for our return to Chimayo soon. Chimayo is my favorite place in all of the places I have ever been to.
Hope to see you and Fr. Roca at Chimayo again very soon.
Many visits to Chimayo--and each just as moving as the first! By sheer chance in 2003, after getting married at the Cathedral of Santa Fe, my wife Jessica Luu and I happened to stumble upon El Santuario de Chimayo on our journey through Northern New Mexico.
We are residents of California and came to New Mexico to share our wedding vows. Upon entry at El Santuario, I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace and tranquility. There was something about this place, something far beyond description!
When we returned to California and time went by, the images and feelings of Chimayo continued to thrive vividly in our minds. In 2004, my mom, Maria Xavier of San Francisco, California, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. That same year, we made a Good Friday Pilgrimage to Chimayo in hopes of her being cured of her disease. This was our first of, so far, three walks.
On Christmas Day 2005, we were back in New Mexico and met Fr. Julio for the very first time. While at the Santuario I explained to him that we were having fertility issues and we would be seeking the direction of a fertility specialist in February 2006 if we were not successful. Fr. Julio simply looked at me, very humbly, and said that "there must be a reason why" and to simply let the issue rest.
I really was not sure how to interpret what he had just told me. Time advanced and February came with no sign of success with fertility. On February 16, 2006, we consulted with Dr. Victor Fujimoto at UCSF Women’s Health Center in San Francisco.
The fertility process would end up with several routine tests to be administered to both of us. One test was of Jessica’s thyroid--standard protocol, as a properly balanced thyroid has a lot to do with conception. This routine test came back a little less than routine. To be exact, far less than routine! The test determined that she had thyroid cancer at the age of 29. Everything seemed normal; Jessica had no pain, no symptoms, nothing! This was a shock!
I was so upset and depressed with the diagnosis but came to remember what Fr. Julio had told us on Christmas Day. I immediately felt better about the situation and felt that we had "found the reason" that Fr. Julio had spoken about. I called Fr. Julio that night to tell him about the diagnosis. Although the road ahead was laid out with lots of uncertainty, I felt that God truly was holding us high and helping us down the path. The cancer was in an early stage and deemed to be very treatable.
Surgery occurred in September 2006 with a follow up surgery in December 2006. A single dose of radiation was administered in February 2007 and all was looking up!
Shortly after, in April 2007, we returned to Chimayo for a Good Friday Pilgrimage. We started our pilgrimage at Santa Cruz Church, walked to El Santuario and walked back to Santa Cruz Church, a total of some 15 miles of pilgrimage. We walked this pilgrimage in hopes of success for Jessica’s cancer treatment. This was Good Friday Pilgrimage number two.
In October 2007, Jessica was cleared to proceed with attempts to conceive. Again, time advanced with no success. In April 2009, arriving at Holy Family Parish prior to our next Good Friday walk, we asked Fr. Julio to bless us. And so, on Good Friday, April 10, 2009, we "walked the walk" to the Santuario, beginning at Holy Family Church and praying for success with fertility. This was our third Good Friday Pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayo.
Several days later, while on Sacred Native American soil in Taos, New Mexico, we learned through blood tests taken at Holy Cross Hospital that we were going to have a baby! Our Good Friday Pilgrimage was successful and we ended up being blessed twice, with twins: Jezenya Bernadette-Chimayo Xavier and Joseph Anthony-Chimayo Xavier!
For the record, all three Good Friday Pilgrimages provided us with endless gifts of miracles! Our initial 2004 walk has yielded continued good health for my mom. Our 2007 walk has enabled Jessica’s cancer to remain at bay and our 2009 walk has provided us with two healthy bundles of joy!
In the very near future, we will be returning to Chimayo with Jezenya and Joseph for our fourth Good Friday Pilgrimage, a pilgrimage in Thanksgiving for our answered prayers. Thank you, GOD, for hearing our prayers! Thank you, El Santuario de Chimayo, for such a sacred place and for miracles beaming everywhere and mostly for providing hope and inspiration for tens of thousands of pilgrims.
George Mendoza was correct when he said, "In all the places in the world I have been, this must be heaven." You were so right, George!
God bless everyone who visits Chimayo! Come to "el pocito" with your ailments and leave with new found hope, inspiration and miracles!
Mike Xavier and Jessica Luu
San Francisco, California