Healing Ministry of Divine Mercy - My Story & Maria Esperanza
Healing Ministry of Divine Mercy -
                                         In My Own Words

How I Met María Esperanza

It was the summer of 1997. At that time I was living a very normal middle class life. I am married, have four children, and at this writing, nine grandchildren. At that time, my two sons were married and my two daughters were in college. I had started a magazine publishing company in 1993, and was very busy trying to make it a success.

Spiritually you could have described us as Sunday Catholics. We went to church on Sundays and raised our children in the Church. We were not involved in any significant way spiritually. We didn’t pray the rosary. We were not involved in any prayer groups. We never visited a shrine nor exhibited any interest in becoming more spiritual in our lives.
From a personal perspective, my prayer life was limited to about three minutes a day. The reason I can say that is that I always prayed in the shower; and since I don’t have much hair, it doesn’t take very long to wash my hair!

That was the backdrop to my first experience with Maria Esperanza.

One day I received a telephone call from a man I had never met before; his name is Ron Kyle. He introduced himself and explained that we had a mutual friend, Chris Gianinni, who had described me and told him that I was involved in a media company. Ron explained that he was a major record promoter, involved with the most important artists and record companies in the music industry. He asked if I would like to have lunch with him to discuss the potential of doing business together. I agreed.

After setting a lunch date with Ron, I spoke to my business partner Kurt Peters about the telephone conversation and the possibility of doing business with Ron. Kurt was obviously as interested as I was about this new opportunity.

When the day of the scheduled luncheon came, I had to travel from our office in Mountainside, New Jersey, to a restaurant near Cherry Hill, New Jersey; a distance of about 90 to 100 miles. Ron, and two other men, met me at the restaurant.

After a few introductions, we sat down to have lunch. One of the men began to discuss a project he was involved with, installing a home theater system into a yacht. I wasn’t quite sure who the two men were as Ron really didn’t explain their presence, but I thought the discussion was just small talk in advance of our business meeting.

The “small talk” lasted for almost 90 minutes! They never asked me any questions, either personal or business; this guy just carried on about the yacht for the entire time. When the check came, Ron and his two friends just got up and began to leave the restaurant. Imagine the thoughts that were running through my head at that point. I was furious.

As we went down the stairs outside that restaurant, Ron put his arm around me; not a comfortable gesture considering the circumstances. At that point Ron looked at me and asked, “Have you ever heard of Betania, Venezuela?” Baffled, I told him that I did not. Then he asked, “Have you ever heard of a woman, her name is Maria Esperanza?” I again responded in the negative. He said, “Well, Maria Esperanza is a very important person. In fact, she had an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Betania, but what’s amazing is that it was approved by the Catholic Church. What do you think of that?”

I was stunned, to put it mildly. I couldn’t even imagine why he had brought this up. We hadn’t even talked about religion, and now he was asking me this crazy question. In fact, I didn’t even know what he was asking me. And so I said, “If you are asking me whether I believe in apparitions, the answer is ‘Yes’. I believe in Fatima and Lourdes. But if you are asking me whether I believe that this woman saw the Blessed Mother, how would I know? Why are you asking me this?” Ron replied, “Because she wants to meet you. Maria is coming to the United States in about a month to give a talk at Notre Dame University, and she going to stop in New Jersey. Would you be willing to meet with her?”
I thought he was crazy. I thought I knew about what was happening in the Catholic Church. I knew about Lourdes, Fatima, and even Medjugorje, but I had never even heard of Betania nor Maria Esperanza. Yet somehow, I felt compelled to agree, so I said, “Okay.”

When I left the restaurant I was completely bewildered. How could I have been cajoled into traveling an hour-and-a-half, to have a 90 minute nonsensical lunch discussion about a yacht, and now to be asked to meet some woman from Venezuela; it was all too much.

