Theologians: Yes, the baby came back to life through the intercession of Fulton Sheen

It’s official! Another hurdle crossed before canonization.

The Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Bishop of Peoria and President of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, received word today that the seven-member theological commission who advise the Congregation of the Causes of Saints at the Vatican unanimously agreed that a reported miracle should be attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen. The case involved a stillborn baby born in September 2010. For over an hour the child demonstrated no signs of life as medical professionals attempted every possible life saving procedure, while the child’s parents and loved ones began immediately to seek the intercession of Fulton Sheen. After 61 minutes the baby was restored to full life and over three years later demonstrates a full recovery.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Bonnie Engstrom, the mother of that resurrected baby who grew into this happy, healthy guy:


Next up: the case is reviewed by cardinals and bishops, and then by Pope Francs himself.   Come onnnn, Fulton Sheen! Congratulatons, Engstrom family!

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  • Sheila C.

    Not to be a skeptic, but I’ve heard at least two stories in the news that went just like this – -only without the prayers. Newborns are oddly resilient and can “live” for quite awhile without a detectable pulse or breath, probably because their brains are suppressed during labor in order to weather the unavoidable reduction in oxygen.

    Now this is something science is only just beginning to explore; the process of birth is one of the “new frontiers” where science has a lot more to learn. But still, I’m not sure I’m entirely convinced by this miracle. Nothing against Fulton Sheen though!

    • simchafisher

      I take your point. I know very little about it, but I have two thoughts:

      One is that this is why the Church requires such thorough scrutiny of purported miracles. In one step of the process, a panel of medical experts questions the child’s doctors and other witnesses very thoroughly, and examine the evidence using the most up-to-date medical information. They didn’t just go, “Wait, he was all blue, and then he started breathing? Miracle!!”

      The second is that it is certainly possible that things seem supernatural to us, when in fact it’s just something rare but natural, and we just don’t understand how it works yet.- well, if another baby came “back to life” and no one was there audibly praying, that doesn’t mean there was no miraculous intervention. It just means that no one knows why these things happen. God doesn’t sit on his hands until he gets our permission to act, you know?

      • simchafisher

        Anyway, the Church certainly doesn’t require us to believe in most miracles. Even for stuff like Fatima, the Church just says we’re *allowed* to believe in it.

        • Mike

          although if you look into the miracle of the sun, it’s one strange story considering the thousands and thousands of ppl especially the anti-clerical press dispatched by the gov at the time…very strange occurence.

      • Sheila C.

        I agree with you … I don’t really need miracles to believe, because just the natural things God created seem “miraculous” enough to me.

        I complained to my husband about this and he laughed at me. He says one of Thomas Aquinas’ miracles was utterly ridiculous — that the monks thought they’d run out of fish, they prayed to St. Thomas, checked in one more cupboard, and lo and behold, they actually did have more fish after all!

        But no one says St. Thomas Aquinas doesn’t count …. he was one holy guy, and I guess people were just in a big hurry to get him canonized because they all knew he qualified.

        In short, it doesn’t really bother me. Can’t we find miracles anywhere, if we choose to? It’s not any less miraculous just because science can explain it, if that makes sense.

        • Mike

          I think it might have been Einstein who once remarked that you can either go through life as though everything is a miracle or as though nothing is.

          I agree with you that the fact that matter like carbon atoms can give rise to human beings with thoughts and mathematics and art is in itself more than enough reason to believe in miracles or God.

    • Mike

      The Baby Milagros story is even stranger check it out:

      she spent 12 hours in a morgue and lived to 14 months.

  • Donalbain

    Praise be to the dead guy! Doctors? What doctors?

    • simchafisher

      In most cases, when a life is saved, Catholics fully recognize that it is the skill and dedication of doctors who use natural means to save lives. We are grateful to them AND to God, because the doctors do the work, and God makes that work possible (by giving the doctors themselves life, and by making the world such that things like science and medicine are even possible).

      But in this particular case, the doctors who attended the birth said it was a miracle, too — not ‘Ohh, kootchy koo, it’s a miwacle baby, oh yes it is” but “What the hell happened here?!?” They could not find a single natural reason why the baby should be alive instead of dead. This is the opinion of the doctors who were there and who treated the baby through his recovery; and it’s the opinion of the medical experts who interviewed those doctors and other witnesses.

      It doesn’t detract from the doctors when we praise God for the life of a baby! We believe that all life comes from God. Sometimes it comes more directly than at other times.

      • Donalbain

        If there was no reason why the baby was resuscitated, why were the doctors still attempting to resuscitate it? But if your belief in magic makes you happy, then please continue.

        • simchafisher

          Wut? You are free to have an opinion about a story you haven’t read, even if it contradicts the testimony of the doctors who were present, but I’m not sure why you’d want to.

  • Nancy3159

    From my experience in pediatrics, children who were unresponsive for 61 minutes who then began to breathe on their own, with a heartbeat, would be neurologically devastated. They grow, but never develop, have no purposeful movements, require tube feedings and all sorts of other medical interventions to support them for a short life. They don’t look like that picture. That alone constitutes a miracle in my book.