But now Joey was back home in Lindenhurst, Long Island. The trip half way around the world was completed. Before that there had been the trip to Ireland, and the rapidly growing international apostolate.
The year 1977 was a difficult one for Joey. His hectic travel schedule was taking its toll on his health and he became aware he was losing his hearing. There was a shortage of volunteers at the Center to help with the workload of his expanding apostolate and his once prosperous business was in the throes of reorganization. Joey was troubled by what was happening. But in the midst of all this, he was preparing for one of the biggest moments in his life.
Joey was getting married! How did this happen? Where did he find the time? Again God had intervened in Joey’s life in a very special, a most extraordinary way. This was a marriage “made in heaven” and he knew it.
Earlier in the year, Joey had received a sign. He did not know exactly what this one meant; he had received such signs before. As he rode to his business office in the city each day he told his sister, Frances, several times that the name “Luther” and “Michigan” kept coming to his mind. Previously when a particular name continually came to him, he would pray for that person. Eventually he would meet them and whatever their situation was they would usually end up working with him for the Blessed Mother. Weeks went by and this name continued coming to him. It became like a gentle nudge on his shoulder. “But,” recalls Joey, “the person didn’t show up.”
It was a typical summer evening in July 1977, when the annual Joey Lomangino tour of fifty-plus people was assembling at JFK Airport in New York City. Joey began these tours when so many Garabandalists wanted to accompany him to Garabandal. This time it included Marian shrines. As Joey had not had time to check over the passenger list, his secretary, Rosemarie Melunchuk, introduced him to each passenger, in turn, mentioning the state they came from. Half way around the Pan Am conference room where they were assembled, Joey heard, “This is Mary Luther and her daughter, Marilynn, from Michigan.”
“There it is,” thought Joey, Luther and Michigan! But he felt too weary to talk to then, so he decided that later, after he had had a rest, he would persue the story.
“Marilynn Luther came from Detroit, Michigan, the second oldest of the children of Maurice and Mary Luther. Mr. Luther had died in 1960 of cancer at age 51, leaving his wife with their ten children (two were babies in diapers and several were still small). Marilynn, now at age 37, had an excellent position with General Motors Corporation and lived at home with the family. This was her first pilgrimage, though she had traveled abroad previously. Her mother had been an ardent Garabandal promoter since 1964 and longed to visit Garabandal, particularly with Joey’s tour. When Marilynn became aware of her mother’s wish she decided to sell her paid-off car and take her mother on the trip. This brought Marilynn into the Garabandal picture and her first meeting with Joey Lomangino.
When the plane touched down in France, Joey knew that this would be an outstanding tour. All the places he loved were included: the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, St. Bernadette in Nevers, Lourdes, Garabandal, and Fatima. But he did not know that the meeting that had already taken place in JFK Airport would result in an irrevocable change in the direction of his life.
It was at Lourdes that Joey decided to pursue “Luther and Michigan.” Right away he liked Mary Luther, the mother as she talked and laughed with him. She was an Irish mother (her maiden name was Lynch). She told him about her family, her husband who was of German and Irish descent and how, when he had died seventeen years earlier, her whole family had stayed together, and that there were eight still single living at home. She had that deep faith that Joey had seen in Ireland – she knew how to carry her cross. Joey was deeply impressed and continued to talk with her.
On the other hand, the daughter seemed very quiet. “She didn’t talk,” Joey recalls. Actually she, too, was tired and had come on the trip for a good rest and spiritual refreshment. Joey and Marilynn spoke briefly in Lourdes and then the group moved on to Garabandal, where the two became friends. Leaving Garabandal, they attended Mass in Cosio together. The group’s next stop was Fatima. Each evening after dinner, as was the custom, everyone would assemble for a walk and a rosary. This evening perhaps due to the lateness of the hour, only Marilynn stayed with Joey for the rosary. When they had finished, they sat down on a stone bench and began to talk.
“All of a sudden, I knew I was looking at my wife. All the things that had kept me single for so long were lifted and I knew this was the girl who would share the rest of my life. I said, “Marilynn, I want to marry you!”
She was dumbfounded and replied, “Marry you? I don’t even know you!”
“What do you want to know?” Joey said. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”
Marilynn said she wouldn’t say “no” to his proposal – that she would think it over.
The final three days in Fatima were very happy ones. Marilynn had told Joey that she wanted to make her decision in her own home. She wanted to be sure that this was God’s will. Her mother had told Joey that she had perceived he was interested in her daughter and had said, “If you’re holy, Joey, everything works unto good. It’s Marilynn’s decision and whatever she decides is alright with me.”
Back in Michigan
Upon arriving home, Marilynn went to her room and soon fell asleep. About 2:00 a.m. she woke up. All the things Joey had told her were going through her mind. She slipped her hand under her pillow and pulled out her rosary. Praying, she fell asleep again.
