New Jersey Family Attributes Healings to Saintly Intercession
How a display of relics is linked to restored health for one family’s sons.
Miracles do happen. Too often the modern world is skeptical of the possibility of seemingly miraculous healings. But they do happen, and one family in New Jersey knows this truth well.
The Charles and Cathy Lacey family experienced not one but two healings when they attended a “Treasures of the Church” exposition three years ago. Led by Father Carlos Martins, the international exposition includes 150 relics of saints such as Maria Goretti, Thérèse of Lisieux, Francis of Assisi and Anthony of Padua, one of the largest relics of the True Cross, and a piece of the veil that, according to sanctioned tradition, is believed to have belonged to Our Lady.
At the time of the Lacey family visit, son Patrick was 10 years old and son Brendan was 12. Patrick had cerebral palsy and had worn braces on his legs since he was 3.
As mom Cathy described, “His muscles wouldn’t stretch enough to stand flatfooted. [In school] his teacher would always have him put his heels down. He was very obedient, but it made him sore all the time. He would walk around for a nature walk, but it would affect every system in his body. He would need two to three days to recuperate, cough a lot, had fatigue, no appetite, and got pneumonia sometimes.”
He was also affected cognitively. He had “trouble with letters and numbers, and nothing seemed to stick. Reading became an issue,” his mother explained. Patrick was receiving physical, occupational and extensive speech therapy from school, the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, and local private therapists.
Then the Laceys discovered their older son was having health problems, as well.
“At that point Brendan was having problems with eating,” Cathy said. “At every meal he would have to excuse himself and clear his throat. The food would not go down.” Medical specialists gave him various tests, including an endoscopy. When the doctors showed his parents pictures of the scope, “it looked terrible in there,” Cathy recalled. Brendan was put on four daily medications for eosinophilic esophagitis — a chronic immune system disease where eosinophils (a type of blood cell) build up in the esophagus and, among other things, cause difficulty swallowing, gagging, food sticking in the esophagus and abdominal pain.
Another Sort of Screening
For both sons there were weekly trips to Nemours/duPont Hospital an hour away from their home. Then youngest son Sean started having hip problems; he particularly experienced pain while using stairs.
“I was praying a lot during this time, praying the Rosary. God was carrying me through prayer,” Cathy said. One day during adoration in the chapel of St. Rose of Lima Church in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, she felt drawn to go into the spiritual center library for the first time. She spotted a DVD about the “Treasures of the Church” exhibit. “We watched it as a family. And as soon as we watched it, Patrick said, ‘Mom I want to go to that.’ He was riveted by it. I prayed, ‘Please, Lord, let me know when that’s nearby.”
Checking the exhibit schedule, she discovered it was coming to New Jersey the next month. What’s more, Father Martins was scheduled on Valentine’s Day, “ironically at St. Agnes Church,” Cathy recalled, “the same church where my husband went through the RCIA program and received all his sacraments.”
“Dear Lord, this is divine intervention,” she thought.
The family was able to sit in the front row. “We were 5 feet away from the True Cross and Mary’s veil,” Cathy explained.
After Father Martins’ talk, Patrick went up to all the relics, touching his Miraculous Medal to each one. The family touched pictures of all loved ones in need of prayers to the relics, too.
“It was a beautiful, beautiful night,” Cathy remembered.
But the blessings did not end there.
When they got home, Cathy explained, “Patrick wasn’t sore. He went running upstairs to his bed.” I thought, “How in the world? Could it be?”
She described the upcoming weekend as unusually warm for mid-February. Brendan and Sean asked to ride their bikes to the park. “Patrick wanted to ride his bike, too. He had not ridden in years,” his mother said.
He rode all the way to the park. “He played the whole time, over an hour. He was playing! We could not believe our eyes,” Cathy said. Then he rode his bike all the way home. The next day Patrick again wanted to go with his brothers on their bikes, even peddling uphill more than once.
“At that point, I knew this was a miracle,” Cathy said. “I was crying, watching him play. We were still in awe.”
Back home, Cathy recounted, Patrick “tells us he doesn’t need the braces. He says, ‘I’ve been healed.’ And he went to school without his braces.”
When the Laceys took Patrick to his regular therapist — the same therapist who was trying to help them get the wheelchair the doctor already said Patrick would need because his bones were growing more than his muscles could stretch and knew his muscles hurt so much that tears would roll down his face — the therapist was shocked.
After seeing him run around without his braces, she put Patrick through a complete evaluation.
“You really don’t know what to tell us, do you?” Cathy asked. The therapist answered, “I have no idea.” Then Patrick told her the story of Maria Goretti and the saints.
Cathy described the woman’s reaction. “This woman had her chin on the floor and said never had she seen anything like this. If he came in here right now to be evaluated, his measurements are those of a normal 10-year-old boy. He would not even qualify for treatment.”
Back home, Cathy opened an email from Patrick’s teacher telling her the class had started long division. Cathy knew her son still had difficulty with addition and subtraction. “The teacher said she did the first three problems with Patrick; the next four he did himself and got them all right. ‘He’s doing great,’” Cathy remembered.
“At that point my husband realized” the miraculous had happened, “and we started rejoicing. We had done nothing. It was purely God. God is so good.”
