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(NECN: Greg Wayland, Marshfield, Mass.) - Miracle in Massachusetts. A Marshfield man once debilitated by crippling spinal pain says he is now healed thanks to a miracle. And it seems the Catholic Church agrees. John Sullivan says he prayed to a renowned nineteenth century Catholic Cardinal and now is free of pain. It's springtime and John Sullivan has been doing some gardening his little patch out back of his Marshfield, Mass home. Sullivan is seventy years old, a native of South Boston. He says he briefly lost his Catholic faith in college, then came back to the Church, married, raised three children and worked all his life in the public sector. Nine years ago, he decided he'd like to be a Deacon at his parish church in Pembroke, Mass. and began a lengthy course of theological studies. Those studies were interrupted suddenly in early 2000 by crippling back pain. Doctors told him he had a serious spinal condition. He faced either serious, risky surgery or the possibility of paralysis. He was depressed and frightened. He happened upon a global Catholic Network where two scholars were discussing the cause for the beatification of 19th Century Catholic theologian and cardinal, John Henry Newman. “I listened to them and at the end of the program it flashed on the screen that if I received or anyone received any divine favors to contact the postulator for the cause of Newman's beatification at Birmingham, England, the oratory there. So, what have I got to lose?” He says he prayed to Newman that night. “The following day I woke up, no pain. No pain at all. His doctor was baffled but told him to resume his studies for the Deaconate. Then, a year later, a setback. The pain came back, as severe as it had been prior. Again agreed to risky surgery. But first resorted to prayer. “So after five days in bed and having tried to walk and couldn't, the fifth day I said a prayer to Newman, the same prayer I said the first time. ' Cardinal Newman, pray to God, help me to walk so I can return to classes and be ordained. That was the prayer. Again, the spinal pressure ceased. The pain vanished. Again, his doctor was baffled. “I said, do you have any medical explanation, what happened? -- And he said, Jack, I have no medical explanation for you. And there's no medical or scientific reason why your pain stopped for eight months the first time and why you were suddenly pain-free and healed.” Sullivan wrote down his story for the British Postulator, or overseer, for the British postulator -- or overseer -- of the cause for Newman's beatification -- the first step toward sainthood after what Vatican officials insist is a rigorous review by Non-Catholic and Catholic doctors. investigative portion of John Sullivan's case is now completed -- the investigation by the doctors and the theologians. But that is not the end of the process. Newman's beatification must still be approved by Pope Benedict XVI, provided it is first approved by the Vatican's Congregation for the Cause of Saints. Sullivan said he knew nothing much about Newman before praying to him. “I knew that he was a famous theologian, Anglican churchman that converted to Catholicism, was made a Cardinal.” Newman's conversion was a scandal in 19th Century England. “To be a Catholic was something to be frowned on. And there were very few Catholics in England at the time. And yet he had the courage to face that challenge.” Now some people will see this and they'll say, look, I prayed real hard to my favorite saint. I prayed and prayed and prayed, and nothing happened. It didn't change. I stayed sick. The cancer didn't go away, the injury didn't heal, what do you say to people like that? John: Jesus chose to redeem the world -- of all the ways to do it -- through suffering. Life is meant to be lived heroically. To face challenges. And it's easier to face these challenges, to persevere in these challenges -- because that's what cements our faith. And Sullivan is fond of a famous lines Newman wrote during his own deep crisis of faith. "Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom. ...The night is dark, and I am far from home.