Mary Undoer of Knots to the rescue

Published 8:51 am Wednesday, October 4, 2023

By Steve Sticker

For those who believe, no explanation is necessary.  For those who don’t believe, no explanation is possible.

At 6:20 am last Thursday, September 28, I received a text from Fr. Joe Tonos, 18 years pastor of St. John’s, spiritual adviser and friend, now in Jackson – “FYI, today is the feast day of Mary Undoer of Knots.”  YAY – I didn’t know!!

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While St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church – Oxford was closed for CoVID-19 from March 17 to June 15, 2020, Fr. Joe commissioned Pearl River Studios of Jackson to install several stained-glass windows. One was the stunningly beautiful Mary Undoer of Knots window to the right of the altar and is extremely significant to me as on Thursday, June 22, 2017, she saved my life. 

Every year in June, St. John’s graciously hosts a “Volunteer Dinner/Supper” held at the posh Inn at Ole Miss to thank we who serve the church during the year.  On June 7, 2017, along with a delicious supper,  Fr. Joe gave us a Novena booklet that I had never heard of, “Mary Undoer of Knots.”  The next day, I read that while studying in Germany in the 1980s, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) brought this powerful novena to Argentina.  

Along with a Rosary, for the next nine days, I prayed this compelling novena – “Dearest Holy Mother Mary, I give you this knot that torments and makes me unhappy and believe you can undo this knot because your son, Jesus grants you everything.”

My “knot” was two-year dizziness experienced upon quickly standing or stressed and prayed this novena to Mary for help.  Hero Dr. Mona Castle, who I see every three months for a checkup, was puzzled because my lab numbers were nearly perfect.

Five days after completing this novena before that June 22 checkup, along with dizziness, I began having breathing difficulties.  That day I felt great, but when nurse Cherry Craven checked my pulse, it was 39!  Not believing this, she tested her own finger – ok, back on me, 39!  Then rapidly – EKG indicated that although my arteries were clear, the top of my heart was not electrically communicating with the bottom, pacemaker needed – EMT’s called! 

Feeling great, I said I’d drive myself to the old Baptist Hospital emergency room a few hundred yards away and Dr Castle chillingly said, “You won’t make it!” 

In the back of the EMT ambulance, I felt totally peaceful and told God (as I did in Vietnam) if he was done with me on Earth, I was ready to go – then an EMT interrupted this peace while I was ready to sail to heaven by saying, “In my many years as an EMT, I can count on one hand the number of persons in your condition who were alive at this point…”  

Twenty minutes later, my new hero, Dr. Mark Campbell (Stern Cardiovascular), inserted a pacemaker that saved my life.

Later in recovery, Dr. Mark said, “Procedure could not have gone better; you are healthy as a horse and will be around for a very long time.”  Nice to hear from a heart surgeon…. 

To this date there are no issues thanks to Dr. Castle and Dr. Mark – but I attribute my novena to Mary Undoer of Knots for coordinating all this with her son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, to saving my life… Amen?   

Steve Stricker is an Oxford resident, received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, and can be reached at