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Faith-filled road to recovery


Family, friends and supporters of a young boy who suffered life-threatening injuries when he was hit by a train earlier this year have joined together to celebrate his miraculous recovery at an emotion-charged thanksgiving Mass.

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Rhyle Abiado, whose family are members of the Gawler parish, was struck by a train at the Tambelin railway station at Evanston Gardens on February 28 while on his way to school at Trinity College. Suffering critical head injuries, a damaged spleen and lung injuries, his parents Lucila and Marvin and younger sister Davie, 5, were told to prepare themselves that he might not survive.

However, despite the odds the now 12 year old has made a remarkable recovery and on June 30 was discharged from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Last week he returned to school and while medical appointments will continue well into the future, his parents describe his recovery as a “miracle”.

Speaking to The Southern Cross during a visit to the WCH for Rhyle to attend a hydrotherapy session, Mrs Abiado said there was no doubt that the ordeal had strengthened their belief in the power of prayer.

“On the day when the accident happened my head was just blank and I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to think. You are just full of worry and of what is going to happen next,” she recalled.

“When we first got to the hospital and they were scanning his head to see how bad the injury was, me and my husband were sitting outside in the waiting area. I was calling family to tell them what had happened, but Marvin was so quiet. I wanted him to say something and he said, be quiet I am praying.

“I did not think of that! I was just so worried and wanting support, I was so lost and I thought, why don’t I do that too?

“So praying became the big thing for us to do. I don’t have a particular saint I pray to, I just prayed to Jesus and asked for guidance and strength…and that’s God will would be done – whatever the outcome.”

Family members in the Philippines, along with extended family and friends in Adelaide, also began praying for Rhyle, who was initially in a coma and on life support.

Rhyle with his mother Lucila Abiado at St Mary’s Church.

In the first few days after the accident one of Mrs Abiado’s cousins, Meriam Camado, suggested to hospital chaplain, Fr Peter Rozitis, that it would be wonderful if they could hold a Mass for family and friends of the boy at the nearby St Mary’s Church in North Adelaide.

Preparations were quickly put in place and every week thereafter Fr Rozitis celebrated Mass at 6pm each Friday for Rhyle’s supporters, so they could join together in faith, support each other and pray for him.

“The support was overwhelming and there were up to 70 people there sometimes,” Fr Rozitis said.

“They kept coming every week and you could see the accident had a big impact on the rest of the family. One of the impressive things was the participation at the Mass as there were always people there to do the readings, musicians would come and play and sing hymns.”

Much to the delight of medical staff, family and friends, as the weeks and months went by Rhyle started to slowly improve. He came out of the coma, was able to breathe by himself, could open his eyes, make small movements, communicate with hand signals, and so it continued. Throughout it all, the numbers of people praying for him continued to grow.

At the request of Dianne Schaefer, the Anglican hospital chaplain for the post-surgical Kate Hill Ward, parishioners at St Peter’s Cathedral started to pray for Rhyle. Likewise, Fr Jose Pazheparambil SDB had the Gawler parish praying for him, as were members of the Trinity College community. The congregation at St Mary’s Church was also onboard as many members had become friendly with the Abiados and their supporters, who were attending the Sunday Mass before visiting Rhyle in hospital.

Fr Rozitis said he felt privileged to have been able to accompany and support the family at such a traumatic time, to witness the strength of their faith and be there to see Rhyle’s recovery. He added it was a special moment when Rhyle started attending the Friday night Masses, particularly the first time when he was able to get out of his wheelchair and walk to communion.

The thanksgiving Mass on July 8 was a very emotional time for everyone who had been part of Rhyle’s journey over the past five months, he added.

Mrs Abiado said the family was “overwhelmed and humbled by the support” shown to them by so many people and the experience had “changed our perspective on life”.

“It gave me peace and comfort in those early days to go to those Friday Masses,” she said.

“Our friends also said that the accident ‘happened’ to them as well as us, and their faith has been strengthened. They say they are now praying – not just out of habit – but praying more with gratitude. It was a wake-up call for everyone.

“Prayer is so powerful and he had lots of people praying for him.

“This has definitely strengthened our faith and we feel more blessed.”

When Rhyle was discharged from hospital, Mrs Abiado said the staff organised a party for him and there were “a few tears shed”.

“We are just so happy to have him home and we are forever grateful to everyone for their support.”

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