Michigan COVID-19 survivor says vision of the Blessed Solanus Casey saved his life – Frederick News Post

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Nolan Ostrowski at his home Nov. 10 in Eaton Rapids, Mich. While being hospitalized, Ostrowski saw the legs of a man wearing a brown robe near his bed.
People visit the Blessed Solanus Museum at the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit, Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 10.
Parishioners kneel and pray at the casket of Blessed Solanus Casey Nov. 10 after attending the Blessing of the Sick Mass in the Bonaventure Chapel of the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit.
Parishioners kneel and pray at the casket of Blessed Solanus Casey after attending the Blessing of the Sick Mass in the Bonaventure Chapel of the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit, Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 10.
Fr. Gebreyesus Boyine, OFM Cap. offers a blessing with the relic of the True Cross during the Blessing of the Sick Mass in the Bonaventure Chapel of the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit, Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Features Editor
Nolan Ostrowski at his home Nov. 10 in Eaton Rapids, Mich. While being hospitalized, Ostrowski saw the legs of a man wearing a brown robe near his bed.
People visit the Blessed Solanus Museum at the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit, Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 10.
Parishioners kneel and pray at the casket of Blessed Solanus Casey Nov. 10 after attending the Blessing of the Sick Mass in the Bonaventure Chapel of the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit.
Parishioners kneel and pray at the casket of Blessed Solanus Casey after attending the Blessing of the Sick Mass in the Bonaventure Chapel of the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit, Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 10.
Fr. Gebreyesus Boyine, OFM Cap. offers a blessing with the relic of the True Cross during the Blessing of the Sick Mass in the Bonaventure Chapel of the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit, Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 10.
Nolan Ostrowski felt as if death were close at hand.
“I felt a lot of despair and a lot of darkness over me,” said Ostrowski, 52, who was hospitalized in late July with COVID-19 at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan. “When I closed my eyes, it was like death was coming.”
He began to pray, thinking of his wife, Kathleen, and their three children. That’s when he saw the legs of a man wearing a brown robe near his bed.
“I thought he was my guardian angel,” said Ostrowski, a carpenter who lives in Eaton Rapids. “There was a certain comfort in that.”
He couldn’t make out the man’s full figure, but seeing him there brought Ostrowski peace.
Though he didn’t know it at the time, Ostrowski’s family was praying for his recovery and asking the Blessed Solanus Casey, a Capuchin priest who worked for two decades at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit and who has been said to heal the sick, to intercede.
Casey, who founded the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, died in 1957, but in the years since, reports have streamed in from people who say he has continued to answer their prayers, interceding on their behalf to help heal sickness, reunify troubled families and help people overcome addiction, said the Rev. Edward Foley, a Capuchin priest who is the vice postulator for the canonization cause of Blessed Solanus.
“There have been thousands of favors that have been reported thousands after he died in ‘57 … but Rome has recognized one miracle,” Foley said.
That miracle was acknowledged by Pope Francis in 2017, when Casey was beatified following the healing of Paula Medina Zarate, a retired teacher from Panama. She prayed in 2012 at Casey’s tomb in Detroit, and afterward, the genetic skin condition that had plagued her most of her life vanished.
It was the first step in Casey’s path to sainthood. July 30 was chosen as Casey’s feast day. That also happens to be the same day Ostrowski saw the brown-robed figure by his hospital bed for the first time.
“My mother went and lit a candle and prayed to him for me at her home church in Royal Oak,” Ostrowski said. “My father-in-law … went to his church and did the same thing.”
The next day, Ostrowski said he told his wife what he’d seen. And he learned that his loved ones were asking Casey to intercede.
“I didn’t know that he was who he was,” Ostrowski said.
The next night, Ostrowski woke yet again to feel the darkness surrounding him. But this time, he said, he could see the man in the brown robe more clearly. The man he believes was Casey was sitting in a chair at the foot of his bed.
“I could see who he was. It was pretty startling at the time,” Ostrowski said. “He looked very plain. … He didn’t look like a ghost or anything like that. The most startling thing to me was how still he was.”
The man was statuelike, he said. Ostrowski prayed for his healing, but it wasn’t until he made a bargain that the man in the brown robe moved.
