More than seven months after suffering paralysis in a backyard accident, Mary Maloney is back in school. She is improving physically, and firmly believes that God will restore her health.
The eighth grader returned this week to the cheers of her classmates at Blessed Francis Seelos Academy in Wexford. She had been away to do extended therapy at rehabilitation hospitals in Philadelphia and Louisville, Kentucky.
Mary was jumping on a trampoline last August when she landed on her head and neck, leaving her unable to feel or move anything from the chest down. Doctors diagnosed it as a spinal stroke. The road to recovery has been difficult, but the family has received strong spiritual support.
“Our faith is everything,” said Mary’s mother, Pam Surano. “It’s an attack of infirmity, and we’re attacking it back through the Holy Spirit.”
Last fall, Mary told her mom that she heard God’s voice, and asked her to write down His words:
“God told me, Mary, in order for me to heal you, you must stay faithful and believe that I will. Do not forget that I will heal you. Your faith will allow me to perform a miracle and heal you. Then you can tell everyone and they will know my work and turn to me.”
Their pastor, Father Will Wuenschel of Saint Aidan Parish, visited Mary during her rehab in Philadelphia and Louisville. He said the family’s faith has been extraordinary and is already changing hearts.
“People have told me, ‘We haven’t prayed or even thought about God for a long time, but we’re praying for Mary,’” Father Wuenschel said.
“She has been a great example to everyone of perseverance and trust.”
Nicole Maxwell, Mary’s language arts teacher at Seelos Academy, said students and faculty had been praying that she would be strong enough to come back and graduate with her classmates.
“There was just a genuine outpouring of love and support when Mary returned on Tuesday,” Maxwell said. “She has never wavered in her faith and the students have found strength and comfort through her belief that God has a plan.”
Mary’s mother said they are heartened by the progress she made during their five months away from home.
“She now has feeling in her legs, and can get her foot and toes to move,” Surano said. “She’s also regaining core strength. Her abdomen muscles are beginning to activate, which is crucial to walking. And she can do pushups and sit ups, which for someone with C-7 to T-5 paralysis, is amazing.”
Much more physical therapy is ahead, along with many more prayers. Friends formed a “Miracles for Mary” group to help pay medical bills and research new treatments. New plans are in the works.
“Mary wants to return to altar serving, and she hopes to attend North Catholic High School in the fall,” Surano said.
“The Holy Spirit is powerful, and there’s nothing God cannot do.”