The Christophers: ‘Jesus Spoke Through My Daughter’
Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M.
Last December, Deacon Joe Mantineo fell to the floor and hit his head after having a stroke at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Maywood, New Jersey. Seconds later, his pastor was at his side, and Joe asked for a blessing before losing consciousness and being rushed to the hospital. A few weeks later, tests showed that his body had suffered no effects from the stroke, but the incident and subsequent examinations revealed that he had stage 4 kidney failure.
“The truly miraculous thing is that I did not have any effects of the stroke,” says Deacon Joe. “I didn’t have any paralysis [or] speech difficulties. My memory wasn’t affected. It was as if I had never hit the ground. But I came to realize that the Lord does work in strange and mysterious ways, and it was His way of letting me know that my kidneys were failing.”
With an O-positive blood type, which is the most in demand blood type for organ transplants, Joe was faced with a potentially long wait for a new kidney. However, his daughter Lisa offered to donate one of her kidneys to him. At first, Joe didn’t feel comfortable accepting this offer, but with a loving wife, four children, and eight grandchildren, he felt called to be present for milestones still to come. Lisa’s kidney gave him the best chance of survival, so he accepted her generous offer.
On April 21st of this year, Joe and Lisa arrived at the hospital, kissed each other goodbye, and went into separate operating rooms. Lisa’s gift provided Joe with a life-saving kidney transplant. Recovering in the hospital afterwards, Joe recalls the tremendous gratitude he felt towards his daughter and how he realized that she had come to embody for him the answer to Christ’s call for us to be generous to those in need. “I’m alive,” he says, “because Jesus spoke through my daughter.”
The story of Deacon Joe’s survival, the fortuitous way in which his dire condition was discovered, and the subsequent generosity of his daughter demonstrates how God works through our circumstances and relationships to bring about the most extraordinary outcomes. Today, Joe is looking forward to having more time with his family and continuing his journey as a deacon, a journey in which he leads a Padre Pio prayer group at his parish and has brought pilgrims on life-changing journeys to Italy, Ireland, and the Holy Land.
Regarding his privilege to serve at Mass as a deacon, Joe says, “It’s a thrill to be at the altar.” He recalls special Masses he has assisted at in his travels as being deeply spiritual and profound events, Masses at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Saint Peter’s Basilica, San Giovani Rotundo, and Knock, Ireland.
Joe’s journey shows how faith can prepare us for difficult trials. His life as a servant of God instilled within him a calm and loving heart, enabling him to help raise a loving family and ultimately opening him up to the gifts God showered upon him through the generosity of his daughter Lisa who, we are proud to say, worked for The Christophers many years ago. Her gift to her father exemplifies lighting a candle in the darkness.
Looking to the future, Joe says, “God has really been good, and I’m on this fantastic journey, but it’s not finished yet. I think that this transplant is another aspect of the miraculous power of God and His love for each of us.”
For a free copy of The Christophers’ BE GOD’S HANDS AND HEART, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org