Catholic Church verifies, approves local miracle
After a 14-year investigation, the Catholic Church acknowledged a violently ill child's inexplicable recovery was a miracle.
"This is the official decree that we received from Rome that my son's miracle healing is attributed to Sister Maria Theresia Bonzel of Perpetual Adoration," said Jan Burgie.
Jan and her husband, Mike Burgie, said the story of Luke's miracle started at a religious education class at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church. Sister Margaret Mary Preister and Sister Evangeline Spenner, from the Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration, spoke to Jan and Mike's classes.
Jan's daughter Jill listened to Spenner in class. They describe their daughter Jill as having a "spiritual awakening." She was drawn to Spenner and insisted the family get to know the nun. After that, the family invited the sisters over for dinners and started spending time together.
Shortly after, the couple's son Luke fell violently ill. The 4-year-old had severe and constant diarrhea for six months. Jan, Mike and Luke visited doctors and specialists looking for answers. They ran series of tests, tried different diets and varied rounds of antibiotics. However, nothing worked. Luke's disease stumped doctors.
Luke couldn't go to preschool. He lost 10 percent of his body weight and he stopped growing. Doctors thought Luke possibly had a tumor in his colon.
Jan decided to reach out to the sisters for help.
"She gave me a call and she said please pray for Luke and she was just desperate," said Preister.
Preister and Spenner prayed a series of prayers for nine straight days, called a novena, to their order's founding mother, Sister Maria Theresia Bonzel. Bonzel founded the Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Olpe, Germany in the 1800's. The sisters asked Bonzel, who died in 1905, to help Luke.
Luke was scheduled for a colonoscopy in Denver to determine if he had a tumor. However, that same day, Luke woke up completely cured.
Doctors couldn't explain it.
"They said usually it would just lessen and [he would] maybe have [diarrhea] every other day. It wouldn't be this spontaneous boom, it's done," said Jan.
"He just got off the couch one afternoon and started playing like a normal boy," said Preister.
Jan and her husband believed the only explanation for Luke's recovery was that it was a miracle. They shared the news with the sisters. The sisters shared the news with their sisters in Germany. The group in Germany asked Jan and Mike to document Luke's illness and recovery because they wanted to send it to the Vatican.
Jan and Mike describe the process of documenting the miracle as both tedious and rewarding. Jan said the process tested doctors' patience; she had to document every visit, collect paperwork and ask doctors to send evaluations to Rome. Representatives from the Vatican interviewed the Burgie's as well as their friends and relatives. They put together a 60-page document of their findings from the tests and tribunals over 14 years.
"While it was happening, it never crossed my mind that we would have to be documenting a miracle. And even when he got well, I just thought, 'Oh my gosh it's a miracle.' Not even thinking, we'd have to document it because there are so many small miracles in like you just embrace," said Jan.
After 14 years of investigating, Pope Francis decreed it was a miracle. A miracle is necessary for beatification, which makes Bonzel one step closer to becoming a saint.
"I am not a person to jump up and down and say I'm so excited. I will just say I am thankful that God used me as his instrument," said Preister.
As for Luke, the healthy 18-year-old doesn't like to talk about the miracle. He doesn't remember being sick. Luke works at a bike shop and is trying to save up money for a car. His mom said he spends as much time as possible on his BMX bike.
"He is a regular 18-year-old who is more interested in everything else than this," said Preister.
The couple described themselves as practicing Catholics before Luke miracle. However, they have a deeper faith now in the power of prayer.
"I would say that we are proud of our Mother Foundress and we can pray to her and ask her for another miracle," said Preister.
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