“My husband interpreted that as 'he's alive, but just for now,'” Bonnie recalled.
Doctors expected James Fulton to die within the week, or at the very least, be on a ventilator or feeding tube—blind and strapped into a wheelchair—for the rest of his short life.
What happened in the following days, however, was nothing short of extraordinary.
“Two days after he was born, we had a Mass and a Holy Hour at the cathedral where Sheen was ordained, and we prayed the intercessory prayer asking for Sheen's prayers that James would be completely healed,” Bonnie said.
The Engstrom family was surprised to be surrounded by over a hundred people gathered together with them at Mass that day.
“People I didn't even know—friends of friends, or they saw it on Facebook and they came.”
Over the next few days, friends and strangers alike held Holy Hours at Newman centers and parishes across the U.S. Multiple Protestant churches also participated in prayer chains.
“There were people from all over the world who e-mailed me and left comments on my blog saying 'we're praying for your son and we are asking for Sheen's intercession,'” Bonnie said. “It was really powerful and humbling.”
Within a week of his birth, doctors were shocked to find that James Fulton was breathing on his own.
“Everyone was just amazed by that—that wasn't supposed to happen.”
And day by day, after all of his vital organs were seen to be functioning properly, it became more apparent that little James Fulton was going to be just fine.
(Story continues below)
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“Definitely by the time we were discharged,” and when the baby was seven weeks old, “the doctors and nurses were already pretty impressed with how far he had come,” she said.
When the follow-up MRI came in three months later in December 2010, the medical team was extremely pleased by what they saw.
James Fulton, a normal, happy little boy, celebrated his first birthday on September 16, 2011.
The Engstrom's were recently sworn into a tribunal of inquiry where members of Bishop Sheen's cause for beatification and canonization will investigate the alleged healing.
At a Sept. 7 ceremony at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel in Peoria, the family was joined by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi—postulator for Archbishop Sheen’s cause—and members of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation board.
“Because my family believes that James was healed in part because of the intercession of Sheen, there is now an investigation into whether or not this is a real miracle,” Bonnie said. “We don't know what's going to happen, but they are investigating for the beatification.”