Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Miracles Still Happen

What a story.

People in Colwich like to touch Chase Kear's arm or his shoulder with their fingers. Or they hug him. "Miracle Man," they say. "Let me touch the miracle." With anybody else in Colwich, this would be just talk. But it's not just talk to the Vatican.

Prompted in part by what the Kear family has said publicly, and partly by a preliminary investigation begun by the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, a Vatican investigator named Andrea Ambrosi will arrive from Italy in Wichita on Friday.

He will investigate on behalf of the church in Rome whether 20-year-old Chase Kear's survival qualifies as a miracle; whether he survived a severe head injury last year in part because his family and hundreds of friends successfully prayed thousands of prayers to the soul of Father Emil Kapaun, a U.S. Army chaplain from Pilsen, Kan., who died a hero in the Korean War.

Hotze has investigated Kapaun's proposed sainthood for eight years, which is only a fraction of the time the church has been considering whether to elevate Kapaun to sainthood.

Soldiers came out of prisoner-of-war camps in 1953 with incredible stories about Kapaun's heroism and faith. Across Kansas, his memory is kept alive at Wichita's Kapaun Mount Carmel High School, in his hometown of Pilsen and elsewhere.

Kapaun is so well-known and so highly regarded by area Catholics that the diocese has received other reports of miracles involving Kapaun, Hotze said. Ambrosi on Friday will consult area physicians in at least three such cases, including Chase's, Hotze said.

two American-born people have ever been canonized as saints. For sainthood, the church will require at least one and possibly two miracles be proven on Kapaun's behalf, depending on whether he died a martyr, something the church is also trying to determine.

Among people that Ambrosi will consult on Friday will be Chase's neurosurgeon, Raymond Grundmeyer, who said in a brief e-mail last week that he considers Chase's survival a miracle.

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Tip O' the Hat to CMR.

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