Child of Miracles: True Story of the Padre of Guadalcanal
by Rev. Frederic Gehring and Robert Thomas Fertig
Amazon Digital Services LLC

"I knelt by the child’s bedside, placed a ‘Miraculous’ Medal around her neck, and commended her to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Christ, the Divine Physician."

During World War II, a gravely wounded little girl is brought to a Catholic priest in the “infested jungle called Guadalcanal.” He and his Navy cohort combine sincere prayers with medical help. Against a backdrop of savage warfare, the six-year-old’s life is miraculously saved. Father/Navy Captain Frederic Gehring and his Navy buddies guard the diminutive patient, who rarely speaks, never laughs. Gehring decides to name her Patsy Li. which is also a miracle because, though he has no way of knowing it, that is the girl’s real name. He personally escorts Patsy to a nearby orphanage. An article about this remarkable rescue appears years later in the New York Times and is read by the girl’s mother (yet another miracle). The contact between Ruth Li and the “Padre of Guadalcanal” eventually reunites mother and daughter.

Author Fertig has created what he calls this “derivative work” about his uncle, “Father Freddy,” drawing on a book by Gehring published in 1962 with appropriate additional information bringing it up to the present. The “Padre of Guadalcanal,” the first naval chaplain to receive the Legion of Merit medal, attributed all positive occurrences to the Almighty, but Fertig believes that Gehring himself helped bring about many of the blessings surrounding Patsy’s life.

Reading the account by Father Gehring is inspiring. Readers will admire his presence as a priest in two significant war zones of his era, first in China in the 1930s, then in the Pacific in WWII, working tirelessly to save lives, pray for the wounded, provide sacraments for the dead, and maintain a sense of hope among the people who believed in him as well as in the spiritual creed he so modestly embodied. Fertig’s commendable efforts bring a story of hope and spiritual courage to a new generation of readers.

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