English couple didn't know of Detroit's famed saint, but a local man's introduction — and timely help — changed that forever
DETROIT — What began as a pleasant cruise in April 2019 turned into a nightmare for a couple from England — but with the power of prayer through Blessed Solanus Casey came hope and comfort.
Steve and Jane Trotman were expecting sunshine and great memories when they left port in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Soon after setting sail, however, Steve began feeling ill.
They first believed it was food poisoning, but then “it became evident that it was much more serious,” Jane said. In fact, it was far worse than they expected.
“Steve was admitted into the hospital on the ship, where he was diagnosed with sepsis,” a serious infection in the bloodstream that sometimes can prove fatal, Jane said. Arrangements were made for Steve to be taken off the ship at the first port; by that time, he was feeling extremely ill and very frightened.
The Trotmans looked to their travel coordinators — John Hale, owner of Northville-based Corporate Travel Service, and Maureen Soens, cruise operations manager — for support. Both came to the sick bay to see them.
“When we arrived, Mr. Trotman was pretty sick,” Hale said. “We wanted to provide friendship to them in this crisis. As we were sitting there, I asked if they were people of faith. Mrs. Trotman replied, ‘We used to be,’ but her inflection and kind way of replying told me that she was open to faith in God.”
“They asked if we would like to pray with them and they told us about Fr. Solanus,” Jane Trotman said. “We were feeling very desperate and frightened. John and Maureen gave Steve and me great solace, comfort and a feeling of hope that we were not alone.”
Jane admitted to being skeptical but said, “They asked if we would like to pray with them and they told us about Fr. Solanus. We were feeling very desperate and frightened. John and Maureen gave Steve and me great solace, comfort and a feeling of hope that we were not alone.”
Hale said he drew inspiration from Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron's pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, and asked the Trotmans whether they would like to pray together. “Mr. Trotman enthusiastically said, ‘Yes,’” Hale recalled. “So, together the four of us joined hands and prayed.”
It was a memory he will never forget.
“It was a beautiful and consoling moment of grace for which I am so thankful,” Hale said. And it didn’t end there. “The Trotmans asked if Maureen and I would return, and of course we said we would.”
Hale felt like there was more he could do. “When I returned to my cabin, I was looking in my briefcase for something that might help them,” he said.
Hale said he always carries a Blessed Solanus relic badge — a piece of cloth touched to the tomb of Blessed Solanus — but was surprised also to find a pamphlet about Detroit's saint.
“So, we brought the badge and pamphlet down on our next visit,” Hale said. “We explained who Blessed Solanus was, his humble and faithful way and how he always thanked God ahead of time for his prayer request.”
Steve began to stabilize by the time the ship arrived at St. Maarten, where he was transferred to a hospital.
Jane was extremely thankful.
“John gave me a little leaflet on Fr. Solanus, which became my constant companion during the next week that Steve was in hospital in St. Maarten,” Jane said. “We both prayed daily to Blessed Solanus for his help, support and for peace.”
Steve recovered in the hospital, and the Trotmans returned to England. Steve has regained the nearly 30 pounds he lost, and he continues to improve.
Through the experience, the Trotmans and Hale became close friends and remain in contact with one another.
“By then, we were fast friends and formed an amazing bond in Christ,” Hale said. “The Trotmans inspired Maureen and me in every way. I remember watching the ambulance depart the ship and praying through the intercession of Blessed Solanus with sadness and a firm belief that he would recover. And he did, thanks be to God and the intercession of Blessed Solanus Casey.”
Although Steve still has some tiring days, Jane said, they take nothing for granted. “Steve says that each day now has much more value, and realizes that things can change in a heartbeat,” Jane said. “He firmly believes that Fr. Solanus has played a big part in that and is grateful for the love and support that has come from John and Maureen.”
The Trotmans, who have been married for 41 years, continue to learn more about Blessed Solanus, thanks to Hale.
“John kindly sent a book about Blessed Solanus’ life and included a couple of pocketbook pictures with a piece of his cloth, which we both keep close to us in our wallet,” Jane said. “This continues to give us both comfort.”
Currently, they are reading The Porter of Saint Bonaventure’s, a biography of Blessed Solanus Casey written by James Patrick Derum.
Although their cruise was not the trip the Trotmans expected, they came out of it with something they will never forget.
“This experience with John, Maureen and Blessed Solanus coming into our lives … we now believe that our faith had just been ‘postponed,’” Jane said. “Steve thinks that the outcome, without the help from John and Maureen and the intercession from Blessed Solanus, may have been very different, and for that will be eternally grateful.”