In Profile: Dina Beach, Assistant Director of Latino Catechesis Attributes Miracle and Faith to Her Survival
by Eileen Connelly, OSU
Holy Spirit, breathe in me. Breathe in me.” That was Dina Beach’s prayer immediately following a devastating car accident last July 13, as she sat amid the wreckage. Months later, after a slow, and often painful, recovery, accompanied by steadfast prayer, Beach, assistant director of Latino catechesis for the Archdiocese, is ready to share her story of healing and hope.
Miracles Still Exist
“I would really like to give testimony that miracles still exist, that God makes them happen every day,” she explained. “I want to give testimony that we need to be in relationship with God, ask for His help, turn to Him in the moment we need Him, and trust in His presence.”
It was a typical hot, humid Cincinnati summer day when the accident occurred. Beach and her husband, Dan, had attended a picnic that she had organized with some families at a local parish and were on their way home to change before participating in the 25th anniversary celebration of the ordination of Comboni Father Ruffino Ezama. Beach recalls stopping at red light, it turning green, and proceeding to cross the intersection. Suddenly, another car hit the passenger side of the Beach’s vehicle, causing it to fly and turn before landing.
“My husband tried to get out of the way,” Beach said. “I said, ‘Jesus, help us in Spanish’ and felt the crash.’”
“I felt like I was leaving my body. I was dying. I didn’t feel any pain,” she continued. “I couldn’t hear anything, but my eyes were open. I saw faces gathered around the car. A woman was knocking on the window. My husband was desperate, crying and trying to tell me something.”
And, Beach prayed, as the Holy Spirit Prayer of Saint Augustine came to mind. She also implored the Blessed Mother to be with her. Slowly, she said breathing became easier and her hearing
Her husband and the other driver weren’t hurt, but Beach was rushed to the hospital with terrible injuries. The seatbelt had cut into her body, detaching tendons in her right shoulder. Several vertebrae in her neck were compressed, her spine was fractured, and she suffered five broken ribs. The emergency room physician told Beach she was lucky. Her response? “No, I am blessed. It was amazing that my lungs weren’t punctured, another miracle.”
Raised in Faith
Turning to her faith in time of need is nothing new for Beach, who is originally from Mexico. “I was born into the Catholic faith,” she said. “My parents were very, very Catholic. They taught me that our Mother Mary will be with me always, so I learned to call upon her. Whenever I was sick, I prayed to Mary and felt as though someone was gently touching me on the forehead.”
She went on to become a Comboni lay missionary and embraced the opportunity to leave her native country for Cincinnati to serve the spiritual and physical needs of Latino immigrants. From 2001 until 2014, Beach ministered as coordinator of Hispanic ministry in Hamilton, Middletown, Oxford, Lebanon, and surrounding areas. In her current role, Beach works with parish leadership to
provide outreach to Latinos and find ways to help them become full, active members of their faith community. In addition, she develops and provide in-service and training to interested Latinos as a way to help them acquire catechetical skills, theological training, and catechist formation.
Surrounded by Support
It was Beach’s deep faith, her husband’s unwavering support and prayers from her archdiocesan colleagues and the local Latino community that helped her during her recovery. “The first three months were very, very difficult,” she said. “I couldn’t move or do anything for myself. My husband took a month off of work. He was affected, as well, emotionally, but he was always with me and prayed with me.”
Particularly challenging for Beach was being immobile in a recliner, laying back and unable to even hold her head up. Rather than feeling sorry for herself, she saw it as an opportunity for prayer. “I said, ‘Okay, Lord, I know you have me in this position because you want me to pray all day to you. I know that maybe I was distracted by other things. Now I will pray and praise you. Prayer became my medicine.”
Beach returned to work at the Archdiocese on Jan. 6. She’s still undergoing physical therapy and tired easily sometimes, but is no longer on any medication. “I’m feeling better every day, and saying ‘thank you, thank you,’ to God,’” she said. “I know He wants me to continue to give testimony and celebrate His power and love. His mercy and love are what healed me.”