Yesterday, the President of the Paulist Fathers and the Postulators for the Canonization Cause of our Paulist Founder, Servant of God Isaac Thomas Hecker, met with the Bishop of the diocese of Knoxville to request that he open a formal inquiry to investigate a possible healing and whether that healing might qualify as a miracle attributable to Fr. Hecker's intercession. The Bishop of Knoxville has responded with a Decree initiating a diocesan inquiry regarding the possible miracle.
Since Hecker died in New York (where he is buried in a monumental tomb in the Paulist “Mother Church” of Saint Paul the Apostle at 60th Street and Columbus Avenue), a diocesan inquiry into his reputation for holiness and heroic virtue has already been initiated there. If that case is judged sufficiently convincing, it will eventually go to the Holy See's Congregation of the Causes of Saints in Rome for further investigation. Meanwhile, a parallel process of investigation must take place in the diocese in which an alleged miracle may have occurred. If, after a thorough examination of the evidence in both documentary and oral testimony, the case for the miracle is determined to be sufficiently convincing, the judgment of the diocesan inquiry will also go to the Congregation of the Causes of Saints in Rome for a final adjudication. What must be demonstrated in these processes is that the healing in question cannot be adequately explained in any other natural way and that Hecker's intercession was specifically prayed for prior to the healing.
The authentication of a miracle would represent a judgment that invoking Isaac Hecker’s intercession appears pleasing to God, who is the ultimate source of healing. It would thus add further weight to the proposition that Hecker lived a life of heroic sanctity and ought in time to be beatified by the Church.
At a General Audience on January 13, 1988, Pope Saint John Paul II, spoke eloquently about the significance of miracles in the life of the Church:
The lives of the saints, the history of the Church and, in particular, the processes for the canonization of the Servants of God, constitute a documentation which, when submitted to the most searching examination of historical criticism and of medical science, confirms the existence of the ‘power from on high” which operates in the natural order and surpasses it. It is a question of miraculous “signs” carried out from apostolic times until the present day, and their essential purpose is to indicate that the human person is destined and called to the Kingdom of God. These “signs” therefore confirm in different ages and in the most varied circumstances the truth of the gospel, and demonstrate the saving power of Christ who does not cease to call people (through the Church) on the path of faith. This saving power of the God-man is manifested also when the “miracles-signs” are performed through the intercession of individuals, of saints, devout people – just as the first “sign” at Cana of Galilee was worked through the intercession of the Mother of Christ.”