The Other Toussaint

Thomas Block 10/10/90

Monsignor Robert M. O'Connell Interview
Thomas Block - Stretch/Winter

Monsignor Robert M. O'Connell, Pastor of St. Peter's Church at Barclay New York is the Vice-postulator for the cause of canonization of Pierre Toussaint. This is the same St. Peter's Church at which Toussaint attended daily Mass and received daily Communion.

In a September interview, Monsignor O'Connell said, "All of Pierre Toussaint's correspondance had been transcribed and notarized, six historians familiar with Toussaint's life had been interviewed, notes taken, and notarized, and that all of these materials had been sent to Rome to build a case of piety and holiness."

"We are now waiting for written permission from Rome to exume Toussaint's remains. We already have Rome's verbal permission and we should receive the written permission shortly. We have already received permission of the Department of Health and the State Supreme Court," said O'Connell.

Toussaint's remains will be moved to St. Patrick's Cathedral and there be buried under the altar with Fulton J. Sheen and the other Archbishops of New York. A couple of reasons for exuming Toussaint's remains according to O'Connell are: "to be sure that people make devotion to the proper remains and that relics be available in the event of Toussaint's canonization. Some of these relics would be made available to the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, so Haitians who are unable to travel to New York may pay their respect."

Toussaint's cause has been officially accepted by the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Beatification is the first step in this process. Two miracles are needed. There are two miracles presently under investigation. One is the case of a young man in Haiti who claims to have been cured of lung cancer. Monsignor O'Connell said much of this case's documentation had been lost but attempts will be made to document the case again. Another more recent case is the claim of a Miami woman who says she was cured of breast cancer after prayers of intercession to Toussaint.

According to O'Connell, "There need not be a long wait between Beatification and Sainthood anymore since changes made by Vatican II; and no additional miracles are needed after the two are confirmed at the Beatification level."

O'Connell said, "Toussaint is not just a saint for blacks or Haitians but a saint for all the people regardless of color, a model of holiness and dignity, a man who accepted what God sent him and used God's gifts in the service of other.


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