These are John Manousso’s remarks at the presentation ceremony of his photo on 26 August 1999 to the
M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas:
“It gives me great pleasure and honor to present this wonderful photo to the M. D. Anderson Chaplaincy Program. I thank the good Lord for allowing me to capture this magnificent photo. As you might know, in 1995, I took this photo on May 18th at St. Peter’s Basilica, in Rome, Italy.
For a year, I had wondered “why” I had taken the photo. Then, almost a year to the day, I realized a possible answer. On 17 May 1996, I was diagnosed with an incurable, very rare blood cancer of the small red blood cell, called Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia — WM for short. Waldenstrom affects less than 1% of the population. Life expectancy is uncertain, but currently is about 5 years. But with God’s Grace, I expect to exceed 20 years. [And he has!] I must confess that when I first learned that I had cancer, it shocked and devastated me.
However, one day as I looked at this photo and reflected on the blessing of this miracle, I realized that instead of maintaining my faith with God, I had taken a 45 degree turn away from all the faith and belief that I had been taught since childhood. I had crumbled under the anger that I felt from having cancer. This anger was indeed a big mistake on my part because nothing is allowed to happen to anybody without God’s hand. At that moment, I realized that this photo was a message not only to me, but also a message for everyone, and I needed to share my miracle as a message from God. Then, I turned this illness over to our Lord, and, since then, I have felt more of a sense of harmony and peace. Occasionally, the devil teases me, and I feel sad to have my body filled with cancer, but then I look at the photo, see Jesus, and feel his embrace. I have heard people many, many, times say that when they pray, they don’t feel that God is present, so they become disappointed, especially if they think that their prayers have not been answered. My photo informs me differently, so I now think differently about the power of prayer.
as we approach the millennium, I hope this photo will be a testimony for us all that Jesus is with us. He allowed me to capture Him, so that I can share my faith through this photo with everyone. With hope, this photo will reinforce our faith in miracles and in Him. Jesus is always there for us. He loves us so much so, that he wants us to gather together, as we have done today to keep our faith sincere in believing that no matter what the circumstances may be, if we give our problems to Him, He will take care of us.
The question “why” did I take this photo no longer puzzles me. I now understand the message: dying of cancer will not be bad, but dying without faith would be devastating. The Bible instructs us that we must pray in Jesus’ name to convey our messages to God. Then our prayers will be answered; our faith reinforced. Jesus is important in my faith, but I recognize and respect that many religious people of sincere faith practice communication with God in other ways, too. I do not want to offend anyone; however, today, I must share with you my personal faith.
In closing, I want to share a brief story — one morning a few weeks after taking this photo as I started to read my Bible, as I do daily, it opened randomly to Luke 9:29. My eye fell on the words, “And as He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.” This passage confirmed to me that I had photographed Jesus.
May this photo be an inspiration to you, as it has been to my wife, Barbara, and me, and may it open for you a new window of faith with God, — especially to those of you who wonder “why me.” I know that God has blessed us with this photo because he loves us all.” John Manousso
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Other speakers at the photo presentation were Rev. David R. Jenkins, Supervisor for the Chaplaincy Program; Barbara Sunderland Manousso; and Father James Pavlow of our Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Houston, Texas, who blessed the occasion. Hundreds of friends, clergy, and cancer patients witnessed the ceremony, which started at three o’clock in the afternoon at the Alkek rotunda at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
A 4 X 5 feet copy of this photo used to be on view on the three floor of the Alkek Tower outside the meditation room of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. A few years ago, when the hospital was again renovated, the photo was moved to outside of the chapel on the ground floor to the left of the cafeteria. Now it has become more available for those visiting the chapel.
In the second photo is John Manousso and the late Mary Ann McCloud, MDA Boardmember Emeritus, who built the meditation room for the photo on the third floor Alkek Tower, but, after the renovation, encouraged M.D.A. to more promenently display the photo outside of the chapel.
Since 1999, the photo has been moved to outside of the Chapel on the first floor, around the corner from the public’s cafeteria.