On September 16, 2010, a miracle happened in Peoria. Or at least, a seven-member panel of medical advisors at the Vatican says so: On Thursday, the group reported that it couldn't find a scientific explanation for the survival of James Fulton Engstrom, a stillborn baby who suddenly started breathing after doctors spent more than an hour trying to revive him. While they watched their silent son get CPR, Bonnie and Travis Engstrom prayed to Fulton John Sheen, a deceased priest who lived and worked in Illinois, D.C., and New York before his death in 1979. The parents think this prayer is what helped the baby live. “I believe it was Sheen’s intercession that played a key role in it, but it was Jesus who healed my son," the mother said in 2012.
The baby is now three years old and in good health.
How exactly does a resuscitation become a miracle in the eyes of the Church? There are a few steps. Potential miracles are first examined by local Church investigators, who decide whether to submit evidence to the Vatican. This is reviewed by a panel of medical advisors, who are picked from a large pool of doctors with various specialities, said Monsignor Stanley Deptula, the executive director of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation. Contrary to what one might expect, "many of them wouldn't be Catholic or even Christian—they're really looking for medical experts," he explained over the phone.