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Friday, October 8, 2010

The "Runner Up" Miracle

The following article is from Sydney Morning Herald.  It is interesting in several ways in that the miracle itself is quite amazing but also in the fact that it illustrates the great care and cautiousness that the Vatican takes to verifying a miracle as "worthy of belief."  This is a "runner up" miracle. The Church needs one miracle to beatify a person as "Blessed" and a second miracle to canonize them into Sainthood. This particular miracle was investigated and kept in reserve so if an alleged second miracle didn't past muster, this would be the official one used to canonize a Saint.

Healed ... Jack Simpson's recovery of his intellectual capacity has been named one of Mary MacKillop's miracles by the Vatican. Photo: Angela Wylie
JACK SIMPSON should have died at least five years ago. Instead, he is about to leave for Rome to honour the woman whose intervention he credits with his cure, which the Vatican accepts is a miracle.
Jack, 19, was the ''runner-up'', the one held in reserve, for the second miracle Mary MacKillop needed to be canonised Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop in Rome on Sunday week.
Disaster struck in April 1999. ''He went from a normal boy going to school to another boy we didn't know coming home that night. He lost all his competencies and became like a new baby,'' his mother, Sharon Simpson, recalls.
He was eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, cancer, epilepsy and a loss of neurological functions.
Andrew Kornberg, director of the neurology department at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, called Jack's recovery miraculous and the Vatican agreed - not for the MS or cancer but the unprecedented recovery of his intellectual capacity.
Jack's story has not been told until now because while the case was being investigated by the Vatican the family was asked to keep it secret. It was presented to Pope Benedict last year along with Kathleen Evans's cure from inoperable brain and lung cancer - the case chosen as the second miracle.
The Simpson family's ordeal began in 1999 when Jack, then eight, collapsed at school. ''At first we thought he'd hit his head. His eyes were rolling, he couldn't stand and had no comprehension. It was unbelievably horrible,'' Mrs Simpson recalled yesterday.
For the first year there was no diagnosis, as his central nervous system went into meltdown, leaving him paralysed. Soon after the problem was revealed as juvenile MS - with a maximum life expectancy of five years - the family noticed lumps the size of bars of soap in his neck and groin.
''When he went to the nuclear medicine department and they put the tracer in, he was lit up like a Christmas tree. It was quite advanced, stage four Hodgkin's lymphoma,'' said his mother.
A friend organised novenas (nine-day prayer cycles) to Mary MacKillop at St Ambrose's Catholic Church in Woodend in 1999 and 2000, but nothing changed at first. For Mrs Simpson the turning point came one night in 2000.
''That night I thought Jack was going to die. He seemed to be in the last stage, with the breath rattling. I thought, 'You can't keep fighting forever, you have to surrender', and I said, 'If you want him, God, you can have him'.''
But in the morning he was still alive. She thought he might be cured, so she stood him up but he was still paralysed. ''That's when Mary MacKillop appeared. She helped me lift him up and get him back into bed. From then on, I knew I was never alone and her strength became mine.''

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