I prayed to Cardinal and walked again, says deacon

A US Roman Catholic deacon spoke today of how the agonising pain he had suffered from a spinal disorder disappeared after praying to the revered English Cardinal John Henry Newman.

Jack Sullivan, from the US archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts, described the moment the "agony" had left him and he had been able to walk, to the "utter amazement" of medical staff, after he prayed to the late Cardinal.

"I said 'please Cardinal Newman, help me to walk, so that I can return to classes and be ordained' (as a deacon). Suddenly, I felt a tremendous sense of heat; very, very warm and a tingling feeling all over my entire body. It was very strong and lasted for a long time," he said.

"I felt a tremendous sense of peace and joy, very uplifted, and a sense of confidence and determination that finally I could walk, without even taking a step.

"Immediately the pain left. It was tragic before, and I exclaimed to the nurse: 'I have no more pain.'

"Thereafter, I walked out of the room, to the utter amazement of everybody, up and down the corridors and the floor of my hospital. I was experiencing what I felt was paradise."

Deacon Sullivan, now 71 years old, was speaking at the start of a six-day tour of Britain with his wife Carol, following an invitation from the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols.

The couple will visit London, Birmingham and Oxford during the tour.

The Vatican earlier this year approved his cure as a miracle, paving the way for Cardinal Newman to become England's first non-martyred saint since before the Reformation.

The tour comes as it is thought likely that Pope Benedict XVI will beatify Cardinal Newman - who famously converted to Catholicism from the Church of England - during his visit to Britain being planned for 2010.

The events described by Mr Sullivan on August 15, 2001, come after he was diagnosed with severe spinal disc and vertebrae deformities in 2000, a condition leaving him "bent double" and causing him "excruciating pain".

Deacon Sullivan, also a chief magistrate at Plymouth District Court in Massachusetts, said he had watched a television programme in the US about Cardinal Newman, who died in 1890, following his diagnosis and had prayed to him in June 2000.

He said: "The following morning I got out of bed pain-free, whereas previously I was in agony. I thought 'wow' what is happening, my prayer was answered to Cardinal Newman."

He said he had undergone a pain-free period, for which his doctor said there was no medical explanation, before the pain returned in April the following year.

He said he had undergone surgery on August 9, 2001 and had been told that complications meant that doctors did not know immediately whether he would be able to walk again.

Doctors had been forecasting a period of eight months to a year to recover at best.

Deacon Sullivan said he had been given a relic of Cardinal Newman and had conducted many healing services in his name.

"The results have been astounding, in terms of healing," he said.

Deacon Sullivan is expected to visit places connected with the life of Cardinal Newman, including Littlemore, near Oxford, where the Cardinal was received into the Catholic Church.

He will also travel to Birmingham where he and his wife will be guests of the community of the Birmingham Oratory, founded by Cardinal Newman.

The couple are also expected to visit the City of London and see the blue plaque on the entrance to the Stock Exchange marking the site where Cardinal Newman, the eldest son of a banker, was born in 1801.

Deacon Sullivan dismissed sceptics of his cure saying: "All the doctors for the (Congregation for) the Causes of the Saints as well as my own doctor and my own surgeon stated that there is no medical or scientific explanation for my sudden healing on the 15th or frankly the earlier one."

Speaking at a news conference later, Deacon Sullivan said there "could not be a better time" for Cardinal Newman to be recognised as a saint.

He said: "The world is in tough shape and in many cases we have turned our back on God, attributing to ourselves the credit that should go to God.

"We have become so subjective, often playing God, defining for ourselves what is good, what is evil, to suit ourselves.

"And (with) this process, we have seen, gradual degrading of society not only in the US but all over the world."

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