This week the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach achieved another history-making milestone in the promotion of the cause to sainthood for Blessed Titus Brandsma, a Dutch Carmelite priest who was killed by the Nazis in 1942* (please see biography at the end of this release). For the past year and a half, the Diocese of Palm Beach has been investigating an alleged miraculous healing that occurred locally to a priest in the diocese and is attributed to Blessed Titus. On Tuesday, December 12, the diocese held the Official Closing Session of its investigation and this week will now send the findings of their extensive investigation to the Holy See. 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, the canonization will be declared, and the Catholic Church would have a new saint - Saint Titus Brandsma.
The promotion of the cause to sainthood of Blessed Brandsma is a history-making milestone for the Diocese of Palm Beach. Because the alleged miracle occurred in the territory of the diocese, the diocesan tribunal was a competent forum for the investigation, and it was tasked with investigating the medically unexplained healing and recovery from Stage 4 cancer of a Carmelite priest, Reverend Michael Driscoll, O.Carm., former pastor of St. Jude Church in Boca Raton. In 2004, Fr. Driscoll was diagnosed with a severe stage of malignant metastatic melanoma, an aggressive cancer that was attacking different parts of his body, with some areas of the cancer already in the fourth stage. Fr. Driscoll underwent more than 30 treatments and the odds remained against him. Yet as a sincere devotee of Fr. Brandsma, he prayed for healing through the intercession of Blessed Brandsma. Also praying were members of the Order of Carmelites, parishioners of St. Jude Church, friends, family and the faithful from around the Diocese of Palm Beach.
Doctors have stated Fr. Driscoll's cancer is now gone and have said his good health over the past 12 years defies all odds. They have stated his healing and recovery from Stage 4 cancer cannot be explained medically.
The Diocese of Palm Beach’s opened its investigation into Fr. Driscoll’s alleged healing miracle in July 2016. Following the required canonical procedure for canonization, the Church’s investigation of a saint’s life and death is a lengthy, meticulous process that involves hours of interviews with witnesses and documentation. Evidence must be presented to convince officials in the Vatican’s office for declaring saints, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, that the candidate, in fact, lived a virtuous life, had faith and had the support and help of God. Miracles are evidence that God is working through that person. Public and private writings of the proposed saint must also be gathered and examined.
As part of the investigation, Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop Palm Beach, appointed Right Reverend Archimandrite Glen Pothier, the diocese’s Judicial Vicar, to serve as the Episcopal Delegate to lead the inquiry. Very Reverend Albert Dello Russo, the diocese’s Chancellor, served as the Promoter of Justice. In his role Fr. Dello Russo attested that everything prescribed by law in the investigation process has been faithfully observed, which includes interrogations, testimony and documents, pro and con. On the part of the Order of Carmelites, Very Reverend J. Mario Esposito, O.Carm., was appointed vice-postulator in this cause.
The investigation also requires the involvement and assistance of a medical expert, which for the diocesan inquiry was Dr. Anthony Dardano, M.D., as well as an Ecclesiastical Notary, Mrs. Elizabeth Shields, who had to verify and notarize every single document of the investigation – all 1,232 pages. The pages were copied and stored in two boxes, and sealed in a certain manner, ensuring that they may only be opened by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The original documents remain in the archives of the Diocese of Palm Beach.
Similar to the Formal Opening Session, this week’s Formal Closing Session involved prayers, recognitions, the presenting of documents, signing and sealing of paperwork, and the taking of oaths by those involved in the investigation as part of the stringent and important Church proceedings. Also in attendance were Carmelite priests and some parishioners from St. Jude Church, Carmelite religious sisters from Noreen McKeen in West Palm Beach, and diocesan officials.
There is no set time limit for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to make a recommendation regarding the alleged unexplained medical healing of Fr. Driscoll, whether the healing can, in fact, be attributed to Blessed Titus or if Blessed Titus would be declared a new saint of the Catholic Church. The review and decision process by the Holy See can take months or years.
Because of the historic process of the Cause for Sainthood of Blessed Titus, there is naturally great interest among those living within the Diocese of Palm Beach to learn about the process, Blessed Titus’ life, and Fr. Driscoll illness, so the diocese created a special web page -- www.diocesepb.org/titusocarm - where one can visit to learn more and view photos. There is also information on the Titus Brandsma Center in Holland.
The Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach encompasses the five counties of Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee. Comprised of 225,749 Catholics in 53 parishes and missions, the Diocese also serves the faithful community through its elementary, middle and high schools.
*A Brief Biography on Blessed Brandsma
Father Brandsma, a Dutch Carmelite, distinguished teacher, lecturer, journalist and adviser for Catholic editors and newspapers in Holland, was killed by the Nazis, who invaded the country in 1940. He was dedicated to the mission of the Church and put his life on the line defending faith and freedom of the Catholic press. He fought against the promotion of Nazi propaganda in newspapers as required by German law and the spread of Nazi ideology. He also defended the right of the Church to educate students sent to Catholic schools, including non-Catholics. He was arrested in January 1942.
He was eventually sent to Dachau concentration camp in Germany, where he joined 2,700 other imprisoned clergy, most of them Catholic priests. Witnesses at the camp later gave testimony saying that Father Brandsma never hesitated to witness his faith and his love of God, even praying for the guards who tortured him and the nurse who finally killed him.
Six months after arriving at Dachau, he was placed in the camp hospital where he was a subject for medical experimentation. He died July 26, 1942, after an injection of carbolic acid. He was 61. The nurse who gave him the lethal injection later testified that Father Brandsma had prayed for her. Some reports say that he gave her his rosary and asked her to pray, and that the nurse, a fallen Catholic, experienced a conversion.
Father Brandsma was declared a martyr of the Catholic Church and beatified in Rome by St. John Paul II in November 1985. Since then, the promotion of his cause for sainthood has been in progress.
Find more information at www.diocesepb.org/titusocarm