The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Haunted…and healed: a story of Fr. Sudac

Shortly after I posted the news item about the priest pedophile Msgr. Othmar Schroeder, I wandered over to Rod Dreher’s blog and noticed he’d linked to the same story. But then, Rod added his own footnote, remembering a friend he called “John”:

John was somewhere between 50 and 60 when I met him. It was hard to tell, because he was a recovering alcoholic, and the boozing had ravaged his body. He had come back to Catholicism after many years spent as a drunk and promiscuous homosexual. His liaisons occurred chiefly with priests. I came to trust him when he started telling me about hush-hush things going on in the archdiocese regarding sexual impropriety that would later come out, or could be independently verified.


John grew up a working-class Irish kid in one of NYC’s boroughs. His mother sent him to Catholic school. When he was around 10 or 11, the priest who ran the school called John into his office, and anally raped him. John went home and told his mother … who slapped his face hard and told him never to say such things about a priest. From that moment on, John was trapped: the priest made him into his sex slave, abusing the child in the rectory and elsewhere. “What could I do?” John said. “Nobody believed me. We were Irish Catholics. You didn’t question the priests in those days.”

John was ruined, morally, spiritually and psychologically by his abuse. As I said, he went on to become an alcoholic, and as an adult made priests his lovers. His initial abuser went on to become a famous and well-regarded figure in the Church, and died honored and beloved by the community.


An interesting thing happened to John not long before I left New York and lost touch with him. He’d heard that Father Zlatko Sudac, a Croatian priest was coming to town, a young man with a reputation as a mystic and a stigmatist. John went to see him on his last night leading a prayer service at a Catholic parish in the city. John hung at the very back and stayed quiet, observing. Toward the end, there was a long line of parishioners who wanted to receive Father Sudac’s blessing. John decided that he should too. As I recall his story, he was one of the last in line. He hadn’t talked to anybody there, and to his knowledge, no one at that parish knew him.


As he knelt and received the priest’s blessing, Father Sudac, who spoke no English, whispered something to his interpreter. The interpreter leaned over and whispered to John, “Father says to tell you that the Virgin says she was with you in the rectory, and suffered along with you. You were not alone.”

When John told me that story, he started crying. He didn’t cry because he thought, “If you were there, why didn’t you stop it?” He cried because he was now convinced that he had not suffered alone. God, and the Virgin Mary, had seen what happened. That was enough for John. He had begun to heal.

The story is stunning on so many levels, but strikes very close to home for me.


Because the parish where this occured is my own.

Fr. Sudac appeared at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Forest Hills, Queens several years ago. Thousands came to the prayer service, braving a rainstorm and a parking nightmare, to see and hear the fabled mystic and stigmatist. He spoke no English, knew no one at the parish, and relied entirely on an interpreter. But at one point during the mass, he offered prayers and petitions for very specific problems and illnesses. People who attended the mass told me later they were stunned to hear him mention their circumstances. (“There is a little girl who has leukemia,” he would say. “She is in the hospital. In New York. Her mother is here with us. We pray for her and her little girl…”) Many who left that night felt comforted, and more than a few said they felt healed.

Rod Dreher’s friend “John,” it seems, had a lot of company.

Comments read comments(7)
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posted August 30, 2007 at 4:47 pm

Deacon Kandra, thank you so much for your wonderful blog and its fascinating content. Please keep up the great work and God Bless you.

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Mrs. Who

posted September 3, 2007 at 3:53 pm

Thank you for sharing that moving story. My own family is recovering from the abuses by a pedophile (not a priest but a Mormon) but it is so easy for the victims to feel alone. They feel so unworthy of God…but God is there for them.

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Doug Sirman

posted September 15, 2007 at 8:22 am

“Where was God during the holocaust? Why, He was in the gas chambers!”– Peter KreeftWith NO disrespect toward God, So What?I’m glad for Rod’s friend. Although, I must confess that since the word ‘healing’ is so often used as a facile evasion, and its situational definition so plasticized as to be meaningless, I wonder at its long-term significance.

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posted May 3, 2008 at 9:22 pm

I have had the honor and privelege to see Father Sudac 3 times before his Bishop halted his visits to the U.S. He is truly amazing. I understand how John felt that evening and how it will stay with him forever. As far as the awful things that have happened in our world, it’s not God fault. Perhaps we should look a further back to Adam and Eve, this is not the Garden of Eden. We shall enjoy Paradise when we meet Jesus.

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posted April 14, 2013 at 2:00 am

I keep reading that the Italian physicians said that his stigmata were “not of human origin.” I am a medical doctor myself, I’ve studied the same medical sciences that my Italian physician colleagues studied, and I must say, it perplexes me this phrase that I keep seeing on every website: “not of human origin.” This is not a medical diagnosis. No doctor could/would ever say this. We can describe a wound, question the sort of object that may have caused the laceration (blunt, trauma, incising) but to ascribe any kind of source – human or divine – doctors can’t do this. I also have a masters in theology. So even if they’re Jesuit doctors – I just can’t envision a doctor saying anything like this. Does anyone know the names of these doctors ? What the report said exactly ?

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Susan Lole

posted October 8, 2013 at 4:33 am

Fr. Sudac please pray for me,my family, my mom and my relatives that we may know God and serve Him better and not fogetting the souls of my deceased father and relatives

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Susan Lole

posted October 8, 2013 at 4:50 am

i have suffered so much with an abusive husband till a bishop in our area made us reconcile, i have forgiven him but am taking time to heal. please pray for me

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