Stories of Joy - No. 13 - Miracle for beatification of Josaphata

In Ukraine

His two elderly aunts were delighted with their young nephew’s show-off musical stunts. He would point to the old music box to put on his favourite. Then he would dance around the room, loudly tapping his right foot on the strong beat, and waving his hands rhythmically as they clapped and cheered him on. The two aunts who lived in the city arranged for him to live with them and in the course of time he earned a degree and teaching position with the Conservatory of Music, specializing in piano. He also clandestinely became a Basilian priest in the underground church of the time. Each morning began with the Divine Liturgy on his piano stool altar at which his aunts, in truth religious Sisters, participated. Then he left for the Conservatory, returning late afternoon to a peaceful evening of a family meal and relaxation in the apartment where the three lived. They would pray, sing religious hymns, share the day’s stories, and the like.

One day the authorities found out he was a priest, dismissed him from the Conservatory, and he began looking for the next means of livelihood. No doubt they had traced him as he moved around secretly ministering to the spiritually needy, especially youth. How best to reach the needy now? He took an office job in the big city hospital where he felt God would lead him to the sick and the dying, and perhaps even to their families. Occasions did present themselves now and again, as his office work also included cleaning the hallways, sweeping the street and shoveling the snow in front of the building, and very often wheeling out the bodies of the deceased.

His office was near the large main stairway and all day long he could see the many families who came down from visiting their sick. Some would stop by and share their burden with this new young man who looked so kindly at them. As their eyes met, a prayer went up to heaven for these needy. Oftentimes they left in him a yearning to visit the patient and assess the need and possibility of helping.

One afternoon there was quite a commotion near the main entrance as an emergency transport wheeled in a stretcher with a teenager. The mother urged them to hurry; the priest began to pray. Seeing the young boy brought back memories of his work with youth. The 16 year old boy was afflicted with acute lupus erythematosus for which little could be done in his village medical clinic. Now at the city university hospital hopes for recovery revived. The boy’s mother, a medical person herself, anxiously watched his unstable condition. The priest tried to be available as she entered or exited the hospital. Late one afternoon she walked heavily down the steps and he heard loud sobbing. “Is the boy worse again?” “Yes — this is his last night; they have put ice packs around him to ease the pain.” She put her arms around him and cried, and he blessed her.

Suddenly there was a new prayer in his heart — to Sister Josaphata. Just yesterday his aunt had received in the mail a photo of her with a prayer for her intercession on the reverse side. “Now is the time to pray to her. . .” Next morning the Divine Liturgy was for the boy, and together they recited the Josaphata prayer. During the day, the Sisters prayed it many times while he anxiously awaited any news at the hospital. He saw several doctors hurrying in the direction of the boy’s room, and his heart missed a beat. Then he saw an elderly doctor coming out of the room, looking perplexed. Why was there a great peace settling in his own heart?

All of a sudden, he felt Josaphata’s presence, and he understood. From that first morning the boy”s condition was unbelievably improving, and after two weeks he was sent home. Diagnosing it as a remission, they sent along a huge bag of medicine. But the boy refused to take it, saying “it made me sick.” Josaphata stood by her promise to intercede with God for those who asked her. When official church proceedings were underway for her beatification in 2001, the boy’s doctors testified under oath that they could not medically explain his complete recovery. Among them was the elderly doctor, now retired, who had looked most perplexed that first morning at the hospital; he was a specialist in the disease and in his treatment of more than a hundred similar cases, several had gone into remission only to die soon after.

The complete cure of this boy was accepted as the miracle required for the beatification of Blessed Josaphata Hordashevska, co-foundress of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate. Although he earlier had to sacrifice his musical career “to prepare the way for the Lord”, the priest later found his reward in the many poems and hymns he composed, personally and together with others, honouring Blessed Josaphata.

“Blessed Josaphata, pray for us!”

Back to the index ...