My partner Kurt awaited my arrival back at the office. Before I proceed, it’s necessary to speak about Kurt. Kurt is a lawyer with an impressive academic, athletic, and professional background. He attended Columbia University where he excelled academically and also broke Lou Gehrig’s RBI record on the men’s baseball team. Despite these impressive credentials, his religious life was quite unspectacular. He was baptized a Methodist, but never attended church. He was somewhere between an agnostic and atheist, but certainly closer to the atheist side of the scale. He also had little interest in the Catholic Church in that his wife was a fallen-away Catholic who harbored real resentment toward the Church.

You can just imagine Kurt’s reaction to my story. He laughed hysterically. Not only did he think that Ron’s story about Maria Esperanza was ridiculous, he was also amused by my being taken advantage of by Ron. Kurt’s summary of the whole experience said it all, “I can’t believe that this guy Ron got you to waste five hours of your time just to tell you about some woman who saw a ghost!” And so we forgot about it.

I truly did forget about it. I never checked to see if there was a Betania or a Maria Esperanza. The whole thing seemed silly; yet, about one month later Ron called again. “Paul, Maria Esperanza is in town staying at the Short Hills Hilton Hotel. She’d like to meet you on Thursday, would that by okay?” It was a little bit like stepping back into the Twilight Zone. Returning to an almost autonomical state, I checked my calendar, and told Ron that I was available. He told me that he would call Thursday morning to confirm the time and location in the hotel. Kurt was aware that I had spoken to Ron again, so he came to my office with a rather amused look on his face. He wanted to know what Ron had proposed. After telling him, he was very animated about the whole affair.

On Thursday morning at about 10:00 am, Kurt entered my office to ask if Ron had called yet. After telling him that I hadn’t heard from Ron, he chuckled and left the office. This was to repeat itself several more times that day, since Ron never called! Upon leaving the office that night, Kurt and I laughed about the whole thing, and decided that Ron must be a little crazy.

There was no call from Ron on Friday or Monday. This certainly continued to tickle Kurt, but it wasn’t very amusing to me. Finally, Tuesday morning, Ron called and Kurt happened to answer the phone. Kurt came into my office with a huge grin on his face, so I knew immediately it had something to do with Ron. “Ron’s on the phone,” he announced.

Ron explained, “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to call you on Thursday. Maria Esperanza had a problem with her heart and had to go to Morristown Hospital. As I was the only American, I had to accompany her, so that’s why I couldn’t call you. But don’t worry, she’s okay.” I thought to myself, “So what! I don’t even know if this person is real!” After explaining that Maria went to Rome, he told me that she would be back in ten days and definitely wanted to see me at that time. My reply, “Sure.”

Kurt’s amusement was reaching its apogee. He thought that this was one of the most humorous things that he’d ever seen, so when Ron called back in ten days, Kurt couldn’t wait to announce the call.
It was a Friday, and happened to be the day our magazine was scheduled to go to the printer. Since I am responsible for production, it happens to be my busiest day of the month. When I saw Kurt’s face as he entered my office, I knew that it had something to do with Ron. “Ron’s on the line,” he announced. I responded, “I don’t have any time for that nut job, get rid of him.” Kurt persisted, “Don’t you even want to know what this woman wants? Why don’t you talk to him?” Kurt was hooked.

I was growing angry. Not only did I have a crazy person on the phone determined to waste my time, now my partner was a co-conspirator. After a few sharp words with Kurt I picked up the phone and said, “What do you want.” Ron explained, “Maria Esperanza is here at the Short Hills Hilton, and she’d like to see you at noon. Okay?”
My answer was short and sweet. “No. I can’t come.” Ron was stunned and replied, “But you don’t know who this is.” I explained to Ron that this was the day my magazine was due at the printer and I couldn’t afford the time. His response, “But you don’t know who this is.” I was growing quite annoyed with Ron, and Kurt was badgering me to accept the invitation. Just at the time I was about to hang up on Ron, Kurt said to me, “If you go, I’ll go with you and help you to finish the magazine when we return.” He was certainly hooked and wanted to find out what this was all about.