“I said, ‘I’ll make you a deal. If you get me out of this, if you save me, I’ll never use God’s name in vain again.’ And it was like he had won the lotto, is the best way I can explain it, because he just became overjoyed,” Ostrowski said.
“He jumped up. And then he came running around the bed. … It was like he was floating. … I lifted my arm a little bit and he touched me under my arm and touched me at the bottom of my rib cage with his finger. … Then he just stepped back. I felt this very calm and comfortable feeling come over me, where I felt confident that I was going to be OK.”
Dr. Karen Kent VanGorder, Sparrow’s chief medical and quality officer, said it’s the first time a patient has reported seeing a vision of Casey at the hospital.
“We actively participate in spiritual healing for our patients and offer them many resources. We are delighted the patient made a full recovery,” she said. “Sparrow as an entity and I as CMO would never discount spirituality in healing. I, as a doctor, have seen spiritual health play a factor in patients recovering or not recovering.”
Despite the visions and the feelings of comfort and calm Ostrowski said he felt, his physical condition continued to worsen after he saw the man in the brown robe.
By Aug. 3, doctors said he needed a ventilator and he was put into a medically induced coma. Soon after, his wife was told Ostrowski needed the support of an artificial heart-lung device called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, or ECMO, to survive because his heart and his lungs were too weak to keep him alive.
But Sparrow doesn’t offer ECMO treatment for patients who are that critically ill. And no hospitals in Michigan had beds available to treat Ostrowski with the potentially lifesaving device, he said.
His doctor widened the search, while his wife continued to pray.
That’s when the family learned that a hospital in Indiana had an available ECMO device and was willing to take him.
“It seemed like God was opening doors for me, you know, and Father Solanus Casey,” Ostrowski said. “Every issue that … occurred was always overcome by something that was … out of our control and more divine.”
Ostrowski, who has diabetes and was unvaccinated when he contracted the virus, remained on the ECMO machine for six weeks at a hospital in Indiana. He was later released to a rehabilitation center and finally was able to return to his home in Eaton Rapids in early September.
He spoke with a deacon at his church and a priest in the Diocese of Lansing about the man in the brown robe who brought him hope when he had little in his hospital bed.
“Throughout his earthly life, Father Solanus Casey was well known across Michigan, and far beyond, as a saintly wonder worker who had a particular love for the sick and, hence, it’s really not surprising that Blessed Solanus Casey continues to work wonders for those who continue to ask for his Heavenly assistance,” said David Kerr, a spokesman for the Diocese of Lansing.
However what happened to Ostrowski isn’t considered a miracle by investigators in the Catholic Church, but rather a favor. Such a designation could propel Casey to sainthood.
Foley explained that in cases like these, the Catholic Church works with independent medical experts to determine whether there could be a medical explanation for healing that has occurred.
Although Foley said he can’t usually speak about individual cases or investigations, he said Ostrowski has publicly said that his circumstances don’t qualify as a miracle by the Vatican’s standards.
“Physicians looked at the case and said that there was a medical explanation” for Ostrowski’s recovery, Foley said. “He has actually said that publicly. … Otherwise, I would not be able to tell you that.”
What happened to Ostrowski, he said, will be included in a file being used to build a case for Casey’s canonization.
Casey’s supporters have been hoping for a second official miracle, which in most circumstances is when a beatified person can be elevated to sainthood.
“The pope has the prerogative about dispensing with a second miracle if he chooses,” Foley said. “But the ordinary process is that you have one miracle recognized by Rome for the beatification and then … we need a second miracle that occurred after the date.”
The pope, however, has granted sainthood to martyrs who had never performed any miracles at all, Foley said.
Even if what happened to Ostrowski isn’t recognized as a miracle by the church, it’s miraculous to him.
“It was divine intervention,” Ostrowski said. “And I believe that as much of a miracle as it was that he presented himself to me and, and touched me, that was only one part of the story. I think, from the beginning of this all the way through to the end of it, there was intervention.”
Ostrowski took his wife and his children to the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit recently, which further solidified his commitment to seeing Casey canonized, to spreading the word of his healing and to raising his children in the faith.
“My children kneeled down at his grave and prayed, and I thought … if there’s any reason for him to have given me this chance, this was it.
“I was overwhelmed with … how special that moment was.”
Features Editor
Lauren LaRocca is features editor at the Frederick News-Post and also works as an herbalist and astrologer.
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