3.12.2006

Catholic Church Calls It a 'Miracle'
Recipient Calls It 'Um...Ok, Whatever'

Literally a Miracle?

from NWI Times

Phil McCord is a hands-on kind of guy.

"If I can touch it, I can understand it," said the 59-year-old former director of engineering at Porter hospital.

So imagine how perplexed McCord has been for the past several years, as he grappled with something not only intangible but also mystifying: a miracle.

The inexplicable healing of McCord's right eye in 2000 was deemed a miracle by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in 2003 and a committee of medical experts and theologians in 2005. They attributed the act to Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin, the founder of the Sisters of Providence in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., where McCord now works.

McCord's eyesight is the second of two miracles needed for Mother Theodore's canonization, effectively clearing her path to sainthood. The only step that remains is Pope Benedict XVI's stamp of approval, which is expected in April.

The developments in the nearly century-long process has elated the Sisters of Providence and left McCord stupefied.

"All I know is the sequences of events that took place and the results," he said, "so I'll let others come to an explanation of it."

McCord, who has described himself as "blind as a bat," wore glasses since the age of 6. His vision grew increasingly worse with age and, in the late 1990s, he developed cataracts in both eyes.

In September of 2000, he had successful surgery on his left eye. A month later, however, he experienced severe complications when the same procedure was done on his right eye.

With extreme swelling and a droopy eyelid, McCord was unable to see from his right eye. His ophthalmologist advised him to consult a specialist in Indianapolis, who said McCord needed a cornea transplant. The diagnosis, with its long recovery time and questionable success rate, frightened McCord.

During a stroll across the grounds in late 2000, McCord wandered into the congregation's chapel. He went not to pray, but to have a conversation with God about his condition.

"As a little tangent, I went on to Mother Theodore," he said. "I just wanted to cover all the bases."

Two weeks later, he returned to his eye specialist feeling optimistic. Much to both the doctor's and McCord's surprise, the astounded doctor told McCord he no longer needed the surgery. An elated McCord returned Terre Haute, where he lives, had a short procedure to remove residual scar tissue and his vision returned.

McCord mentioned his recovery to one of the Sisters of Providence who had a similar eye condition.

"That's a miracle," she said.

"Yes it is," McCord replied - later adding, "not having the slightest idea of what the implications were."

Although McCord didn't take it seriously, the sisters did. Sister Ann Margaret O'Hara and other nuns - nearly a century into the canonization process for Mother Theodore - began the miracle certification process, which required lengthy depositions from McCord's doctors and family members, as well as examinations with doctors unfamiliar to McCord's case.

Mother Theodore's postulator, or the person representing the case to Vatican officials, then took the case to physicians in Rome. After their approval, a panel of theologians conducted their own investigation. On Feb. 21, the Ordinary Congregation of the Cardinals in Rome declared the act was attributable to Mother Theodore's intercession and therefore qualified as a miracle.

The Sisters of Providence were overjoyed. McCord, however, has wrestled with the "miracle" moniker for years.

"I wasn't cured of cancer or something that major," he said. "There have been so many other things that have happened that are attributable to Mother Theodore. This really didn't seem to rise to that."

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