WAUSAU – On their way to the hospital for the delivery of their eighth child on April 17, Michael and Niki Rogan’s van was struck by a deer that penetrated the windshield, killing Michael Rogan.
Niki Rogan, who was in labor, and their seven children, who were in the van when the accident occurred, suffered minor injuries. A healthy baby boy, Blaise, was delivered later that day.
The accident and the loss of a father and husband – Michael, 42 – resulted in an overwhelming show of prayers and support for Niki and the Rogan children. The Rogans, who live in Stratford in the La Crosse Diocese, are members of St. Mary’s Oratory in Wausau. After hearing of the accident, the St. Mary’s family quickly began to assist the family.
“The outpouring from the first hours that everyone learned of the death of Mike was just overwhelming,” Canon Aaron Huberfeld of St. Mary’s Oratory said of “all the prayers, just a constant prayer chain during those hours praying for the safe delivery of their child.”
HOW TO HELP
To donate or learn more about Michael Rogan and his family, visit www.gofundme.com/rogan. Monetary and food donations can also be sent in care of the Rogan family to:
The Rogans’ tragic tale gained national attention as the story was picked up by the Associated Press and reported by The New York Times, CNN, Fox News and other national media outlets.
“(Mike) led by example, the main example he had was boundless joy. He was just an absolute faith filled, fun loving guy,” said Canon Huberfeld, adding that Mike was “an exemplary Catholic, and exemplary father and just a man’s man.”
According to his cousin, Cody Nikolai, Michael was a leader through example.
“His concern was that his family remains faithful to the Catholic faith,” added Nikolai.
Two days after the accident, the faith of the Rogan family was displayed when they attended Sunday Mass to have Blaise baptized. Members of St. Mary’s Oratory were there with them.
“Most of the people after Mass stayed on for the baptism,” Canon Huberfeld said. “Then most people stayed on after that. We went to someone’s house here in town and spent the whole afternoon there; we just wanted everyone to stay together.”
Monetary support for the Rogans has also been a welcome blessing. Fellow St. Mary’s Oratory members and friends of the Rogans, Cecilia and Dominic Gruetzmacher, started a GoFundMe campaign that at press time had reached over $455,000.
The Gruetzmachers had no idea the campaign would draw so much attention. Dominic initially suggested they set a goal of $5,000 so the Rogan family could hopefully invest in a used van.
“Well, by Friday evening (the same day as the accident) we had already reached $5,000 so we doubled it,” he said. “We got an anonymous donation matching for the next $5,000, so it took us to $15,000 by the next morning.”
On Sunday, donations of $150,000 led the Gruetzmachers to believe the campaign could help Niki pay for the expenses of the accident as well as allow her to continue homeschooling her children. The current goal is to raise $500,000.
“They are a very frugal family,” Dominic said. “They raised their seven children on very little … I know that they will be responsible and I have no doubts the money couldn’t be going to a better cause.”
Dominic remembered his friend as a strong family man who led by example.
“He was very gentle in his approach,” he said, adding, “You’d always see him with a kid on his lap, and another two to three hovering around him – just very lovable.”