In an historic ceremony July 8 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Newark, Archbishop John J. Myers presided over the sealing of documentation that will present Sister Miriam’s beatification cause to Vatican authorities, a first step toward possible canonization as a saint.
If she is beatified it will be the first time someone from New Jersey has been so recognized by the Church.
Sister Miriam, who died in 1927 at the age of 26, graduated with honors from the College of Saint Elizabeth, Convent Station, in 1923.
Teresa Demjanovich then taught at Saint Aloysius School, Jersey City. Her brother, the late Msgr. Charles Demjanovich, was pastor of St. Mary Parish, Rutherford, for over two decades and also taught at Immaculate Conception Seminary. She entered the Sisters of Charity in February 1925.
Her special spirituality was soon recognized by those around her. Father Benedict Bradley, Sister Miriam’s spiritual director, asked her to put her spiritual reflections on being a good Religious in writing.
With her permission he presented the contents of her writings as his own at talks to the sisters. Shortly after her death, Father Bradley revealed the source of his talks. Sister Miriam’s writings were published in a now out-of-print book entitled Greater Perfection.
Near the end of 1945, a communication was received from Rome authorizing the Diocese of Paterson, in which the General House of the Sisters of Charity is located, to institute an ordinary informative process concerning Sister Miriam’s life and virtues. The official investigation began in early 1946.
A year ago, in Convent Station, a tribunal met concerning an alleged miracle at the intercession of Sister Miriam that took place in the 1960s. The tribunal consisted of Msgr. Robert Furhman, Msgr. Frank Del Prete and Father James Sheehan of the Archdiocese of Newark along with Sister Marian Jose Smith, S.C., Vice Postulate for Sister Miriam’s beatification case, and Mary Mazzarella, M.D.,the medical investigative member.
Father Sheehan, who delivered the homily at a Mass following sealing of the documents, stressed that the entire process was an “inquiry into an alleged miracle” that took place at the intercession of Sister Miriam, Only Christ, he stressed, “brings us healing.”
The tribunal met with three persons directly connected with the alleged miracle along with four physicians.
Sister Marian Jose stressed the “message” of Sister Miriam which was “everyone is called to holiness.”
Five years ago, she explained, an account of the “life and virtues” of Sister Miriam was forwarded to Rome. What was sent last week, noted Father Sheehan, was documentation consisting of testimony and “pertinent” records concerning the alleged miracle attributed to the intercession of Sister Miriam Teresa.
The information sent earlier this month, Sister Marian said, will be evaluated by five theologians and three physicians who will determine if the case should be recommended to Pope John Paul II.
Dr. Mazzarella said she presented the case to four physicians she knows; all of whom determined the situation deserved to be pursued further.