Lockport woman says Pope John Paul II behind miracle cure
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org April 26, 2011 7:04PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
LOCKPORT — Mary Kern says a miracle cured her of eyelid spasms that could have caused blindness.
That miracle, she says, came in 2009 after her prayers to the late Pope John Paul II that asked him to intercede on her behalf before God.
Now the Lockport woman is petitioning the Vatican to have her miracle recognized as a grounds to elevate John Paul to sainthood.
This Sunday, John Paul will be beatified based upon a miracle reported in France. That brings the former pontiff one step closer to sainthood.
A second confirmed miracle — and Kern is hoping it is hers — would make John Paul eligible for full sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
Kern prays to God every day. She had a strong prayer life before her illness struck in 2006. In 2008, she began to pray particularly for healing. And since her healing in 2009, she has prayed every day in gratitude.
“I had a good prayer life before this, but this has made me more aware of miracles in life, miracles in other people’s lives that they take for granted,” Kern said. “It makes me more aware of the goodness of God, of the greatness of God, and that he does answer prayers — not always in the way we want them, but he does answer prayers.”
Faith amid difficulty
Harold and Mary Kern raised their family in the Roman Catholic Church in South Holland. They moved to Palos Park in 1990, and to Lockport in 2006.
The Kerns have four children and 11 grandchildren. Mary has been in the church her entire life.
“I’ve been a Catholic since I’ve been baptized, and I’ve always gone to church,” she said.
Mary began having eyelid spasms in 2006. The spasms would close her eyes completely, so that she could not see.
Neither an optometrist nor her family doctor could identify the condition. An ophthalmologist identified the condition as benign essential blepharospasm — and he sent Mary to another ophthalmologist who specialized in surgery around the eyes, plus eyelids, Mary said.
Mary said the doctor told her the condition was incurable, and that the only way to stop the spasms was to have Botox injections every two to three months.
The injections caused discomfort and the spasms would return before the end of the two- to three-month interval, meaning Mary could not drive. And on top of that, there was the possibility that one day Mary could suffer functional blindness.
“I never really thought too much about that because I kept thinking, ‘The injections are going to help me.’” Mary said.
Those injections continued for two years, with the same pattern. She would feel healthy after the injection, but the spasms eventually would return.
She came to an acceptance of her illness during this time period.
“I accepted that,” she said. “I accepted that, just as the gift I’ve been given. I do that with a great deal of humility.”
Prayers for healing
In 2008, Mary began to pray to Pope John Paul II, for intercession to God for the healing of her eyelids.
Healing did not come immediately. In fact, things took a turn for the worse.
In December 2008, the injection did not work.
“My eyelids were in spasms, they were watery, they were sensitive to the light,” Mary said.
She had Harold take a picture of her eyelids, to document her condition for the ophthalmologist.
“That was the most horrible picture I’ve seen of myself. I wanted to document for the doctor to see how bad it actually got,” she said.
Her condition made for a difficult holiday season, as she went through Christmas with the injections not working.
However, she never got depressed. She kept praying.
Her ophthalmologist said he would give her another injection — this one on Jan. 5, 2009.
Her eyelid spasms stopped on that day, and never returned, she said.
Mary considers it a miracle, but she did not notice it immediately. As she continued in her daily prayers, she began to notice that the spasms were not returning as they once had.
By April 2009, she became convinced that a miracle had happened. This condition was supposed to be incurable. This condition was supposed to require injections for the rest of her life. This condition was supposed to have threatened permanent blindness.
Instead, Mary said Tuesday, she received a lasting cure that continues to this day.
“By April, I knew that John Paul had worked a miracle, and that it probably had to be Jan. 5 of 2009,” she said.
Harold and Mary Kern remember taking their three oldest children to see Pope John Paul II in October 1979 during his visit to Grant Park in Chicago.
John Paul’s legacy has lasted long after his death in April 2005, the couple says.
“He was a holy man. He was a pope of the people,” Mary said. “He didn’t just stay in Rome. He went all over the world.”
“He brought the church to the people and made it easier for people to relate to God through his papacy,” Harold said.
Shortly after John Paul’s death, Mary began to pray to him for intercession to God.
And she continues to pray today — in gratitude to God — two years after her healing. The Kerns attend St. Dennis Church in Lockport, and also have attended St. Joseph Church in the past.
Mary acknowledges the providence of God in her life, and the need to pray in good times as well as bad.
“My prayers and faith have gotten me through many, many things in life, through a lot of rough spots,” she said, “but also through a lot of wonderful spots.”