And then there was Brendan.
Miracles: Part II
“My throat feels pretty good,” he told his parents, who saw that he was able to keep food down. So they stopped the medicine. At his next scheduled endoscopy on Easter Monday, the Laceys waited to see the latest images. His esophagus looked normal and healthy.
“Everything was clear,” said Cathy. Still, the doctor insisted they keep up the endoscopies. When the next endoscope appointment rolled around, Cathy asked if any more were necessary. “The head of the department agreed” that no more were needed, but believed encophils remained, she said.
Fast-forward a year. In his first year of high school, Brendan came home hungry after football practice and grabbed a piece of chicken, which stuck in his throat.
Brendan ended in the hospital and had to have surgery.
The doctor, who “specialized in eosinophilic esophagitis,” took esophagitis samples from Brendan for testing.
Two weeks later, the doctor’s nurse called. “We have the results. It shows allergies and inflammation.”
Cathy asked, “What about the eosinophils?” The nurse answered, “There are no eosinophils.” “Did she [the doctor] not take the test?” Cathy asked, just to be sure.
Of course, the nurse said. “There are no eosinophils,” the nurse emphasized, a second and then a third time.
Cathy took the news as God confirming Brendan had been healed. “God is so good with this reaffirmation,” she told the Register.
For his part, Brendan said, “I was officially healed. I was just amazed at God’s grace and his willingness to heal what was wrong with me through the intercession of his saints and his great mercy.”
Looking back, Brendan already had a sense that he might have been healed by the intercession of the saints following the relics’ display.
“When I think about the miracle I had,” Brendan said, “honestly, it helped me grow as a person in so many ways. Everything about it was God’s divine plan. We were visiting the relics, and I was truly hoping for grace and love for me. Right after the miracle happened, I definitely could tell something was a little different. I was cautiously optimistic, but could not tell if my mind was playing tricks on me. I was definitely strengthening in the faith at that time.”
A year later, on the way to the hospital for “the chickenectomy,” he said he was “petrified. … All I could think to do was to pray … ‘Lord, please spare me; keep me alive.’ I thought I could stop breathing.”
He continued, “At the hospital, doing all the tests, I was barely able to speak and gagging constantly. My mom started to pray the Rosary for me to be comforted. And right after she finished, I could speak,” adding that “the Blessed Mother was protecting me and granting me comfort I was desperately needing for the time.”
The Healing Continues …
Since the exposition and the hospital episode, Brendan said, “my faith has grown astronomically,” explaining that he became more involved in church activities, including as a leader for the St. Rose of Lima youth group; and he continues as an altar server.
Patrick is an altar server, too. “The very first relic I touched was the wood of the True Cross,” Patrick said, sharing his experience at that memorable visit with the “Treasures of the Church.”
“After that, I went to all the other relics and touched my medal to every single one of them,” he recounted.
“After that night my mom started to notice something about me,” he continued, adding, “I asked my mom to not wear my braces. So I didn’t, and I wasn’t sore. Then a couple of days later my mom said, ‘You were healed!’”
Now, he plays soccer and basketball on a team with his brother Sean.
Patrick explained how “we’ve been saying a family Rosary every day and go to St. Rose to say the Rosary on Thursday.” Among his own prayers, he shares that “every night I thank God for healing me and the holy angels and saints for healing me — and in the morning, too.”
Charlie, who at first struggled with doubt about the miracles, has become an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. And, recently, he has applied to the diaconate.
Over the course of the many expositions nationally and internationally, Father Martins, of the Companions of the Cross, is not surprised when he hears of numerous healings people experience when they encounter saints’ relics. Several testimonies are detailed on the website of his ministry, TreasuresoftheChurch.com.
“The healing that comes through the saints is simply the fulfillment of John 14:12 — ‘… greater works than I do, you will do.’ So Christ guarantees that. And the intercession of the saints is the fulfillment of that prophecy,” he explained to the Register.
“The saints are incarnate in Christ, and that means they’re members — the limbs — of his Mystical Body,” he added. “Stated differently, Christ is still performing the works he did on earth through the saints.”
A Familiar Story
Father Martins later met the Laceys. He remembers them as “a charming family, a family of faith, and that faith was the engine by which the healing came about because they opened themselves to the grace that was present at the exposition.”
The sons’ healings share some characteristics common to many. “What is remarkable is the healing happened so gently that none of the two boys perceived it immediately. That speaks about God and his style and his profoundly gentle way,” Father Martins said.
“Most of the times we discover healings after the fact. I’ve seen this so many times,” he added. “The healing is so integrated into the person that they only discover it on reflection — ‘Wait a minute; something’s different.’ That is what we see here.”
Father Martins regularly observes another major characteristic. “The healing God performs through the saints is in such a way that it isn’t a part that is healed in the person; the entire person is changed, such that it felt so natural to him that he didn’t perceive it [right away].”
He explained, “When God heals … he sends you out whole and integral in a way you were not before.”
“God is so good,” Cathy emphasized.
“Never did we expect this. We were there [at the ‘Treasures of the Church’] to thank him and be in the presence of relics and get to know the saints.”
“It was all of the saints,” she explained of her sons’ healing. “I couldn’t attribute it to any one. It was the whole heavenly army.”