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Feb 23, 2023 1748 Rob O'Hara
Encounter

Mummy’s Boy

Nothing makes him so proud as to be called a ‘Mummy’s boy’. Rob O’ Hara narrates his beautiful life story of living close to the Mother of God

Where did it all begin?

Many years ago as a little boy, I grew up in Dublin as an only child with fantastic parents. They loved to pray the Rosary every single day without hesitation. Father Patrick Payton’s motto, “The Family that prays together, stays together” was the catch cry of my home life.

I first remember encountering Our Lady when I was a little boy. Mum and Dad had invited people over to pray the Rosary in the month of May, Mary’s month. It didn’t mean much to me, but all of a sudden, as I sat among the crowd of people praying the Rosary, I felt a strong desire to pray. The scent of roses filled the air and I felt the presence of Our Lady. When the Rosary was finished, I felt the urge to keep praying and urged people to stay for longer, “Let’s pray another Rosary, Our Lady is here.” So, we prayed another Rosary, but that still wasn’t enough. People began to leave, but I stayed there and prayed another 10-15 Rosaries in the company of Our Lady. I didn’t see Her, but I knew She was there.

When I was four or five years old, I experienced Our Lady’s grace and help for the first time in a tangible way. Back in the 80s, unemployment was high. My father had lost his job, and since he was in his mid-forties it wasn’t easy to get another one. I heard this story many times growing up, so the details are clear in my mind. My parents turned to Our Lady with trust. They started praying a Rosary Novena and at the end of the novena, my Dad got the job he really wanted.

Nagging Emptiness

When I hit my teens, I started noticing that faith, prayer and even talking about Our Lady was not “cool”. So I stopped praying the Rosary and found excuses not to be there when my parents prayed it. Sad to say, I fell into the secular world and really threw myself into that. I forgot about the peace, joy, and fulfillment I had found in prayer as a young boy and into my early teens. I threw myself into sports, socializing, and eventually, into my career. I was successful and popular, but I always had a gnawing emptiness inside me. I was longing for something, but I didn’t know what it was. I would come home to see my Mum and Dad praying the Rosary, and would laugh to myself and walk past.

When this nagging emptiness continued to blight my life, I wondered why this void wouldn’t leave me, no matter what I did. Although I had a good job, I was being bullied so badly, I was falling into depression. One day, after another terrible day, I came home to see my parents on their knees, praying the Rosary as usual. They turned to me with delight and asked me to join them in prayer. I couldn’t think of an excuse, so I said, “Okay.” I picked up the rosary beads that were once so familiar to my touch and I bowed my head in prayer.

Under Mary’s Mantle

I went to Mass where some old friends noticed me sitting at the back of the church, so they invited me to join them at a prayer meeting. When I went, I was surprised to find other young people praying the Rosary. As I knelt to pray, all these delightful childhood memories of me praying this beautiful prayer flashed through my mind. Since I had broken that relationship with my “Mother” I had not talked with her for a very long time. I started pouring out my heart to Our Lady, regularly praying the Rosary on the way to work.

Back in the motherly embrace of Mother Mary, all the dark areas of my life and the heaviness started drifting away and I started to have a great time at work. When I realized just how much Our Lady loved me, I started pouring out more and more of my heart to her. I felt enveloped in her blue mantle surrounded by peace and calm.

People started to notice how happy I was and asked me what had changed. “Oh, I’m praying The Rosary again.” I’m sure my friends thought this was a little strange for a young man in his early 20s, but they could see how happy I was. The more I prayed, the more I fell in love with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the Eucharist. As my relationship with Jesus grew and I turned more and more to Jesus, I started getting involved in Catholic youth movements in Ireland like Pure in Heart and Youth 2000. I devoured books like “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary” and “True Devotion to Mary” by Saint Louis De Montfort. His motto “Totus Tuus” which Saint Pope John Paul II had adopted, struck me deeply. I also said to Our Lady, “I give myself totally to you.” My faith grew as it was nurtured by these great organizations and I felt a superabundance of joy. I thought, “This is Heaven, this is great!”

Finding “the one”

I knew in my heart that I had a vocation to get married, but I just wasn’t meeting the right lady at that time. So I turned to Our Lady and asked her, “Help me find the perfect wife for me so that we can pray to you and love your Son together more deeply.” I prayed this prayer every day and I started thanking Jesus and Mary for my future wife, and the children I hoped we would blessed with. Three months later, I met my future wife, Bernie.

On my first date I said to her, “Let’s go into the church and pray the Rosary to Our Lady.”

Bernie could have said no, but she said, “Yes, let’s do that” and we knelt down before the statue of Our Lady and prayed the Rosary together. That was the best first date I have ever had and the last first date I ever had! Throughout our courtship we prayed the Rosary everyday to Our Lady and Saint Joseph to help us prepare for the sacrament and to be with us in our marriage. We got married in Rome and it was the best day of our lives. Shortly afterwards, Bernie conceived. When our little girl, Lucy was born, we consecrated her to Our Lady on her Baptism day.

Stormy Days

In the early years of our marriage, I left my job in the corporate banking world. It wasn’t the place for me for many reasons. While I was unemployed, trying to pay the rent and raise a young child, we prayed the Rosary for the right job to come. Eventually, our prayers were answered with a wonderful job for a charity organization called Human Life International. Glory to God and thanks to Our Lady!

We were further delighted when Bernie conceived twin boys, however sixteen weeks into the pregnancy, we rushed into the hospital with Bernie in pain. Scans revealed that the twins wouldn’t survive. But instead of despairing, we turned to Our Lady. She was with us, encouraging us to really lean on her. We prayed that she would intercede for a miraculous healing. The week we spent in hospital, we were joyful, joking and laughing. We were so full of hope and never in despair.

The hospital staff were amazed that this young couple going through such a difficult time were somehow keeping their joy and hope. I would kneel down at the bed and we would pray the Rosary, entreating Our Lady to be with us. We entrusted the twins to the care of Jesus and Mary, but on the 6th day we miscarried, and we entrusted our boys into their loving care. It was a difficult day. We got to hold them and bury them. But Our Lady was with us in our sorrow. When I felt weak, like I was crumbling on the ground, Our Lady held me up. When I saw my wife cry and knew that I had to stay strong, it was Our Lady who helped me.

Signal Grace

While we were still grieving, we went on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. On the first day, we unexpectedly discovered that the Mass celebrant was our very good friend, Father Rory. Although he didn’t know we were there, his homily seemed to be directed at us. He described how a celebrity coped by picking up his Rosary when he tragically lost his young friend. The Rosary took him through that dark place. For us, that was a confirmation—a message from Jesus and Mary; we could get through this difficult time by turning to them and praying the Rosary.

Two years later, we were blessed with another lovely little girl, Gemma. Afterwards, my father took ill and while he was on his death bed, my wife encouraged me to ask him who his favorite saint was. When I asked him, a beautiful smile lit up his face as he answered tenderly, “Mary…. because she is my mother.” I’ll never forget that. It was very near the end of his life and joy just radiated from him at the thought of what awaited him.

 

 

Article is based on the testimony given by Rob O’ Hara in the Shalom World program “Mary My Mother”. To watch the episode visit shalomworld.org/episode/i-am-mummys-boy-rob-ohara

 

 

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