Seeing the Miracles that Lie beyond Pain
Author Interview with Marion Lee, Of Moose and Miracles
by Lisa M. Hendey
We all know people who have survived seemingly insurmountable tragedy. We wonder at their strength, their ability to continue living through circumstances that would stop most of the rest of us dead in our tracks. For these types of individuals, one common denominator is frequently faith, which can often be an inspirational stepping stone for others.
Of Moose and Miracles (CMJ Publishers, May 2002, paperback, 175 pages) is the story of a family whose faith helped them through what is surely one of life’s greatest heartbreaks: the death of a child, Kraig Frick. Written by Marion Lee, the story that unfolds before us is told in the voice of Karyl Frick, Kraig’s mother. In Karyl’s words, we meet her son, the youngest of seven children and learn of his fatal diagnosis. Author Lee describes her book as follows:
“Of Moose and Miracles is a personal glimpse into the deep faith of a family nurtured in love, There are seven children and the youngest, Kraig, is stricken with an inoperable brain stem tumor. During Kraig’s illness, Divine Providence leads the family into the path of a seminarian, a late vocation. It doesn’t take long to realize that a mysterious and wondrous plan is afoot. Through the transcendent power of God, a partnership is forged in time and in eternity that fortified the faith of the newly ordained priest, Fr. Jacques LaPointe, enabling him to move mountains in his ministry. During his first assignment in Japan, Fr. Jacques single-handedly faced the “Goliath” of child pornography, carrying the battle to the Emperor himself!”
Lee’s book has the feel of a compelling religious novel, but its impact lies in the fact that this is a real story that happened to a real family. With compassionate empathy, she gives voice to a mother’s love, pain and ultimate triumph over what surely is any parent’s worst nightmare. The Frick family is a shining model for any family facing personal difficulties. Their ability to find the miracles present in Kraig’s life and passing offer tremendous hope and encouragement.
Of Moose and Miracles is a quick read, but an incredible learning experience. I am pleased to share the following interview with author Marion Lee and to highly recommend Of Moose and Miracles.
Q: Marion Lee, author of Of Moose and Miracles, please introduce yourself to our readers and share a bit of your own faith background.
A: I use my maiden name, Marion Lee, as my pen name. I have been married to Edward Levandowski for 43 years. We have three daughters and four beautiful grandchildren. Writing is a gift that came very late in life for me. I just celebrated my 70th birthday! As a young woman, I loved to write poetry for close friends and family on special occasions. It never occurred to me that my writing was a gift. However, at the age of 43, God blessed me with a miracle. Her name is Katie and she defied all medical odds by surviving a pregnancy that was doomed at the outset. One of the doctors at the University of Pennsylvania suggested I write a story about Katie’s birth. It was a catharsis for me and, in my ignorance, I stuck it in an envelope, sent it to Good Housekeeping and they bought it immediately! That was in 1980 and “A Miracle Called Katie” was published in l982. Thus began my humble writing career.
In 1988, I had my first book, “On the Palm of His Hand” published by St. Bede’s. Once again, it was someone else’s idea that I write a book about the death of a beloved childhood friend describing how God touched our lives during her illness.
It was after the birth of Katie and before the death of Phyllis that I began my spiritual journey. The miracle of Katie’s birth demanded a response and I suddenly found myself saying, “I want to know who Jesus is!” Mind you, I was a lifelong Catholic, but I had no heart knowledge of God nor did I have any idea of the depth of His love for each and every one of us.
Between the two books I had published, I wrote a lot of short stories and they too were published in a variety of Catholic magazines. I am grateful to God for this unexpected blessing in my life but, more importantly, for His teaching me that all life and every good thing in life comes from Him.
Q: How did you connect with Karyl Frick and the Frick family and what compelled you to take on this project?
A: I worked in a Catholic bookstore in Dallas and a colleague of mine kept insisting that I had to write a story about Karyl Frick and her son. I had never met Karyl and I was very reluctant to contact a perfect stranger but my friend’s persistence wore me out. Finally, I called Karyl but we couldn‘t arrange a meeting at that time. Then, one day, Karyl walked into the store and my friend excitedly took her by the arm and led her to my desk. Whatever fears I may have had evaporated immediately. There was an instant rapport and as she spoke about Kraig, I knew it was a story that had to be shared.
Q: In my reading of the book, I was touched so deeply by the telling of the story in Karyl’s voice--how did you come to the conclusion to tell the story of Kraig’s life in his mother’s voice as opposed to in narrative form? Was Karyl’s retelling of Kraig’s story to you a difficult or emotional experience?
A: I decided at the outset to tell the story from Karyl’s point of view. My feeling was it would be more interesting for the reader. The dialogue was easy because Karyl and I are on the same wave length. The difficult part was putting the story together in sequence and, for that, I credit the Holy Spirit. It was a heart-wrenching, emotional experience for both of us but it was also the beginning of a deep and lasting friendship.
Q: Could you please share “Kraig’s Prayer” with our readers and say a few words about it?
