By Melissa Baroldi, principal, St. Barbara School     12/4/2018

“With God, all things are possible,” has been a scripture verse that many at St. Barbara School have held dear and have held to be true. Over the past few months, members of the St. Barbara School community have faced tragedy. Through their struggles, they have found strength and healing in the Lord.

In June of 2018, beloved Science teacher Susan Dixon had not been feeling well. She was admitted to the hospital where her health rapidly declined, causes still unknown. Upon being admitted to the ICU, she fell into a coma and remained in that state for a number of days. Her body began to shut down, causing her extremities not to receive the blood flow that they needed. Susan shares how her faith remained strong, even during her coma.

“In a non-Catholic hospital, one with no crucifixes or connection to our faith,” shared Susan, “I kept seeing a cross on the wall. It had a push button underneath with words I couldn’t see. I was too weak for so long to get up and read those words. I became fixated on those words. After a while, I was able to get up and read the words. They said, ‘One more chance’. So I pushed the button, and I woke up.” She awoke days later to learn that she would be losing her fingers and the majority of her toes due to this illness. She adds, “I never saw a light, I never saw St. Peter. But I saw the cross on the wall.” Through it all, Susan was surrounded by love and prayers of her family and friends. Students, faculty, and staff prayed for her every morning during all-school prayer. The support of her home community and faith community was overwhelming, and continues to stay strong today. We are blessed that she was able to return to teaching this year, becoming a true inspiration to our students and staff.

Fourth grade student Victoria Gonzalez experienced what she thought was a severe headache back in August of 2018. Victoria, her mother and siblings all have a condition called Von Hippel Lindau (VHL). Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL) is a hereditary condition associated with tumors arising in multiple organs. Including blood vessel tumors of the brain, spinal cord, and eye. She was quickly taken to CHOC Children’s Hospital. Studies revealed that she had two tumors, one in the brainstem and another in the spine. Doctors performed a dangerous but necessary surgery the next day. During surgery, Victoria suffered a stroke resulting in partial paralysis of the entire left side of her body. She underwent intense physical therapy and was happy to be able to return to school this month.

“I would wake up at night scared when I was in rehab,” tells Victoria, “Sometimes at 3 a.m. I would ask my mom to pray with me, and she would. I would feel better and fall back to sleep.” When asked why she felt prayer was such an integral part of her recovery, Victoria said, “I pray every night and every morning to get better. And every day my mom says things are easier. I pray that when I have more tests, or when my brother and sister have tests, that we are ok and won’t need more surgery.” The St. Barbara School and Parish community also included her in daily prayer and participated in fundraising efforts to help with the cost of her treatments and possible future treatments. Salvador Gonzalez, Victoria’s father, stated, “My family thanks you with all our heart for your charity and we ask our God to multiply your generosity in blessings.”

Faith can move mountains and help many overcome obstacles. The power of prayer is something no one can dismiss, because with God, all things are truly possible and He will bring miracles! We at St. Barbara School are so grateful to God for the gifts of Mrs. Susan Dixon and Victoria Gonzalez. They are true models of goodness, faith, love, and determination. Their presence on campus shows the miraculous healing power of our Lord.