July 12, 2019


Miracles remind us there is ‘good news’ to share

​If you’ve already grown tired of all the political noise that is taking center stage on many forms of communication—newspaper, radio, television and social media—as we approach the 2020 presidential election (which is still 16 months away), we encourage people searching for “good news” to look no further than the Catholic press.

In recent days, we’ve seen stories about how intercessory prayers that were answered have led to the upcoming canonization of a saint and the forthcoming beatification of a beloved archbishop.

A Catholic News Service (CNS) story recently shared how Chicago resident Melissa Villalobos’ prayers to Blessed John Henry Newman became a “constant dialogue” and then a desperate response to an emergency for her.

Villalobos’ healing, which saved her life and the life of her unborn child, was accepted as the miracle needed for the 19th-century British cardinal’s canonization. The miracle accepted for his beatification in 2010 also involved someone from the United States: Deacon Jack Sullivan, 71, of Marshfield, Mass., who was healed of a severe spinal condition in 2001.

The story, which appears on page 14 of this week’s issue of The Criterion, reveals how Villalobos’ husband brought home a couple of prayer cards with Cardinal Newman’s picture on it, and Melissa began to “say little prayers to him for whatever our family’s needs were at the time—the children, my husband, myself. I really started to develop a very constant dialogue with him.”

Those prayers were especially important in 2013 when Villalobos started bleeding during the first trimester of a pregnancy. Serious complications followed, and when what appeared to be a possible life-and-death situation arose, the mother offered desperate prayers to Cardinal Newman.

The bleeding suddenly stopped, and a healthy baby girl was born seven months later.

The Archdiocese of Chicago conducted the local study of the alleged miracle and forwarded the case to the Vatican for another series of investigations. The outcome was revealed in February when Pope Francis announced the miracle was accepted and that Cardinal Newman would be canonized in October.

Last weekend, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Ill., announced that the pope had approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

In a July 6 story posted on CNS, we learned the miracle is the healing of James Fulton Engstrom of Washington, Ill. James Fulton was considered stillborn when he was delivered during a planned home birth on Sept. 16, 2010.

According to the CNS story, his parents immediately invoked the prayers of Archbishop Sheen and would encourage others to seek his intercession after the baby was taken to OSF HealthCare St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria for emergency treatment.

Just as medical professionals were preparing to declare that the child was dead, James Fulton’s tiny heart started to beat at a normal rate for a healthy newborn. He had been without a pulse for 61 minutes.

Despite dire prognoses for his future, including that he would probably be blind and never walk, talk or be able to feed himself, James Fulton has thrived. Now a healthy 8-year-old, he likes chicken nuggets, Star Wars and riding his bicycle.

“It is truly amazing how God continues to work miracles,” Bishop Jenky said in the statement released by the Diocese of Peoria.

In a recent interview with The Catholic Post, Peoria’s diocesan newspaper, James Fulton’s mother said God had allowed the miracle to happen for his honor and glory.

“I really don’t think it was given to us, for us,” Bonnie Engstrom said. “I think it was given to the Church, for the Church.”

Political news these days is a necessity; we understand that. And we also realize these are challenging times for our Church. We only need to look at the past year both locally and globally to confirm that hard truth.

Despite the hurt and heartache our faith family has been a part of recently, there is “good news” to share concerning our universal Church family, and we cannot depend on secular media outlets to offer them as headlines. When two miracles happen in the U.S. thanks to intercessory prayers answered by those who have gone before us, it reminds us that God’s providence is with us as well.

May we never forget that fact as we continue to face challenges every day in all walks of life.

—Mike Krokos

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