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Those affected by ‘Little Audrey’ remember her at 10th anniversary

Posted By May 5, 2017 | 11:34 am | Featured Article #4
Bishop McManus greets Linda Santo at Mass for her daughter, Audrey,

Photo by Tanya Connor | CFP
Bishop McManus greets Linda Santo at Mass for her daughter, Audrey, Photo by Tanya Connor | CFP

By Tanya Connor | The Catholic Free Press

WORCESTER – “Audrey was the beginning of my spiritual awakening; I felt called and invited to a deeper relationship with the Lord.”
Kathy Jordan, of St. Bernard Parish in Fitchburg, was talking about Audrey Santo, whom she first visited in 1995.
“I don’t know why God has me here, but I have a feeling my life will never be the same,” she told the bedridden girl who couldn’t speak or move.
After that, Mrs. Jordan spent years in youth ministry and now does sacred art. She also helps at Audrey’s house.

This Madonna and Child image on a large rosary in Audrey’s chapel exhibits what appears to be blood, oil and sparkles. Photo by Tanya Connor | CFP

This Madonna and Child image on a large rosary in Audrey’s chapel exhibits what appears to be blood, oil and sparkles.
Photo by Tanya Connor | CFP

Over the years, people flocked to see Audrey – and unexplained phenomena at her South Flagg Street home. Some considered her a “victim soul” who suffered for others, or say she helped them in some way.
“Little Audrey,” as she is known to people around the world, died 10 years ago on April 14. She’d fallen into her family’s swimming pool on Aug. 9, 1987 at age 3, and ended up in a non-speaking state with limited movement. Her mother, Linda Santo, cared for her at her home for 23 years, with others’ help.
Hosts consecrated at Masses at her home have bled what has been found to be human blood, a Host appeared in a tabernacle there and a ciborium keeps filling with oil, witnesses say. What appears to be blood, oil and sparkles appears and disappears on pictures, statues and other things at her house.
In 2008 Bishop McManus gave official recognition to a foundation, a private association of the faithful, seeking Audrey’s beatification and canonization.
Last Friday at St. Paul Cathedral the bishop celebrated a 10th anniversary Mass for her which drew an estimated 100 people.
One of the concelebrants was Father Peter J. Joyce, spiritual director for Audrey’s Foundation, who is pastor of St. John Paul II Parish in Southbridge. Among assisting deacons was Deacon Anthony R. Surozenski, vice postulator for the canonization cause and co-director of the diocesan Office of the Diaconate.
Bishop McManus preached about the Eucharist and said Audrey and her family showed that God uses ordinary people to manifest the mystery of Christ’s sacrificial love and the Church’s call to display such love.
The bishop said he’s been edified by how Audrey’s accident galvanized people in the diocese and beyond. It demonstrated that even the most vulnerable human life has dignity that must be protected, he said.
He said he was just as intrigued by Christ’s command to collect the leftover fragments of the loaves and fishes as he was by the miraculous multiplication of them.
He read a spiritual reflection, taken from “Sick, and You Cared for Me” by Jan Richardson, which addressed this.
“Jesus … always knows what to do with what has been lost, overlooked, left behind,” it said. “It is part of the miracle this day … He sees … the feast that remains within the fragments.”
After Mass, and again on Saturday, people visited Audrey’s home and ministry house next door. In her home, they could visit her room and chapel, spending time in adoration of one of the bleeding Hosts and viewing oil-covered statues and pictures. In the ministry house they could visit a kind of museum with artifacts from Audrey’s life and a gift shop which helps support the ministry and canonization cause.

Father Walter J. Riley, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Worcester, blesses Tuyet Pham, of Our Lady of Vilna Parish in Worcester, at Audrey’s 10th anniversary Mass Saturday. He is using oil from a Host that weeps oil, which is kept in the tabernacle in Audrey’s bedroom.  Photo by Tanya Connor | CFP

Father Walter J. Riley, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Worcester, blesses Tuyet Pham, of Our Lady of Vilna Parish in Worcester, at Audrey’s 10th anniversary Mass Saturday. He is using oil from a Host that weeps oil, which is kept in the tabernacle in Audrey’s bedroom.
Photo by Tanya Connor | CFP

Some attended a Mass Saturday outside the ministry house, which local priests concelebrated with other priests. Among assisting deacons was Deacon Bryan Lagimoniere, of Our Lady Immaculate Parish in Athol and St. Peter Parish in Petersham, who helps at Audrey’s house with his wife, Nancy.
“I’ve done everything from sweep floors to Benediction and adoration,” Deacon Lagimoniere said.
“I love it here,” said Mrs. Lagimoniere.
Her husband said they’ve taken Mrs. Santo to speaking engagements, which they videotape and photograph for the canonization process.
“Fairly rarely, in anyone’s lifetime, would you have the opportunity to be involved in the process of someone’s canonization,” he said. “For me, as a Catholic, it’s a very sacred thing.…
“I’ve seen the base of the chalice, during the consecration, start to weep oil. There’ve been a number of times I’ve washed the priest’s hands with normal tap water and all of a sudden the smell of flowers shows up.… We have saved the water because we have to document everything.”
Discerning the message in all this is hard, he said; it’s a mystery.
Visiting Saturday, Gail Mikolsky had her own mysteries to recount from the past few years. She credits her job with the Bridgeport Diocese to a prayer she prayed at Audrey’s house, links her husband’s healing to oil from there and tells of the appearance of a string.
Rosanne Verlezza, a fellow Southbury, Conn., resident who’s now a part of Audrey’s foundation said she brought oil from Audrey’s to Mrs. Mikolsky.
Mrs. Mikolsky said she anointed her husband with it when he was in the emergency room. Twenty minutes later they’d discovered the cause of his health problems – ammonia poisoning – that another hospital missed. He would have died within 72 hours, she said.
After being properly diagnosed and treated, “within two weeks he was well enough to go to his 45th class reunion,” Mrs. Mikolsky said.
“I had told Gail I had so much faith here,” Mrs. Verlezza said. “My sister had been healed through Audrey’s intercession.”
Mrs. Mikolsky also told about finding a pink string wrapped around her tote bag, too tightly to have simply fallen on it, when she visited Audrey’s house. She said no one put it there and that pink was Audrey’s color.
“It had five knots,” she said, and later she learned that the Blessed Mother is called the Undoer of Knots. “It is now framed in my bedroom.”
Maria Cristina (Pujals) Fernandez, of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Leominster, said her parents met Mrs. Santo and Audrey years ago, and stopped to see them when visiting her family in Worcester.
When her father touched some of the oil, he kept it on his hands until he got to Chicago, she said. There he rubbed it on his newborn grandson who had Down syndrome.
“We kind of feel J.C. has more muscle tone” because of that, Mrs. Fernandez said, adding that James Cantwell Pujals is almost 18 now.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing,” Jennie Martino, of St. Ann Parish in Providence, said of seeing Audrey years ago. “She was a saint, I think, back then … for what she’d been through. She will be (a saint) now.”

Is she praying for Audrey’s canonization?
“Oh yeah!”