Finally, I gave in and told Ron, “I have exactly 20 minutes that I can spend with you. Whatever this woman wants, it had better take 20 minutes or I’ll have to leave. Okay?” Ron accepted this condition.
Kurt and I left our office for the Short Hills Hilton at about 11:50 am. When we arrived at the lobby just at noon, and the only person there was Ron, my first thought was, “Not again.” After introducing Kurt, I asked, “Where is this woman?” Ron replied, “Don’t worry, she’ll be here. She is from South America, and they have a different concept of time.” I reiterated that I was planning to leave at 12:20, and then we sat down on one of the lobby couches. Kurt sat opposite us on another couch.

At this point, I expected Ron to explain what Maria Esperanza wanted from me. I thought that maybe she wanted a donation, or perhaps she wanted my help in publishing a newsletter. But the last thing on my mind was a spiritual connection.

True to form, Ron started talking about some boy band that he was promoting. (I think it was N’Sync.) I was stunned. I interrupted him and reminded him that I was leaving in less than 20 minutes. After reassuring me, he continued to talk about the record promotion business. Kurt was highly amused. He enjoyed my obvious annoyance with Ron and had become totally curious about the entire affair.
At exactly 12:20, I stood up and began to walk out of the hotel door. Kurt just sat there, intending to see this to its conclusion. As I was in the doorway, Ron jumped up off the couch and grabbed me. He pleaded, “Please give me a couple more minutes. I’ll call Maria Esperanza on the house phone to see what’s happening.” Ron called Maria’s room and came back to tell me that she was coming right down. And so I waited.

After a few more minutes, this woman and two men walked into the lobby. She appeared to be about 65 to 70 years old, dressed beautifully in a wool suit and a formal hat with a feather. Next to her was a tall gentleman, also dressed in a very nice suit and tie, holding her hand. I assumed that was her husband. On Maria’s opposite side stood a young man, about 35 years old, who was dressed in jeans and a tee shirt.
As they approached, Ron and I stood up and walked over to the trio. Ron introduced me to each of them, Maria Esperanza, Geo, and their son-in-law Carlos. They began to speak to me… in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish! After a few confusing seconds, Carlos explained that Maria was inviting me to lunch.

As Kurt was not with us during the introductions, he was not introduced. He stood behind Maria and company, and when heard that I was invited to lunch, he made a gesture towards the hotel dining room indicating his interest in accepting the invitation. I was furious, but finally decided to accede to his wishes. If Kurt didn’t care about getting the magazine out, why should I?

We sat at a rectangular-shaped table. Maria Esperanza sat at the head of the table. Opposite her sat Ron. Her husband Geo sat to her left and Carlos to her right. I sat between Geo and Ron, and Kurt sat between Ron and Carlos. Remember, Kurt hadn’t even been introduced at this point. He was like the proverbial fly on the wall.

(From this point on, whenever I say that “Maria said,” read that to mean that Carlos translated what Maria said.)

After we settled in our seats, Maria looked directly at me and said, “So what can I tell you?” I was totally surprised at this because I thought that she was going to tell me what she wanted. To make it worse, everyone at the table looked at me as if I knew what I was supposed to ask. After a somewhat pregnant pause, I decided to ask her about her life. I thought that she would go right to her “apparition” since that was obviously the most impressive part of her life history. True to form, she didn’t start there. She began her story at age 3!

“When I was three years old, my father died,” Maria explained. “And when I turned 5, my mother had to leave home to settle my father’s estate. My father had a trading business throughout the Caribbean. As I stood on the dock of the Orinoco River near my home (Barancas), I was crying because my mother was leaving me, and I was afraid she wouldn’t be coming back and I would be left alone.” (This occurred in 1933, in a fairly rural area of Venezuela, about 8 hours from Caracas. In those days, it was not unusual for someone to leave by boat and never return.)

Maria continued, “As I was looking out into the river, all of a sudden St. Therese, the Little Flower, arose out of the water. She was carrying a bouquet of roses, and she smiled at me.” At this point Maria explained that St. Therese told her not to be sad because her mother would return safely. And then Maria told me that somehow a beautiful rose came into her hand. She was not sure if St. Therese threw it to her and she caught it, or whether it just materialized in her hand. Her explanation was, “It was such a shock to see St. Therese, I just don’t know how it happened. But St. Therese told me to give the rose to my mother, and so I did… that was my first mystical experience, when I was only five years old.”

