Five years after the miraculous events in her family's life, Kathy Crombie still can't talk about it without breaking down in tears-the events are so incredible to her. While seeking healing for her son's cancer, the miracle she personally experienced took her completely by surprise.
One day in August 1995, Chad Crombie, who had graduated from Dearborn High School in Michigan the previous spring, came home and told his parents that he had a lump on the side of his neck. "I wasn't feeling bad," Chad recalls, "so I didn't think much of it."
But for his parents, Kathy and Robyn Crombie, what they hoped was a swollen gland turned out to be their worst nightmare. "The doctor came out and said it was cancer," said Kathy, forty-eight. "Holy smokes, it hit us so hard." They had found two lumps and Chad was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. The course of treatment decided on was a rigorous forty rounds of radiation-twenty to the upper body and twenty to the lower body.
"You suddenly find God," Kathy explained. "I was raised Catholic and my parents were very good role models. I continued to go to church and my husband converted when we married, but I had issues with the Church. I was a marginal Catholic-confession wasn't high on my priority list, the rosary was a mindless prayer and the Church was outdated on the contraception thing."
So when one of Kathy's best friends called with a suggestion, it totally blew her away. Judy Paga told Kathy she knew of a man in Michigan, named Francis, who had the wounds of Christ in his hands. Judy urged her to take Chad to him. "I expect nothing less than a miracle," she told Kathy.
"I felt so confused," Kathy said. After gathering her thoughts, Kathy said, she presented the information to her family. She asked Chad, who had undergone his first four radiation treatments, if he wanted to go.
To her surprise he answered, "Oh, sure, Mom."
"I didn't even know what a stigmatist was," Chad confessed. "I never had any doubts that God exists and is still in the miracle-working business. My practical side said, `Go,' what do you have to lose?" Still, Kathy hesitated, "We really need to talk to someone who knows about this."
What she heard was, "Oh, I'd go! I'd go in a minute. I believe that God gives special gifts to people. While you're there, you'll know if he is real. And if he is, ask him to come to our church sometime-we have a lot of sick people who could use his services."
Msgr. Kucyk later said, "At that time, they needed all the prayer they could get. I thought, if he could help, all the better."
"He is the reason we went," Kathy said. "God truly used him that day. If he had said no, we wouldn't have gone." On Saturday, October 21st, Kathy and Chad drove to Flint where Francis-the man with the wounds of Christ-was visiting his brother Reynold. Chad's older brother Derek was playing football for Wayne State that day and his father had injured his back; neither could make the 10 A.M. appointment. When they came into the family room there were a few other people listening to Francis' explanation of his wounds.
"All of a sudden I see his hands with these huge wounds on the palms-about the size of a silver dollar," Kathy remembered. "They are these deep, deep purple-red, scabbed-over wounds. On the back of his hands were band-aids and you could see blood under them."
He explained that every night he suffers the passion of our Lord, for the sins of the flesh, sometime between the hours of midnight and 3 A.M. "He told us, that is the time when a great deal of the sins of the flesh are committed," said Kathy. When he began to explain the suffering, "He broke down crying like I have never heard anyone else cry."
After Francis regained his composure, Reynold told those gathered that his brother would pray with them in a separate room if they wished. "A man went in first and I was kind of relieved," said Kathy. "I didn't know what to make of it all."
Chad volunteered to go next and was in there for quite some time. "We prayed and he puts his hands on my head," Chad recounted. "I got a chill that felt more electric than cold. It shot straight through and I felt completely relaxed."
Kathy said that when she and Chad got into the car she was still crying. She reached into her pocket to grab a tissue Francis had given her in the house. "I went to wipe my eye and I caught a whiff of something perfumy," she said. "I don't wear perfume because I'm allergic to it." She checked the tissue and there was no lotion on it. "Then I smelled my hands and it was on my hands and Chad's hands too. It was very flowery-like roses. At that time, I didn't know about roses being a sign of Mary."
"It smelled like a whole flower shop," Chad added, "it was so strong." The mother and son didn't have much time to ponder the scent (which continued into the next day) because of what happened next. "We were about five minutes down the road," recalled Chad, who added that he was in the habit of frequently feeling his neck. "I had checked the lump that morning and it was huge, even larger than it had been before. About the time we first smelled the roses my hand automatically went across my neck.
"I felt again and it began to register that the lump was not there. I said, `Mom, it's gone,' and she said, `What's gone?' I said, `The lump is gone.'" As soon as the Crombies arrived home, Kathy and Robyn checked Chad for any sign of the tumor. "The lump was definitely gone," said Kathy. Five years later, Chad has no signs of Hodgkin's.
As miraculous as Chad's healing was to the Crombies, Kathy was shocked by her own personal healing. "God physically healed Chad, but He gave me a spiritual conversion I didn't even know I needed," she said. Once a marginal Catholic, Kathy is now a daily Communicant and also prays the rosary every day. "I shortchanged all of my family because of my skepticism," Kathy confessed. "I wasn't solid in my faith and I was so verbal about it. People who see me now say, `Boy, have you changed.'"
And the changes weren't limited just to Kathy. "I watched my husband grow in his faith. I watched my boys grow in their faith so incredibly. I see in them such strong Catholics."
Chad is very aware of the impact all this has had on his spiritual life. "I have always been strong in my belief, but it is completely cemented now," he said. For the Crombie family, the greatest miracle has definitely been their conversion of faith.
"God has done this for others to witness," said Kathy. "And this is for everyone."