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Priest’s Brother Healed Through Prayers to Dorothy Day: A Letter

Greetings Friends at the Houston Catholic Worker,

I just thought I’d tell you of my brother’s healing.

Last year, doctors said my 72 year old brother Paul had a serious heel-bone infection which caused the achilles tendon to tear off the heel bone. Doctors said they needed to do a biopsy to confirm their diagnosis. Paul refused. Doctors said he needed an amputation to ensure he not lose his life but, again, Paul refused. He asked that the doctors continue with massive amounts of intravenous antibiotics which they had already started and said that he would place himself in God’s hands. A palliative care team spent an hour with him and me to help him prepare for the possibility of his dying. Doctors discharged him to the nursing home where he was residing to continue the antibiotic regimen which lasted for six weeks. We made frequent trips to the infectious disease department of the hospital along with visits to the podiatry department. Fre-quent x-rays were taken..

I was very distraught that he refused the biopsy but understood his decision not to have the amputation. On balance I thought I would do the same thing. Nonetheless, I thought he might die.

A few days later I saw an article talking about Dorothy Day’s cause for sainthood. I’ve long been connected with the Catholic Worker in Chicago and Dorothy’s spirituality in which it is rooted. I also knew of her cause for sainthood and had mixed feelings about it, given Dorothy’s request that she not be dismissed so easily when some called her a saint.

I should say at the outset that I do not pray to saints. It’s just not my spirituality. Nonetheless, perhaps in desperation, I told God that if it be your will that Dorothy be canonized, I would pray to you through her for Paul’s healing, especially because Dorothy seems to be a mother for marginal persons like him.

I told one of Paul’s private caregivers — a Nigerian man, a Muslim — that Paul might die, and he said, “He won’t die; we won’t let him.” Still at a latter date he told me that doctors are not God.

Now these many months later, the infection in Paul’s heels seems to be gone. The huge ulcers on both heels, the source of the bone infection, have healed over and all indications seem to show that the infection is gone despite doctor’s initially saying the bone couldn’t heal because there was no blood flow in the area of the infection.

While this might be seen as a miracle attributed to Dorothy’s intercession, I should say there is no actual proof (biopsy) that Paul had an infection. All I know is that he is now engaged in very modest physical therapy including very short walks (about 30-40 feet) every other day using a walker with assistance by a nurses’ assistant.

For my part, I have told others of this “miracle” in gratitude to God through, it seems, Dorothy’s intercession. I personally believe that Dorothy is a holy person, not a plastic saint we place on the mantle, but one whom we should try to emulate.

Thanks be to God.

(Fr.) Bob Bossie, SCJ


Houston Catholic Worker, November-December 2013, Vol. XXXIV, No. 5.