Although the story was somewhat unusual, I must say that I wasn’t very interested. I really didn’t know what this had to do with me. Nevertheless, Maria continued with her story. “When I turned 12, I contracted pneumonia and had to be hospitalized.” This would have been in 1940 in the outback of Venezuela where they didn’t really have the drugs to effectively combat the disease. “I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks and I was very, very sick. I felt that I was dying. One day I was so sick that I prayed to the Blessed Mother, ‘Mother, either cure me or take me to heaven, but don’t leave me like this.’ At that point the Blessed Mother appeared to me, and I recovered from the disease…that was my second mystical experience."

At this point, I looked at my watch. It was already 1:40 pm, and I thought, “She’s up to age twelve, and she’s about seventy years old… I’ll be here until 5 o’clock tonight.” And so I said, “Maria, it’s not necessary for you to tell us your whole life story today. Eat your soup, it’s getting cold.”

I think Maria was a little taken aback by my comment because she stood up, pointed her finger at me, her face became very stern and said, “Oh no, we have a lot to talk about!” With that, she stood up and walked away from the table.

Everyone at the table sort of stared at Maria as she left the table, a little surprised by her unannounced exit. I was somewhat embarrassed by the event since I wasn’t sure whether I was disrespectful by my comment. Nevertheless, I was still hoping to finish my magazine that day, and wasn’t ready to give up on that hope.

When Maria returned to the table, she looked directly at my partner Kurt. Up to this point, Kurt was really not part of the conversation. Maria’s face became very animated as she looked at him and actually started to chuckle. As she pointed her finger at him she said, “You are very smart, but you are very young.” Mr. Geo and Carlos then began to laugh. I didn’t quite understand why this comment was funny until I realized that Carlos made a translation error. Carlos used the word “young", while the correct translation should have been “immature”. When I realized the error, I also began to laugh because her description of Kurt was totally accurate. And then she turned toward me.
Having just poked fun at Kurt, I was expecting a similar treatment. I thought that maybe this was Maria’s way of teasing. However, in the seconds it took from looking at Kurt, to moving her head across the table to look at me, her whole face changed. She went from practically laughing, to being deadly serious in her expression. Her eyes filled with tears, and she said to me, “Today is a blessed day in your life, because if you didn’t come here today, you would have died!”

No one was laughing now. Although it was a bit of a shock to me, I wasn’t that affected by the comment. I really didn’t know who Maria Esperanza was, and whether she was truly spiritual or not; so I just listened with perhaps a greater interest than I had before. Maria continued, “You know, you have been experiencing a great deal of stress in you life, and that stress is killing you, and would have killed you if you didn’t come here today.” (I’m not sure if I thought this at that moment, but I certainly have since. I was sure glad that Kurt had such an extraordinary interest in meeting Maria that day.)

Maria was right. I had been experiencing an extraordinary amount of stress over the five preceding years. My daughter Angela nearly died of a very strange medical condition in which her stomach became paralyzed. And, if that wasn’t enough, my company was taken over by a mobster, and I had to testify against him in a grand jury proceeding.
Maria then began to tell me, in complete detail, all the symptoms of heart disease that I was experiencing. She spent the next 10 minutes or so, describing in complete detail everything that I was, in fact, experiencing. There were a number of details which she spoke about, which were so intimate, that my wife didn’t even know about them.
I was amazed. Although I didn’t respond to her statements, either affirming or denying them, everything she said was true. What was most amazing was that she spoke as if she were reading them off my medical chart. I was experiencing a type of angina. I was in the care of a cardiologist, and my father had his first heart attack in his mid 40’s, and subsequently died of heart disease. I had also lost five aunts and uncles, on both sides of my family, to heart disease before they reached 52 years old! And I was 49 at the time I met Maria. I was fairly impressed by the accuracy of her comments. And although I have never spoken with a psychic, I thought, “She’s a pretty good psychic.”
By the end of her description about my heart problem, she looked at me and said, “I am going to relieve you of this problem right now.” She then extended her arm in my direction, and moved it from left to right and said, “It’s taken care of.”

