Diocesan News

Miracle recipient dies at 61

LINCOLN (SNR) - Lincoln resident Michael Mencer, 61, died Dec. 13.

As a child, the curing of Mencer’s illness was attributed to the intercession of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, and later pronounced a miracle by the Vatican.

At the age of 7, Mencer was considered legally blind due to juvenile macular degeneration, a condition which severely limited his vision and hindered his participation in school, sports and other typical youth activities. All medical treatments were unsuccessful.

The Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, N.J., Mencer’s teachers in grade school, had prayed for his cure and presented him with a holy card and relic of Sister Miriam. As Mencer was preparing to study Braille, the condition suddenly disappeared, with no plausible medical explanation.

After his eyesight was restored, his mother presented the situation in a letter to the Sisters of Charity. Unfortunately, the letter to the Sisters of Charity was misplaced and lost for 25 years. Upon its discovery, the letter was submitted to the Vatican for consideration as a miracle.

After more than 16 years of exhaustive medical queries, records reviews and interviews of specialists, the Vatican pronounced the restoration of Mencer’s eyesight a miracle. Without a known medical explanation, the unexplained cure was attributed to the intercession of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, a renowned member of the Sisters of Charity who had died at age 26 in 1927. 

As a result, Sister Miriam was beatified in a ceremony at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J., in which Mencer played a major role. Known now as Blessed Miriam Teresa, the miracle attributed to his cure and her beatification is considered the first step in her cause of sainthood, an effort that began in 1945.

Teresa Demjanovich was born in Bayonne, N.J. in 1901, the youngest of seven children of Ruthenian immigrants to the United States from what is now Eastern Slovakia. Teresa received Baptism, Confirmation, and her First Holy Communion in the Byzantine-Ruthenian rite of her parents.

After teaching and caring for her ailing parents, Teresa joined the Sisters of Charity. During her novitiate, under the direction of Father Benedict Bradley, she composed a series of essays and meditations, which were later published under the title “Greater Perfection.” Sister Miriam died in 1927, at the age of 26.

The story of Sister Miriam’s miracle for Mencer received international media attention and her beatification ceremony held Oct. 4, 2014 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J., was the first ever held on United States soil. More than 2,500 people attended.

Mencer’s brother John reported in an email that Mike died peacefully Dec. 13, from complications of surgery at St. Elizabeth’s Regional Medical Center in Lincoln. For more than 30 years, he survived several separate bouts of cancer that required numerous surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy treatments, as well as a bone marrow transplant.

John Mencer said his brother faced his trials without complaint, and surprised his doctors and family with his tenacity and resilience in the face of his medical challenges.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Dec. 29 in St. Joseph Church in Lincoln, and Sister Jane Culligan attended as the representative of the Sisters of Charity. Burial was in Fairview Cemetery in Lincoln. Mencer is survived by his mother Barbara, two sisters and two brothers, nieces and nephews, and cousins.

The Sisters of Charity in New Jersey have chosen to honor Mike by way of a memorial that will continue to further the cause of Sister Miriam’s sainthood. Contributions may be made online at the Sisters of Charity website: www.scnj.org, or by check to: Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, Michael Mencer Memorial, Development Office, P.O. Box 476, Convent Station, NJ 07961-0476.

About Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich

(SNR) - Teresa Demjanovich was born in Bayonne, N.J. in 1901, the youngest of seven children of Ruthenian immigrants to the United States from what is now Eastern Slovakia.

After caring for her ailing parents, Teresa entered the community of Sisters of Charity at Convent Station, N.J. and professed vows as a Sister of Charity.

Sister Miriam Teresa died in Saint Elizabeth, N.J. in 1927. 

The Sisters of Charity petitioned Rome for permission to open her cause for beatification and canonization. She is being considered for sainthood because of her saintly life, striving for perfection in her religious life, her spiritual writings, the mystical privileges accorded her by God during life and the favors received by others after her death through her intercession with God. She was beatified in 2014.

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