A: Kraig’s prayer, “Lord, please help the people who need it most,” began as a second grade class assignment before he became ill. To this day, the family recites the prayer, along with Grace before meals. After Kraig died, the prayer became the anthem for the Kraig Frick Memorial Fund, a fund set up in Haiti for the explicit purpose of helping poor and destitute children. The first donations came from Kraig himself! Karyl had given him an empty jar while he was sick and every time Kraig took his medicine, he was rewarded with some coins. Those coins became the seedbed for the Memorial Fund. After Kraig’s death, his classmates took up the challenge by adopting the Fund as a Lenten project. They recited Kraig’s prayer faithfully and had it printed on all the flyers posted in school promoting the Memorial Fund.
Q: Karyl’s deep spiritual life shines through in this story, particularly her devotions to recently canonized St. Padre Pio and Blessed Marie of the Incarnation. Could you please share about these two intercessors and the role they played in the Frick’s story?
A: Karyl was introduced to the intercession of Blessed Marie of the Incarnation through a personal friend, an Ursuline nun. The very first time Karyl met Jacques LaPointe (while he was a seminarian) they were amazed to discover that both of them were pleading for a miracle from Blessed Marie. Believe it or not, Karyl had never heard about Padre Pio until the day Kraig made his First Communion! A woman from her parish came up to her in church, handed her a prayer to Padre Pio, and shared the fact that she was praying to Padre Pio for a miracle cure for Kraig. As soon as she was able, Karyl went to Sacred Heart Bookstore to gather as much information as she could about Padre Pio. He soon became a major figure in her arsenal of prayer warriors for Kraig.
Q: In the book, you mention Project Oasis? Can you please tell us about this entity? Can readers support their work or learn more about their needs?
A: Project Oasis was started in Tokyo in 1997 by a group of parishioners of Fr. Jacques. These parishioners were ex-patriots working for American Corporations in Japan. Their efforts were so successful, when they were sent back home, they continued the work here in the United States. It is a volunteer, non-profit organization that helps underprivileged and at-risk children, and works against their exploitation. It also is dedicated to improving education, health and economic conditions of children. It partners with and supports agencies and libraries that have vision, strategies and human resources, but lack financial means. Their involvement with supplying books for children led to their annual Book Award and Kraig’s story seemed to them a natural selection! Project Oasis cooperates with other organizations in the U.S. as well as Japan, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and in over 12 developing nations around the world. For further information, you can go to www.projectoasis.org.
Q: You mention in your acknowledgements to the book having the opportunity to interview Father Jacques LaPointe for your work. Would you please give us a brief update on Father LaPointe’s work in Japan and his current activities? Is the “Moose Team” still at work?
A: Father Jacques’ work in Japan was remarkable. As I said, he managed to get the Japanese Diet (the equivalent of our Congress) to pass a law against child pornography. The Japanese had tried for ten years to pass such legislation without success. With the spiritual support of Kraig, Jacques managed to do this in eight months! Father Jacques regards Kraig as his priestly partner. He never tackles a problem without asking for Kraig’s help from heaven. When Father Jacques returned to the US, he was stationed at an inner city parish in New York City. From there, he was sent to Silver Spring, Maryland. In Maryland, he began an outreach to the poor, mostly immigrants. At the present time, he lives in New Brunswick, Canada and is working in tandem with the Canadian government assisting with the enormous influx of immigrants fleeing Africa. The “Moose Team” is alive and well and still helping those in most need!
Q: Clearly, a strongly held faith helped sustain the Frick family during Kraig’s illness and passing! How has the Frick family been able to move on since Kraig’s passing and how are they doing today?
A: The Frick family was and continues to be a close-knit group. Four of their children are now married. Karyl and Mike have been blessed with four grandchildren. Mike recently retired and is busier than ever. Both Mike and Karyl volunteer their time and talents to the Missionaries of Charity in Dallas. With a large family, they also spend a great deal of time traveling and participating in all the family celebrations, i.e., Baptisms, Birthdays, Holy Communions, etc. Kraig’s spirit is very much alive and his presence continues to be felt at every family gathering. A strong faith is the anchor of their lives. Daily communion, adoration and a deep prayer life certainly brought them through an unimaginable loss, but I also believe it restored their zest and joy for living. The Fricks are as normal as “blueberry pie” and so much fun to be around.
Q: Marion Lee, author of Of Moose and Miracles, thank you for your time and participation in this interview. Are there any additional thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?
A: Karyl and I have received outstanding response to our little book. People’s minds and hearts have been deeply touched. Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of this was a phone call I received not long after the book was published. A friend of mine called me long-distance to tell me about a troubled young girl who had already arranged to have an abortion, but after reading Kraig’s story, her heart was changed! Praise God! We continue to hear inspiring stories from people all over the country, people who have taken the time to write or call to express the impact Kraig has made on their lives.
For more information on Of Moose and Miracles visit
Lisa M. Hendey is a mother of two sons, webmaster of numerous web sites, including http://www.catholicmom.com and http://www.christiancoloring.com, and an avid reader of Catholic literature. Visit her at http://www.lisahendey.com for more information.