I didn’t know what to think. Although I knew that I was very stress- filled, I didn’t feel any change as a result of Maria’s words. In fact, I was still a little anxious about getting back to the office.

Next, Maria asked me, “When you pray, do you pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus?” I immediately replied that I did not. I know what the Sacred Heart is, but I wasn’t in the habit of praying to the Sacred Heart, so I said, “No.” She immediately said, “From now on, whenever you pray, I want you to pray to the Sacred Heart, because if you do, our Lord will give you whatever you ask of Him.”

I was actually impressed by this statement. She didn’t equivocate. She didn’t say something like, “Pray, and our Lord will hear you.” That’s pretty hard to verify. She said our Lord would give me whatever I asked of Him. I was somehow reassured by this statement because I thought that it would be easy to check. I would pray for something, and if I was given it, then I could place more credence in Maria Esperanza.

Up to this point, Maria Esperanza looked straight into my eyes each time she addressed me; but now, she began to focus on something over my head, and just behind me. After several seconds of squinting and shifting her position in the chair, she began, “I see a tall spirit standing behind you…” My initial reaction was, “Great, now we’re going to have a séance right in the middle of the dining room at the Short Hills Hilton Hotel.” She continued, “He’s always with you, and is always helping you.” She continued to describe in great detail this “spirit’s” physical attributes as well as his personality. I was amazed, although I sat there without reacting to this description. She was describing my father perfectly.

My father had died almost four years before this, a fact that I had never discussed with Maria or anyone connected with her.

After several minutes of exact and completely accurate detail, Carlos translated Maria as saying, “St. Joseph.” Maria quickly corrected him and said, “No, not saint.” This meant that the spirit’s name was Joseph. My deceased father’s name is Joseph! But I didn’t say anything or acknowledge this.

At that point I wanted to find out whether my partner Kurt realized that Maria had been describing my father, so I turned my head in his direction. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Kurt’s face was white; and his eyes were opened wide and filled with tears. His mouth was trembling as he was having a difficult time controlling his emotion. He looked into my eyes, leaned across the table in my direction and said, “Paul, I see Joe standing behind you!”

I couldn’t believe it. I was so shocked that I didn’t even turn around to see if I could see my father. Dazed, I thought, “Here is the most skeptical person I have ever met, an agnostic/atheist, crying in a public restaurant, telling me that he has seen my dead father standing behind me!” I was completely shocked by Kurt’s statement and decided that Maria Esperanza was no ordinary person.

Maria began rubbing her left leg, grimacing in pain, and said, “What happened to your left leg or left foot when you were 15 years old?”
I really didn’t know the answer to the question. I was still in a state of shock over Kurt seeing my father, so I couldn’t think of anything. I told Maria that I couldn’t think of anything, and she told me to think about it some more.

After a period of a few minutes, I still couldn’t think of anything and I told Maria that I just didn’t know what she was talking about. At that point she became very aggressive, tapped on the table and said, “You don’t understand. You cannot leave here today until you tell me what happened to your left leg or left foot when you were 15 years old!”
Frustrated by my confused mental state, I put my head in my hands and tried to focus on my life at 15. After struggling to regain my composure and focus, I began to reconstruct my life at that time. Where was I living? What was I doing? Ten minutes later, I remembered that I was playing football, and after practice one day we were fooling around in the gym playing basketball in our football uniforms. Someone knocked into me at some point, and I came down on the top of my left foot. My foot was destroyed. I was on crutches for about three months, etc.
When I told Maria the story, she shook her head and said that was what she was talking about. She then said, “I want to tell you something. Jesus, himself, interceded for you that day, or you would have been crippled for life. But there is something else wrong with your foot.”
I was totally shocked by this latest statement because in 1971, I was disabled in my left foot while I was in the Army. In 1972, I was designated a disabled veteran, and have been ever since. For thirty years I had experienced pain in this foot, every day.

