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Doctor lent scapular to man “cured” by Blessed Solanus Casey

Nolan Ostrowski

Diocese of Lansing | YouTube | Fair Use

Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP - Zelda Caldwell - published on 11/13/21

The Michigan man recovered from COVID after saying he was visited by the late Capuchin priest.

When Dr. Eustace Fernandes visited walked into Nolan Ostrowski’s room in Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne Indiana, he was surprised to see a picture of Blessed Solanus Casey on the ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) or artificial lung that was helping Ostrowski stay alive.

Ostrowski was suffering from a severe lung injury related to COVID-19. He had been diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Recognizing the picture of the saintly priest, Fernandes recalls asking Ostrowski’s wife, who works for the diocese of Lansing: “Did you know he lived just down the road from here in Huntington, Indiana?” 

A “miracle” cure

As reported at Aleteia, Ostrowski was airlifted to the hospital, only 20 miles from where Bl. Solanus lived. That coincidence was not lost on Ostrowski’s wife. In the days before her husband was transferred to the hospital he told her that he had witnessed a figure in brown robes who appeared to be the very same priest, Bl. Solanus Casey visit him in his hospital room.

Ostrowski described the first of two visitations from the holy man to the Diocese of Lansing:

“And then, one night, I was sitting there and I woke up and I felt like there was a lot of darkness around me, a lot of despair over me, and I noticed there was somebody sitting at the side of my headboard and I couldn’t turn to see who it was – all I could see were their legs, and his brown robe and, at that time, I thought it was my guardian angel,” said Ostrowski, according to the report at the Diocese of Lansing website.

 A month later, Ostrowski had experienced what he believes was a miraculous recovery, and was able to return to his family on October 1.

“And the other doctors in the ICU, they said it was a miracle and they couldn’t believe how well I was doing. They took me off the ventilator. I was able to breathe on my own, non-stop. They didn’t have to put me back on it [during the day]. And they said that never happens,” said Ostrowski.

The brown scapular

In an interview with Aleteia, looking back on Ostrowski time at his hospital, Fernandes recalls that he found the saint’s image comforting. He says, “The saint’s presence made everyone feel better. It helped us remember that we were approaching Nolan’s care as a whole person, with a spiritual dimension to his recovery. That moved me.”

Then something happened that made the doctor grateful that he was a Catholic.

One day, in the course of his hospitalization, Ostrowski was very upset. Fernandes describes him that day as “despondent.” He couldn’t clearly communicate his frustration, nurses tried in vain to determine what he was talking about. This was not typical for Ostrowski.

So they called the doctor. Fernandes was able to discern that Ostrowski wanted a scapular. “I wear a scapular,” says Fernandes, “and I was able to take it off and give it to him.” The physician says, “We were able to place the scapular on him.” It was such an important consolation, says Fernandes. “It brought immediate peace. “

“As a physician, this was interesting to me,” says Fernandes. He recalled, “When we began with COVID, everyone was afraid. We didn’t know how it was transmitted.” “I was in the COVID ICU with a brand new nurse and I noticed her wearing a scapular,” says Fernandes. “I had taken mine off, but I noticed hers and asked why she kept it on. The nurse replied, ‘If Our Lady isn’t with me through this whole thing, who else is with me?’”

“It was the kind of humiliation I needed,” says Ostrowski. “I put my scapular back on that night and I hadn’t taken it off until I gave it to Nolan.”

Fernandes still has the scapular. “I saw Nolan the day before he left to go to our rehab hospital. He gave me my scapular back, telling me to keep it for the next patient.” Fernandes has continued to wear it, believing that he’ll need it again.

“It’s been such a hard year,” Ferandes says, growing more serious. “I just can’t emphasize enough how much these little lights mean. I go back to these moments with God and they make hard things easier.”

Read more about Nolan Ostrowski’s account of his visit from Bl. Solanus Casey. 

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