Prayers, Rosary help Brockton couple endure Mumbai terrorist attack
Prayers of family and friends and the rosary helped a Brockton couple endure a 15-hour ordeal waiting to be rescued from their room in the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, India, which came under siege from terrorists Nov. 26.
William and Geraldine Stadelmann were on their last day of a three-week tour of India, which included a visit to the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle in the city of Chennai, formerly known as Madras. The following day, the couple was to depart with a smaller tour going to Nepal to see Mount Everest.
The India-leg of the trip concluded with an afternoon reception on the hotel’s ground floor for the tourists, many of whom William Stadelmann said stayed downstairs for dinner, while he and his
wife returned to their room to pack for their 4 a.m. departure for the airport.
William and Geraldine Stadelmann are pictured in a snapshot from their November trip to India. The couple were guests at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, India when it came under siege by terrorists Nov. 26.
“At the party we were all saying how safe we felt in India,” he said.
At or around 10 p.m. there was a loud explosion.
“I thought it was fireworks,” he said.
Next, came a call from the hotel security, who he said told him that there were gunmen in the hotel and he should turn off the lights, lock the door and open it for no one. For the next 15 hours, the couple stayed under their bed.
From under the bed, the couple could hear terrorists move down a hallway, pound on each door and use an explosive that sounded like grenade. “They would blow the door open and start shooting everyone inside.”
There was at least one gunman perched high over the atrium firing into the rooms and down upon the people running across the bottom of the atrium to escape the hotel.
With the sniper outside, he said his wife did not want to risk getting up and going to the bag with her rosary beads, so she used her knuckles to keep track, he said. “Of the 15 hours, my wife was saying the rosary for, I’d say, 14-and-a-half hours.”
Meanwhile, Stadelmann said he used his laptop equipped with an international wireless Internet card to maintain contact with his family back home.
Beyond the explosions and the gunmen going door-to-door, the greatest danger to the couple was the fire, he said. “There were 1,000 rooms in the hotel, so I figured our chances were pretty good. But, the fire was really something. A fire will find you.”
Stadelmann opened the windows just a crack and he put wet towels at the bottom of the doors to block the smoke that filling the hotel, he said. To breathe, they covered their noses with wet towels, too.
Because their section of the hotel was constructed of concrete, he said he was confident the structure was sound, even when the roof of the atrium caught fire and its flaming pieces streamed down past their window.
When help arrived, it was a team of six Indian Army special forces soldiers dressed in black uniforms with black bandanas on their heads, he said. “They had everything, guns, knives and radios. They were the real deal.”
Along the way, the group had to walk past five or six dead bodies and at each one, Geraldine stopped to make the sign of the cross, he said. Of the more than 180 killed, one was a man from Australia the coupled befriended on the tour.
“The Indian people are wonderful,” he said. Many of the hotel staff risked their lives or were killed trying to help guests get to safety.
Stadelmann said those rosaries and the prayers of his friends and family back home were absolutely the reason they lived through the ordeal.
“We have a tremendous faith and we were getting prayers from all over the place,” he said.
Standing Strong in the Face of Adversity
Remember, Adversity is another way to measure the greatness of individuals. I never had a crisis that didn't make me stronger. ~Lou Holtz
Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:20-21 (New International Version)
Adversity can be described as a series of unfortunate events. Just when it seems that things are going right in your life, something can happen to change your perspective. It can be something as small as failing a test or something so overwhelming like death that just rocks your world.
Sometimes when we are confronted with adverse situations, we may want to throw up our hands in surrender. At other times, we just say “oh well” and keep on keeping on. And then there will come times, when you want to give up and give in. It is in those times when what we are made of, will surely be tested.
Whether you realize it or not, adversity in your lives is sometimes necessary for your spiritual development. There will be times when it becomes inevitable for us all to truly see just how strong the word of God is embedded in our everyday lives. Or, it may be a necessary process in order for us to move to the next level in our spiritual growth.
It is at those times that we must learn to depend on God even more than we already do. The reality of most individuals is that when things are going well in our lives, we become content with where we are. That is not where God necessarily wants us to be. Being a part of the Body of Christ is being willing to be stretched so that we become more like Him and less like the world.
It is at times like these, that we must learn to Stand strong in the face of Adversity.
All Prayers, even little prayers, are always of help!!! ...at the right time.
"Say the Rosary every day...
Pray, pray a lot and offer sacrifices for sinners...
I'm Our Lady of the Rosary.
Only I will be able to help you.
...In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph."
Our Lady at Fatima