Maria told me that she was going to heal me of this problem, and stood up at the end of the table. She struck the table with her two hands and told me to stand up. I stood up and she said, “You are healed.”
By this point, I had been sitting for over 2 hours, so I wasn’t experiencing any pain in my foot. Again, I felt nothing, yet she told me that I was healed. She then returned to her seat.

Next, she clutched her right leg and began to actually cry. She looked at me and said, “I see an old woman in your life and she can’t walk.” As she said this she began to drag her leg as if she needed to drag it in order to walk. She continued, “I’m not sure if this is a person or a spirit, but I can see that this is causing you a great deal of stress.”
For the first time I acknowledged what she was saying, and said, “That is my mother. My mother has a sciatic nerve problem in her right leg, and she can’t walk.”

Maria looked at me and said, “I am going to relieve you of this stress.” She then extended her right hand, moved it from left to right and said, “It’s taken care of.” My mother wasn’t there so I couldn’t check to see if Maria’s words were true, so I just accepted them at face value. Maria then stood up and approached me with her hands extended. I stood up to be respectful and placed my hands in hers. She began to squeeze my hands. I was surprised at how strong she was because it felt like she was crushing my hands! She then pulled me directly against her. As soon as I came in contact with her, I really couldn’t see anything in the room. What I did see was like a wall of colored lights, and she said, “I want you to tell your mother, that when she dies, I will be your mother forever.” I was shocked, but Kurt was even more shocked. He began to cry out loud, thinking that my mother was going to die that day or the next.

Although I heard Kurt, I still could not see him because I was in a kind of ecstatic state. I realized that although it was Maria’s voice, it was really the Blessed Mother speaking to me! I was overwhelmed with emotion. Then, Maria let me go. As soon as she released my hands, I could see everything again. Kurt was still whimpering, and I was in complete shock. She returned to her seat. “Paul, you have tremendous faith. Everything that has happened to you in your life has been to prepare you for this day. From this day forward, you will see things clearly that other people can’t see, and people will begin to follow you. Sometimes when you are in a crowd, you will notice someone staring at you. They will see Jesus because you will become an apostle of Christ and save thousands of souls!” She then got up and left.

I was still in shock over the many things that happened, so I really didn’t think about what she had just said. It seemed too fantastic to be true. How would I save other people? What could I say to them? I really didn’t understand the prophecy at that time.

When we left the hotel, Kurt was still sad about my mother and asked me to call her. Later that day I told the story to my mother and my wife. When I got to the part about the Sacred Heart of Jesus, my mother nearly jumped off the couch. She said, “Do you remember that we had a picture of the Sacred Heart in the hallway of our house when you were growing up?” I said that I did remember. She continued, “Did you ever take a close look at it?” I said, “No.”

“If you looked at it carefully, you would have noticed that your father pledged our family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus when you were a little boy.” She then asked if I remembered seeing it in their new house. I did not. My mother continued, “After your father died, I packed that picture of the Sacred Heart along with all my other possessions. And when I moved into your house, I didn’t see any religious pictures, so I felt funny about asking if I could put it up. So I left it packed up with some other things and it’s been in your basement for four years. But guess where it is now?” 

I asked, “Where?”

“It’s on my bed, I decided to put it up in my room today!”

I was in shock. Again.

The next morning I got out of bed and went into the bathroom. I was already in the bathroom before I realized that I HAD NO PAIN! For the first time in nearly 30 years, I didn’t have any pain in my left foot. And after showering and getting dressed, I went down to the kitchen to get some juice. There was my mother walking around the kitchen!
Two days later, I went to the cardiologist’s office and took a battery of tests. Subsequently, he told me that everything was okay!
Although other things happened that day, these are the most important; and many, many other things were to happen over the years I knew Maria Esperanza.

Paul C. Miller, OFS FSDM © 2006 Parlin, NJ all rights reserved