Sarah Maples, a friend of Casa Juan Diego and an advocate for the canonization of Dorothy Day, died at her home near Athens, Oklahoma on March 11, 2017. She was 67.
In 2009, when Sarah was suffering from a brain tumor and had been given a terminal diagnosis, her friend Dr. Richard Fossey began to pray for her healing by invoking the intercession of Dorothy Day. Soon Sarah herself began asking Dorothy’s assistance.
Sarah received experimental cancer treatment at the Mayo Clinic. Sarah said that while the other patients receiving the same treatment declined, went on hospice, and died, Sarah’s own tumor began to shrink. Eventually it disappeared completely, and even the scar began to shrink. While other patients suffered deficits in speech, gait, reasoning, hearing, and eyesight, Sarah was without side effects but for some short-term memory loss. Sarah remained cancer free for five years. She reported that once she reached her “five-year mark in March 2014”, she entered “the general population and have no more chance of dying of a brain tumor than anyone else.”
“To me my healing is a miracle from Dorothy Day,” Sarah said.
During her illness and treatment, Sarah was drawn to attend Mass and learn about the Catholic faith. She wrote, “When we travelled to other towns, I would seek out the Catholic Masses to attend. I loved the ritual, the music, the buildings, and the incense. I liked that what we were saying in Mass was being said all over the world on the same day.” Sarah visited Casa Juan Diego in 2011 and shared the story of her healing and her continuing journey of faith. Eventually, Sarah decided to become a Catholic. At Easter 2013, she received her First Communion and was confirmed, taking “Dorothy” as her confirmation name.
In 2014, Sarah was diagnosed with a second brain tumor, which eventually led to her death. Sarah wrote of how she was welcomed into her church in Antlers, Oklahoma. We know she has now been welcomed into the community of saints in heaven.
Houston Catholic Worker, July-September 2017, Vol. XXXVI, No. 3