On Tuesday, December 12, 2017 the official closing session of the Diocesan phase of the investigation into an alleged miracle that took place in the Diocese of Palm Beach that was attributed to the intercession of Blessed Titus Brandsma took place in the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola of the Palm Beach Diocese. Most Reverend Gerald Barbarito, Bishop of Palm Beach presided over the closing session. Present for the session were: Very Rev. Michael Kissane, O.Carm., Prior Provincial of the Carmelites, Very Rev. Mario Esposito, O.Carm. Vice-Postulator, Right Reverend Archimandrite Glen Pothier, J.C.L., Episcopal Delegate and Chancellor of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Very Rev. Albert Dello Russo, J.C.L. Promoter of Justice, Mrs Elizabeth Shields, Ecclesiastical Notary and Dr Anthony Dardano, M.D. who served as the Medical Expert for the Cause.
The miraculous healing is based upon the recovery from severe cancer by Fr. Michael Driscoll, O.Carm. In 2004 Fr. Michael was diagnosed with a severe stage of metastatic melanoma cancer that was attacking his neck area behind the ear and spreading to other parts of his body. Some areas of the cancer were in the fourth and fifth stages. As a devotee of Fr. Titus Brandsma, he prayed for healing through the intercession of Father Brandsma. Members of the Carmelite Order, parishioners of St. Jude, friends, family and the faithful from around the diocese offered prayers as well.
Fr. Michael underwent surgery and numerous treatments which at times were harsh. Through it all Fr. Michael continued to pray telling all he met that he was “determined to fight”. His determination amazed others around him. When asked by others if he was afraid of his fate, Fr. Michael would state “I am OK because Titus is going to take care of me.”
Doctors have stated Fr. Michael’s cancer is now gone and are amazed at his recovery. His good health over the past years defies all odds. The diocesan investigation was a very meticulous process in which evidence is presented and witnesses are interviewed and questioned, including medical experts. The investigation involved many questions, depositions and documents. Now that the work is done, the information will be sent to the Vatican. If the case is deemed by the Vatican to be a miracle that occurred through the intercession of Blessed Titus Brandsma and Pope Francis approves, Blessed Titus Brandsma will be canonized.
Blessed Titus Brandsma was born in the Frisian city of Bolsward, Holland, in 1881. He joined the Carmelites while still young and was ordained a priest in 1905. He undertook further studies in Rome and was awarded a doctorate in philosophy at the Gregorian Pontifical University.
Returning to Holland, he taught in a number of schools before taking up a post as Professor of Philosophy and the History of Mysticism at the Catholic University of Nijmegen where he was later appointed Rector Magnificus. A noted writer and journalist, in 1935, he was appointed adviser to the bishops, for Catholic journalists. He was noted for being ready to receive anyone in difficulty and to help in whatever way he could. In the period leading up to and during the Nazi occupation in Holland, he argued passionately against the National Socialist ideology, basing his stand on the Gospels, and he defended the right to freedom in education and for the Catholic Press.
As a result, he was imprisoned. This began his “Calvary” – a time that involved great personal suffering and degradation. At the same time, he himself brought solace and comfort to the other prisoners and begged God’s blessing on his jailers. In the midst of such inhuman suffering, he possessed the precious ability to bring an awareness of goodness, love and peace. He passed from one prison or camp to another until he arrived in Dachau where he was killed on 26th July 1942. He was beatified as a martyr by Pope John Paul II on 3rd November 1985.
During the ceremony, all the officials who worked on the cause signed the documents and swore an oath that they had faithfully fulfilled the responsibility assigned to them in the course of the investigation. Bishop Barbarito then decreed that the Acts be closed and sealed, and all the officials involved signed and witnessed this act.
At the conclusion of the session, Fr. Michael Kissane, O.Carm. shared greetings from the Prior General, Fernando Millan Romeral who could not be present for the event. Fr. Fernando was scheduled to attend the original closing session which was to be held on September 13 that had to be cancelled because of an approaching hurricane.
A special thanks was also extended to all who worked on this investigation. Fr. Mario Esposito, O.Carm. serves as the vice postulator for the cause and organized the event with the assistance of officials in the Diocese of Palm beach, the St. Elias Province of Carmelites and the staff of St. Jude Church in Boca Raton, Florida.
Certainly, the possible canonization of Blessed Titus Brandsma will be a tremendous moment for the Order and Church, as Blessed Titus is a martyr for the faith, a patron of Catholic journalists, teacher and doctor of Spirituality and Mysticism and a man of heroic forgiveness. His possible canonization would bring new vitality and life to the Order and its contemporary relevance in Titus’ native Holland, in the United States and around the globe. Let us continue to pray for the success of the Cause as it now is reviewed by the Vatican experts.