Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bay State man speaks out on Newman miracle.

British media reports suggest that the date of the long-anticipated beatification of John Henry Newman will likely be announced in the next two months. This move follows the certification by medical and theological experts that a Massachusetts man's 2001 healing from a spinal condition cannot be explained by any means other than through prayers offered through the intercession of Cardinal Newman. The man at the center of the Newman 'miracle probe' was identified in 2005 as Marshfield resident John A. Sullivan, an attorney, husband and father of three who was preparing for ordination as a permanent deacon when he began to suffer from debilitating pain in his spine. In an article in today's Boston Globe, Deacon Sullivan shares the story of his recovery:
Sullivan's suffering erupted on June 6, 2000, he said, when he woke up with excruciating pain in his back and legs. At Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, a CAT scan showed several vertebrae squeezing his spinal cord. A doctor told him to find a surgeon fast, because his spinal stenosis could lead to paralysis. In the meantime, Sullivan said, he was forced to walk hunched over, his right hand gripping his right knee for support.

He learned that the long recovery from surgery would keep him off his feet for months and dreaded the timing: Halfway through a four-year program that would lead to his ordination as a deacon in the Catholic Church and passionately devoted to his goal, he was in the midst of classes and a 120-hour internship at a Boston hospital.

One night, watching television to escape his troubles, Sullivan happened on a show about Cardinal John Henry Newman. Born in London in 1801 and widely admired as a funny, brilliant thinker and writer on religion, Newman converted to Catholicism in his 40s after clashing with leaders of the Church of England over what he saw as a shift away from the church's roots.

The television show described the current movement, based in England, supporting the cardinal's beatification and appealed to viewers for news of miraculous happenings that might help make the case. Sullivan wrote down the address. And that night he asked Newman for help.

"I said, 'Please, Cardinal Newman, help me so I can go back to classes and be ordained,' " Sullivan said. "The next morning I woke up, and there was no pain."

. . .

Sullivan remained free of pain for eight months, but after his last class, the pain returned, he said. He had surgery at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston on Aug. 9, 2001. Five days later, his second prayer to Cardinal Newman was answered. He was ordained in September 2002, and now serves as deacon at St. Thecla Parish in Pembroke, where his duties include assisting at Mass, performing baptisms, and teaching classes for local prisoners.

After Sullivan shared his story with leaders of the campaign for Newman's sainthood, years of investigation followed, culminating in hearings in Boston where Sullivan and his wife both testified about his recovery.
For more of the story, click here. As one who hopes that Cardinal Newman will eventually be declared a saint, I'm pleased that his beatification is apparently now certain. I'm also inspired by the story of Deacon Sullivan's recovery, which provides eloquent testimony to the power of prayer. May his example be an inspiration to others who seek Cardinal Newman's intercession. AMDG.


At 5/03/2009 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Telegraph report wasn't quite accurate..the cause is progressing but not imminent.

At 5/03/2009 2:09 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Thank you for the point of clarification - whatever the timeline is, I look forward to the day when Newman's beatification is announced.


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