How Watching EWTN Led to Beatification of Cardinal Newman

Deacon Jack Sullivan
Deacon Jack Sullivan (photo: Screenshot)

Watching Mother Angelica’s television channel has led to many miracles in people's lives, but perhaps none quite so clear as the one that happened to Deacon Jack Sullivan.

Having just completed two years formation to be ordained deacon in the archdiocese of Boston, in August 2001 Deacon Sullivan suddenly developed a very serious spinal condition. So crippling was the illness that a surgeon at Boston Hospital said he needed immediate surgery and that paralysis could be imminent.

“At that moment, things were very bleak”, Deacon Sullivan said, especially as he wanted to resume his studies that September. “I came home, I turned on the television and watched a program that was hosted by Father John McCloskey about Cardinal Newman,” he recalled to the Register. Father McCloskey was interviewing Father Ian Ker, an expert on Newman, for an EWTN documentary.

Father Ker said in the interview that the reason why Cardinal Newman had not been canonized was that the kind of academic people who were interested in his writings were unlikely to pray for his intercession. “What was necessary was that 'ordinary' people should start praying to him,” Father Ker said, recalling the interview with the Register.

For someone to be beatified, usually a proven miracle has to have taken place on account of that person's intercession.

“Because of that program, I prayed to Newman and my healing situation began,” Deacon Sullivan said. “Father McCloskey thought to put a message on the screen at the conclusion of the program, saying: ‘If you receive any divine favors after praying to Cardinal Newman, please contact the vice postulator for Newman’s cause at the Oratory, Birmingham, England’”.

“If that message hadn’t been there, I probably wouldn’t have prayed to Newman,” Deacon Sullivan said. “I was so taken by the contents of the program: they were talking about the difficulties Newman experienced in his vocation and I could identify with that, and then they put the message up. It didn’t mention miracles, it simply said ‘divine favors’, so I thought: that’s something I could ask for. It would be too much to ask for miracle.

“So I prayed to Newman,” Deacon Sulllivan continued. “I was in total agony as you might expect, but the pain suddenly went away. The prayer was very simple: ‘Please could Cardinal Newman help me to walk so I can return to classes and be ordained.’”

Deacon Sullivan, who often watched and listened to Mother Angelica’s programs, said what she did in terms of “communications and the evangelization aspect” of EWTN “was one of the greatest miracles of modern history”.

“I’m sure what she did helped the faith of millions,” he said.

Nicolas Poussin, “Sts. Peter and John Healing the Lame Man,” 1655 — “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.” ... He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the Temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.” [Acts 3:6, 8].

No Reason for Being Sad

“For man was made an intelligent and free member of society by God who created him, but even more important, he is called as a son to commune with God and share in his happiness.” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 21)