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