Jack Sullivan, a 69-year old Permanent Deacon from Marshfield near Boston, Massachusetts, was suffering from an extremely serious spinal disorder when he first prayed through the intercession of Cardinal Newman.
Deacon Sullivan, who was healed of his spinal disorder on 15 August 2001, the Feast of the Assumption, made a special visit to England with his wife Carol in November 2009.
Reflecting on the importance of Cardinal Newman’s teaching as an inspiration to him, Deacon Sullivan said:
“Our holy and enduring Church lives and is constantly renewed in a very special way by those called by Christ as His servants to inspire and revitalise her. One such person, called for this purpose was the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman. Although he died 120 years ago, Newman’s thoughts and insights have enjoyed lasting acceptance, because they reflect the enduring truth about mankind’s condition and his instinctive quest for his Creator.”
He went on to talk about his own experiences in 2001:
“I was tragically afflicted with a serious spinal condition causing intolerable pain with utterly no prospect of relief. One surgeon told me that I was on the brink of complete paralysis. I had recently undergone spinal surgery because my lumbar vertebrae and discs were literally squeezing the life out of my spinal cord. During the procedure the surgeons also encountered serious complications. My dura mater or protective lining surrounding the spinal cord was very badly torn. For days after the surgery, I was still suffering incredible pain with no end in sight…
“I was completely helpless and the situation seemed hopeless. But it was this state of mind that led me to prayer. I called upon my very special intercessor and faithful friend: “Please Cardinal Newman, help me to walk, so that I can return to my classes and be ordained.”
Almost immediately Deacon Sullivan was able to walk. His doctors were unable to provide any medical explanation for the change in his condition and a year later Fr Paul Chavasse, the Postulator for the Newman Cause notified him that the process for the beatification of Cardinal Newman had been formally initiated and his case would be taken to Rome.
Deacon Sullivan's Homily