Archdiocese of Hartford investigating report of possible miracle at Thomaston church
A reported occurrence under investigation by the Archdiocese of Hartford as a possible miracle at a Roman Catholic church in Thomaston has similarities to Jesus’ miracle of multiplying the loaves and fishes, which itself resonates with the Last Supper, according to the chaplain of Albertus Magnus College.
But while the reported increase in Communion hosts occurred at St. Thomas Church, where the Rev. Michael McGivney served, the possibility that it would be the miracle that will raise him to sainthood is not highly likely, the Rev. Jordan Lenaghan, a Dominican friar, said Tuesday.
On March 5, after Communion had been distributed, the Rev. Joseph Crowley, pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, which includes St. Thomas, announced that, during the Mass, “one of our eucharistic ministers was running out of hosts and yet they didn’t, and suddenly there’s more hosts in the ciborium.
“God duplicated himself in the ciborium,” Crowley said, as shown on a video of that portion of the Mass. “God provides and it’s strange how God does that. And that happened.”
He called the possible miracle “very powerful, very awesome, very real, very shocking. But also that happens. … It’s pretty cool.”
The event is being investigated by the Archdiocese of Hartford. David Elliott, spokesman for the archdiocese, said the investigation would take a week or two.
Archbishop Leonard Blair issued a statement Tuesday saying, “As people of faith we know that miracles can and do happen, as they did during Christ’s earthly ministry. Miracles are divine signs calling us to faith or to deepen our faith.
“Roman Catholics experience a daily miracle because every time Mass is celebrated what was bread becomes the Body of Christ and what was wine becomes his Blood. Through the centuries this daily miracle has sometimes been confirmed by extraordinary signs from Heaven, but the Church is always careful to investigate reports of such signs with caution, lest credence is given to something that proves to be unfounded.
“What has been reported to have occurred at our parish church in Thomaston, of which Blessed Michael McGivney was once Pastor, if verified, would constitute a sign or wonder that can only be attributed to divine power to strengthen our faith in the daily miracle of the Most Holy Eucharist. It would also be a source of blessing from Heaven for the effort that the U.S. Bishops are making to renew and deepen the faith and practice of our Catholic people with regard to this great Sacrament.”
Blair said further comment would be premature while the investigation continues.
In his homily Sunday, also recorded on video, Crowley said one of the eucharistic ministers “got a little nervous” because there weren’t enough hosts for the number of people in line.
“And as time went on, the hosts were being distributed. And then all of a sudden, the individual looked down, and all of a sudden there’s more hosts in the ciboria and kept giving the hosts out. There’s even more hosts in the ciboria, kept giving hosts out, and there’s even more hosts in the ciboria. So by the time everyone received Communion and I came back up to the altar, there was the same amount if not more hosts that I gave the individual in the ciboria.”
Crowley said, also during the homily, neither he nor the eucharistic minister had been praying for such a miracle. But he said it was something to think about.
“I think our Lord gave us one of the best moments of reflection for this Lent about himself, about the Eucharist,” he said, during the homily. “This isn’t like a play. It’s a liturgy. It’s the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that takes place right here on the altar every day.”
He said “the real miracle” is that, through the liturgy of the Eucharist, “our Lord then becomes the flesh and blood hidden under the mere presence of bread and wine.”
Lenaghan said even if it were determined that the multiplication of hosts was a miracle, it wouldn’t necessarily elevate McGivney, who has been beatified after one miracle was attributed to him, to sainthood.
“For a miracle to be attributed to someone who is in the process of canonization, that person has to be intentionally and solely asked in prayer for a miracle,” Lenaghan said. It doesn’t appear that that occurred.
“As far as I understand it, that would be the first place that I think they would go to investigate,” he said. “That said, it happened in the church where he was from and so one can’t discount that kind of intervention either.”
McGivney, who founded the Knights of Columbus, served as pastor of St. Thomas from 1884 until his death in 1890. He was beatified Oct. 31, 2020.
Lenaghan said while he wasn’t aware of a similar miracle involving Communion hosts, he had heard of a multiplication of food being given to the poor.
And while he isn’t sure he’s witnessed a miracle himself, Lenaghan said “the foundation of Christian faith is the belief in the miracle of the empty tomb, but it requires that radical leaning into faith to understand what the empty tomb means … the resurrection of Jesus.”
“That a broken, battered body was placed in the tomb, and then on the third day the body wasn’t there,” he said. “And that announcement of the experience of those of the apostles with the resurrected Christ, that announcement and belief in what that announcement says, is the anchor for Christian faith throughout history and throughout the world.
Lenaghan said what ties in the multiplication of the hosts to the Last Supper is the parable of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus uses the same verbs — “take, bless, break, give” — as he does at the Last Supper, which is commemorated on Holy Thursday, April 6 this year.
“Luke is very interesting because Luke has the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, which kind of foreshadows the Eucharist. Then he has the institution of the Eucharist, the Last Supper,” Lenaghan said.
Luke goes even further in the story of the road to Emmaus, in which the apostles don’t recognize Jesus until he breaks bread with them. “So it’s like it’s foreshadowed, it’s instituted and then it’s been celebrated,” he said.
At the Last Supper, commonly believed to be a Passover Seder, Jesus predicts he will be betrayed, which happens that night. He is crucified the next day, and his resurrection occurs on Easter, the third day.