Gardening was Marilynn’s hobby. The yard was filled with flowers; there was a shrine to Our Lady with nine Michigan pines. Sleeping, Marilynn began to dream. She found herself looking down upon a beautiful garden; all of the flowers were in bloom at their peak. As she watched, she noticed a gardener, he was transparent – she could see the colors of the flowers, right through his body. He started working around one flower, digging very gently. It was a tall Easter lily with on white bloom at the top. The gardener took the plant in his hands and gently moved it over to another garden, equally as beautiful, but with different flowers – different colors. He placed the lily in the ground that was already prepared, patted the earth securely around it and disappeared. “The last thing I remember in the dream, “ said Marilynn, “was the lily standing just as strong in the new garden as in the old one.” When Marilynn awoke, she knew without a doubt that it was God’s will that she should marry Joey and that everything would work out smoothly.
She called Joey to tell him she would marry him. She told him about her dream. “Joey,” she said, “The lily is me. The old garden is my home and the new one is yours. I am being moved from one place to another and am being shown that it will be a smooth and easy move.” Joey said, “ And the gardener – that’s God.”
They set a date and were married on December 8, 1977 – a special day for them, and for Our Lady – the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Taking Up the International Directorship
After his marriage, Joey took his wife with him to complete his pre-arranged travel schedule. They worked together in Joey’s office, and gave weekend conferences in many parts of the United States.
In May 1978, they toured Ireland, England, and Scotland and were warmly received at the numerous gatherings and lectures.
Great preparations and much prayer preceded the First International Congress on Garabandal held at Lourdes in August of 1978. Twenty-six countries were represented and both Joey and Marilynn were scheduled speakers at this event. The results of that Congress opened a new phase in the spread of the Message.
The activities of the New York Center urgently demanded Joey’s attention. As far back as 1976 it had been suggested by Joey’s spiritual advisor that he should:
1. Channel his energies into his international correspondence to establish new centers throughout the world.
2. Keep in close contact with, and encourage, promoters at home.
3. Update the Garabandal magazine and improve its circulation.
But these changes took time to implement.
July 16, 1978, was the last of Joey’s public conferences. Becoming an involved and active International Director, he found himself more and more behind the desk. Each issue of GARABANDAL Magazine reports on this work, and through Joey’s constant attention, the Message continues to be spread.
At home, Joey’s joy was to be complete with the birth of two sons. Joseph Michael, born May 18, 1979, and John Paul, born September 17, 1981. Needless to say the boys are the “apple of his eye” and they accompany their daddy to special occasions at the New York Center whenever an opportunity presents itself.
Today, Joey’s responsibility for rebuilding his business and providing for his family, no longer affords him the time to travel as he used to do, planting the seeds of the Garabandal Message. But his efforts are well directed toward nurturing those seeds and furthering the work of Garabandal International.
Occasionally, long journeys are taken to establish new centers. One was February 1982, when Joey flew to the other side of the world, to New Zealand. He was welcomed by clergy and laity alike and the hall was filled to capacity on both days to hear the Garabandal speakers.
In December of that year, Joey conducted a family pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico to honor the Blessed Mother, and where both his family and the tour group could view at first hand the miraculous image of the Virgin on Juan Diego’s cloak.
In the fall of 1980, the British Broadcasting Corporation, at the urging of the London Garabandal Center and with Joey’s support and encouragement, produced a documentary on Garabandal. The result was an award winning thirty-two minute film that has already been shown three times by the BBC throughout the United Kingdom and also on national TV in New Zealand. Private showings have been held in the United States and other countries.
In Austrailia, things were not a standstill either. The Austrailian government’s official television network, ABC, sent producer Peter Wilkinson to Joey in New York and to Garabandal, to film a segment for the Austrailian “60 Minutes” program. “After the telecast, the switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree,” reported John Leriou , Austrailian Garabandal promoter, “and we ran out of every piece of literature we had.”
In February 1985, Joey attended the Austrailian National Conference on Garabandal. It was held in Canberra, the capital city, and participants came from all parts of Austrailia, Papua New Guinea and Tonga in the South Pacific.
A CONSOLING DREAM
It was early in 1965, Joey was at home in Lindenhurst lying on the couch saying his rosary. Meditating, these words kept coming to him – dream – trees – Garabandal – dream – Garabandal – trees – dream. . . .His mind went back to May, 1949, he had just been registered at Blind School.
He was unhappy in this strange place, with his blindness–he didn’t want it. He was alone, he missed his family, and he knew they were suffering. Joey had been put in the infirmary for orientation. He waited, he listened, he knew he was alone. After a while, he got up, began to take a few steps, then a few more–the door–way. Cautiously, he made his way down the hallway but then, without realizing it, passed through an open exit door and fell down a flight of stairs. Not wanting to cause an alarm, he quickly crawled up the stairs and clung to the wall searching for the doorway opening. Hurt, scared, lonely and frustrated, he laid on his bed, took out his rosary and then began to cry. He cried himseld to sleep.
Joey recalls this dream:
“I saw what I thought was a beautiful golf course, lush green grass, rolling hills, a clump of trees behind me and I was standing there, looking up. There was something going on up in the heavens. I had my eyes back–and they were blue.”
“When I awoke I felt comforted by what I saw. Although I was scared, I knew in time I would be all right. This thought substained me as I started a new life in a blind world and I had the courage to make the most of every opportunity that would come to me.”
It was only 1965, after all those years, that Joey was to connect this consoling dream with the Garabandal events.
*Joey remembers his consoling dream. It was 16 years later when he realized that the place in the dream was Garabandal.