Posted March 19, 2010:
The Best Mechanics You Will Ever Have

by Richard Ziegman.

A friend of mine and of Madonna House recently sent me the October 2009 issue of Restoration which had the beautiful coverage of the life of Albert Osterberger, who died in June. That issue had a deep impact on me and led to an event which I will tell you about.

I am a former applicant (the equivalent of a novice) who spent nearly a year at Madonna House but found that I was unable to live the vocation. Still, Madonna House changed my life forever. I always carry it—the people and the life—with me, and Madonna House spirituality has sunk its roots deep into my heart.

Albert was director general of men when I was there, and though I didn’t really know him, he knew me.

This was evident every time I met with him. He told me what he saw in me and how much he had seen me grow but even more important than that, he encouraged me to listen to hear the voice of Jesus speaking within me.

The day I received the October Restoration, I read through it and then I went back and slowly re-read those wonderful quotes from Albert in the article "Depending on St. Joseph."

Those quotes were so profound that they became my prayer that evening. In fact, they were dancing in my mind and heart all through the night. In the morning as I got ready for work, they were repeating themselves in my mind.

It was a cold day, below freezing. When I got to my car, I saw that I had left the dome light on all night. The car would not start; the battery was dead.

As usual, I had given myself just enough time to get to Mass and then to work. That doesn’t allow time for the unexpected.

Ordinarily in a situation like that, I would panic. That day, however, I was completely at peace. There was also a kind of burning in my chest, a kind of awareness that something bigger than me was happening.

I ran and got my battery charger and hooked it to the battery. I knew this was futile because it takes eight hours to re-charge the battery, but at 6:30 a.m., it was my only option.

I tried to start the car again. It was no use; the battery was still dead. Still I was at peace. Albert’s words immediately came to mind:

"Do not forget to depend on Our Lady and St. Joseph. They are the best mechanics you will ever have."

I understood then that this whole trial was allowed because Albert was trying to get my attention—Albert, who had done auto repair for much of his life in Madonna House. How moving it was that he had remembered me!

So, I prayed to Holy Mother Mary and St. Joseph. "Would you two give me a hand here? It would be nothing for you to give a little charge to my engine so it will start."

Although I was fully aware that Albert was already near me and part of this whole thing, I asked for his help, too. "I belong to your family, Albert. Would you also pray for me here?"

Then I quoted to the three of them from the readings of the day which I had just heard on TV: "… let it be done to me according to my faith."

I turned the key and the car started! So I went joyfully on my way, giving thanks. My heart was so full.

Then, as if to confirm everything that had happened, the priest at Mass announced that it was the feast of St. John Damascene, Madonna House’s patron of mechanics and broken vehicles!

What all this says to me is that Albert is already in heaven, and that I am still part of the Madonna House family.

Compared to the long, faithful vocations at Madonna House, my short year there was only a blip on the radar screen, easily forgotten by most people. But, while I was there, Albert loved me, and, now he has remembered me.

After his years of suffering with Alzheimer’s, it seems that this is what he is doing now. He is remembering.


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