I love this.

Sister Miriam Teresa would be the third American-born saint, after Elizabeth Ann Seton and Katharine Drexel.


It was nearly 50 years ago that Michael Mencer, a third-grader at St. Anastasia School in Teaneck, was moved to the front of his classroom to be closer to the blackboard. He’d been diagnosed with macular degeneration in both eyes, an irreversible condition that eventually causes blindness. Even then, Michael could make out only peripheral images.

He often walked into trees and fell off his bike. His classmates called him “butterfingers” because he always dropped balls on the playground. courtesy photo Michael Mencer will carry a relic from Miriam Teresa during the beatification ceremony on Saturday at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.

At the end of the day, Michael’s teacher handed him a small card bearing the face of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, a long-deceased nun who was born and raised in Bayonne. Attached to it was a single strand of her hair — a strand Michael wasn’t able to see. As Michael walked home, clutching the card, he looked up at the bright sun, then down at the card — and suddenly, he said, he could clearly see the hair. He ran home.

“I think it was right then and there,” he recalled in an interview last week. “At that point everything seemed to be normal.” A few weeks later, specialists at an eye center in Pennsylvania declared that Michael’s vision was a perfect 20/20 and that his degenerative condition — a condition that could not be treated medically — no longer existed. It was, he believes, a miracle.

Michael Mencer, now 58 and living in Lincoln, Neb., and the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth in the Convent Station section of Morris Township attribute that turnaround to the divine intercession of Sister Miriam Teresa. Pope Francis certified it as a “miracle” last year, clearing the way for an elaborate ceremony on Saturday in which she will be declared “Blessed,” one step away from sainthood. “I think it’s pretty neat that it’s happening now,” said Mencer, who will carry a relic from Miriam Teresa during the beatification ceremony at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark — reported to be the first of its kind in the U.S. “I hope it’s a good thing for the country. Having a new saint, maybe it will create some sort of new life in the country.”