Marriage Matters

“Thy Will Be Done”

This article was posted on: July 8, 2024

A family story of following God’s plan in life, marriage and parenting

A family story of following God’s plan in life, marriage and parenting

“I just had to see who the cute boy was,” Nerissa Printz remembers thinking over 30 years ago when she was in middle school. That ‘cute boy’ was Neil, who is now her husband. He grinned ear to ear as the two reminisced about days gone by, when things were certainly simpler for the two of them but much less beautiful as well.

In the years since those two Catholic middle schoolers met, they have given the gift of life seven times over, have become grandparents and have been on the brink of death, all while following God’s will. For Neil and Nerissa Printz, members of St. Adalbert Parish in Rosholt, faith isn’t just part of their life, it is their way of life.

The couple are parents to seven children: Riley (25), Isabella (22), Gibson (19), Gloria (16), Agatha (11), Camilla (6) and Aurora (3). Nerissa admits that raising seven children is no easy task but says following God’s will and using Natural Family Planning (NFP) can be fruitful for marriages. “I wanted to ensure that our marriage would withstand the test of time and we would remain faithful and committed to each other. It’s been a struggle; there are trials in it, and there have been lots of sacrifices, but I have no regrets in that regard. I knew that it would enrich our marriage and help us be closer to God and each other.”

Nerissa emphasized the importance of family in her life, stating that they are the second most valuable thing after God. Spending time together brings them closer, and weekends when the kids can make it home are especially cherished as they can enjoy family meals, play games or watch a movie.

The children are not the only ones Nerissa enjoys spending time with, however. She makes a point to visit Jesus in daily Mass and adoration, often with the intention of bringing strayed Catholics back to the herd. She considers Mass and adoration as a blessing in her life.

“She has such a kind, saintly heart,” Neil shared with a smile.

Being physical beings living in the physical world God created, it only makes sense to be present physically with the ones we love. Similarly, she finds Jesus physically in the Eucharist, tabernacle and the beautiful monstrance during adoration. In adoration, Neil and Nerissa grow closer to God just as being closer to each other builds strength in their relationship.

Neil and Nerissa are incredibly busy people. In addition to raising seven children, they are both very active members of St. Adalbert Parish. They have served on the Parish Council, are involved with the Catholic school, and also helped plan the National Eucharistic Revival for their parish. Neil has been a part of the cemetery committee for the past 26 years, while Nerissa participates in the adoration and 40-hour devotions.

Planting seeds

The reason Neil and Nerissa are involved in their parish and have an active prayer life is twofold: their love for the Lord and their desire to guide their children on the path to heaven. “It’s for their eternal salvation,” Nerissa said. This life is very short. Eternity is permanent, and this life is passing.” However, in today’s world, it is challenging to keep them on the right track, given all the distractions. 

A miraculous life

It hasn’t all been roses for the Printz family. Both Neil’s and Nerissa’s parents have experienced serious health problems, and their fifth child, Agatha, was born via emergency cesarean section. But the biggest scare in their lives thus far came as they welcomed their seventh child, Aurora.

The surprise pregnancy occurred during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to her age, Nerissa was induced at 39 weeks. As the clock struck 3 p.m., the hour of Divine Mercy, she remembered labor being easy and painless.

“I thought, ‘Oh Lord, I haven’t even suffered for You yet. This has been too easy, I have no suffering to offer You. Just moments later, the pain came on like a terrible freight train.” Aurora’s heart rate was dropping, the situation became dire, and it was critical that Aurora be delivered. The doctors told Nerissa to push. Neil described her face as being “red as a tomato” as the doctor put a suction on the baby’s head. The room fell silent as the suction cup fell off.

“Two nurses moved me to the side, and all I could do was hold her hand. They were physically pushing the baby out. The nurses were jumping on Nerissa’s stomach,” Neil remembered. They later discovered Aurora’s arm had punctured Nerissa’s uterus and was stuck, which explained why she couldn’t emerge. Unbeknownst to anyone in the room at the time, Nerissa was bleeding out.

When Aurora was being delivered, she was suffocating. Eventually, the doctor was able to free her arm, and the nurses pushed her out. “She was born not breathing. She was completely blue,” Neil shared. Thankfully, resuscitation efforts were successful, and they were able to revive Aurora.

Then the focus turned to Nerissa. After some time, the doctor determined that Nerissa would need emergency surgery to remove her placenta. So, after holding her daughter Aurora for only one minute and one picture, mother and baby urgently parted ways. Doctors took Nerissa down the hall for surgery, while Aurora was quickly taken to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Neil recalls the tense moments at the NICU as they anxiously waited. When the head nurse finally entered the room, Neil couldn’t help but notice the grave look on her face. Neil quietly recalled, “I thought Nerissa died.” During a routine surgery to remove her placenta, doctors discovered that Nerissa had suffered a ruptured uterus and bladder, and she had lost half of her blood. “She’s really in rough shape, Neil,” the nurse told him.

The doctor informed Neil that he had only encountered a ruptured uterus once before, and it was with twins. Both twins had passed away, and the mother had to be resuscitated. “You just witnessed two miracles today,” Neil remembers the doctor telling him.

Meanwhile, in the NICU, plans were taking shape to fly Aurora to a children’s hospital in Madison for fear she had gone too long without oxygen. Meanwhile, Neil stayed with Nerissa while her sister drove to Madison to be with Aurora.

Looking back, Nerissa recalls during labor, “I was pushing as hard as I could, but when they started jumping on my stomach, I finally cried out to Jesus. I said, ‘Jesus have mercy,’ and that’s when they were able to free her.” Nerissa was OK, and Aurora ended up suffering no brain damage.

Providentially, Aurora was born at the 3 p.m. hour of Divine Mercy on Oct. 5, the Feast Day of St. Faustina Kowalska, whom Pope St. John Paul II called “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.” Naturally, Aurora’s middle name is Faustina.

As Aurora’s birth unfolded, the family’s former parish priest, who baptized four of their children, was just feet away, dying in another room. Even as their pastor died, three different priests dropped everything that they were doing to celebrate Mass for Aurora. “There are just so many moments that God orchestrates; it’s just too miraculous and beautiful,” Nerissa added. She says they remain grateful for the love and support of their family and community while Aurora was in the NICU.

It’s all part of the miraculous life these two Catholics and their Lord have created together. “Thy will be done.”

Story by Clint Berge
Published in the July/August 2024 issue of Catholic Life Magazine

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