John Bruchalski, M.D.: A Dynamic Conversion
Book Review by Lou Allocco
Dr. John Bruchalski’s story is a remarkable example of God never giving up on His children no matter how far they may have strayed.
John Bruchalski was born into a devout Polish Catholic family which was active in their parish community. He was raised with traditional Catholic values, was educated in Catholic schools, taught to read Scripture, and was an alter server. At a very young age, he discovered “The Visible Man” and “The Visible Woman”, which were highly detailed see-through models of human anatomy. He was intrigued by the human body’s complex system of organs, muscles, and skeletal structure, particularly the female reproductive system. After purchasing these models, he studied them intently, developing an intense desire to learn everything he could about the human body and the miraculous way all of its parts worked together to sustain life. This was the start of his goal to become a medical doctor.
Even from a very early age, John had great respect and compassion for women and he earned their trust as they confided in him with their personal problems and concerns. He was a very sincere listener, and realized later in life that God was already planting in him the seed to someday become a physician in the field of obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN).
Even though John had had a deep love and reverence for Jesus early in his life, as he entered adolescence and college, he grew more and more lukewarm in his faith, sometimes questioning and challenging what he had been taught about right and wrong against what the world considered ethical. Following high school, he enrolled at Spring Hill College, a private Roman Catholic school in Alabama. He experienced a rift between what he considered traditional Catholic values and what was presented by “liberal Catholic” Jesuit priests and brothers in his classes as more “relative” values of morality. Because of his empathy toward women, he listened carefully to his female peers about their views on abortion, contraception, and birth control, and believed that they should have freedom to choose what was best for themselves.
While in medical school, John sought the praise and respect of his professors, as well as the women patients he attended to as a resident. This included assisting in and performing abortions, something he was becoming increasingly desensitized about morally. A doctor who was a very important mentor to him told him that he could make a great income as an OB/GYN if he included abortions as part of the health care he provided to women.
One day, following a botched abortion, one of the top physicians on the hospital staff where he was a resident took him aside and implored him to stop treating an unwanted fetus like a “cancerous tumor”. She shared her faith with him and urged him to take a trip to a place called Medjugorje, a village in what was then Yugoslavia, where it was believed that the Blessed Virgin had been appearing since 1981. She thought that the experience there would enable him to see both mother and unborn child as dignified, individual persons – “Two Patients”- both made in the Image of God. John, who had fallen away from his Catholic faith, had never heard of Medjugorje. But incredibly, John’s own mother, with whom he enjoyed traveling, had independently planned a trip to Medjugorje and wanted him to go with her. He agreed, and his life would never be the same.
After climbing what is known there as Apparition Hill, Dr. John Bruchalski experienced something he called “nearly indescribable”: an appearance of Jesus before him, looking as though “I could reach out and touch Him”, telling John that He loved him and asking him if he wanted to be healed. This was followed by the appearance of “a beautiful woman who I believe was Mary”, asking him to trust in her Son’s love for him. He suddenly felt healed by the “Great Physician”, redeemed, loved, and brand new. He immediately went to the local Catholic Church to make his first confession to a priest in more than a decade. In John’s own words: “I didn’t come to Medjugorje seeking such a vivid spiritual experience, but that was how God chose to act in my life… I knew that the course of my future as a man, a physician, and a son of God had been changed forever.”
Dr. John Bruchalski’s incredibly poignant story of conversion is told in detail in his book “Two Patients”, referring to how he now sees every pregnant woman not as one person, but as two unique individual people.