Rescue of miners in Chile: Did God and his mother have a hand in it? Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Nov. 04, 2010 -- 12:00 AM

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A woman I know in the Diocese of Madison e-mailed me a message after the rescue of the miners in Chile. She felt there were many religious aspects to this situation that couldn’t be ignored.

She pointed out these facts:

• Accident occurred:  August 5 (feast of Our Lady of the Snows)

• Found they were alive: August 22 (feast of Queenship of Mary)

• Last miner rescued: October 13 (feast of Our Lady of Fatima)

She also noted that the number of miners — 33 — is the supposed age of Christ when he died.

A lot of coincidences? Or did God and his mother have a hand in this rescue?

Families had faith

Even a reporter who covered the Chilean mine rescue for The Associated Press talked about the faith aspect of this rescue. He said the miners’ families always believed their loved ones were alive, and that belief was based on faith. The reporter’s observations were included in a story carried by Catholic News Service (CNS).

“Many of these families had faith when much of the rest of Chile probably didn’t, from the August 5 collapse until authorities discovered (the miners) were alive on August 23,” said the reporter, Peter Prengaman, 35, a member of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Atlanta, Ga.

Prengaman traveled to Copiapo, Chile, in late August and early September, then returned again to cover the October rescue. In an e-mail interview with Catholic News Service, he said family members often spoke of their faith and “of a belief that they would see their loved ones again.”

“The Catholic presence, and faith in general, was everywhere,” he told CNS. “The family members wore crosses and had religious altars dedicated to their trapped family members. They prayed constantly, and attended Masses that were given at the mine on Sundays.”

Prengaman said he had more of a chance to get to know the miners’ families when he went to Copiapo in August, before the media descended on the town for the rescue. “These are mining families that live with the reality that their loved ones could be killed or injured,” he said. They had “a very salt-of-the-earth quality about them. They were patient, open to letting reporters into their lives, and had a deep faith in God.”

He said “covering the rescue was a sort of magical, mystical experience that I will never forget.” Prengaman added that he often prayed during the ordeal.

Sees hand of God

A Houston man who helped save the miners also saw the hand of God in the rescue mission. CNS reported that Greg Hall was preparing to serve as an acolyte for Mass at Christ the Redeemer Church in Houston, Texas, when an associate contacted him about a “banging on the pipe.” It was Day 17 after the Chilean mine collapsed on 33 miners.

A representative from Drillers Supply International — a company owned by Hall and his wife —was updating him on the task assigned to the company’s crew: drilling through more than 2,000 feet of rock down into the gold and copper mine.

“At that time, we thought we were just drilling to try to get a video feed to let (the miners’) families know they had perished,” Greg Hall said. “Then we found out that all 33 of them were alive.”

“I talked to a lot of people, and this was the most challenging drill I have done in 25 years,” Hall said. “I firmly believe God drilled that hole.”

Coincidences or the intervention of God? I know what my answer is. We can never underestimate the power of faith and prayer and God’s response to them in our lives.