California woman’s sainthood cause opened by Monterey diocese
March 7th, 2012
By Valerie Schmalz
The Vatican is reviewing documents that would allow the cause of sainthood to go forward for a wife, mother, and possible mystic who was baptized Catholic in 1935 after becoming disillusioned with the Mormon faith.
Cora Evans reported visions of Jesus and the saints and a mission from Jesus to promote the “Mystical Humanity of Christ,” the idea that Christ is always within us and we should behave always as Christ would, said Mike McDevitt, a parishioner at Our Lady of the Pillar in Half Moon Bay, who is the promoter of Evans’ cause of sainthood. The spirituality is also focused on praying the Mass.
Evans’ two children were baptized with her in Ogden, Utah, and her husband, Mack, became Catholic shortly afterward, with many family and friends following her from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into the Catholic Church, said McDevitt. Born in 1904, she died in Boulder Creek, near Monterey, March 30, 1957. She moved to Southern California in 1941 and to Boulder Creek in 1956.
“Cora loved the Mormons. She considered the Mormons her heritage people,” said McDevitt. “She wanted them to know who Jesus was and she wanted them to have the Eucharist. She prayed for Mormons.”
Evans rejected the Mormon faith in 1924, after experiencing the secret rituals of Mormon marriage in the temple in Salt Lake City, for what she considered to be false teachings about God, and began a 10-year search for the true religion, according to a biography presented to the Vatican in February 2011. Evans became Catholic shortly after listening to the Catholic radio hour on Dec. 9, 1934, when she was too sick to change the station despite a great aversion to Catholicism, McDevitt said. She went to nearby St. Joseph Catholic Church with questions because what she heard was nothing like what she had been taught about Catholicism, he said. She was baptized March 30, 1935.
The promoters of Evans’ cause are waiting for the Vatican to rule if the investigation can go forward by giving a Nihil Obstat, or “no objection.”
Jesus as well as many saints reportedly appeared multiple times to Evans, according to the two-page chronology sent by Monterey Bishop Richard Garcia to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.
In a reported vision Dec. 24, 1946, Jesus entrusted Evans with the mission “to promulgate the Mystical Humanity of Christ (the Divine Indwelling) within souls – as a way of prayer in the United States and throughout the world. Jesus promises to foster the devotion,” according to the document.
Was this a true vision or a true mission from Jesus? That is what the process is designed to discover, said Father Joseph Grimaldi, a canon lawyer who was appointed by Bishop Garcia as the postulator for the Cora Evans sainthood cause. A postulator guides the process forward. Her numerous writings recording her visions, as yet unpublished, have been reviewed by one theologian and found without fault, said Father Grimaldi, but the priest said more reviews will be necessary.
“The case seems pretty hopeful despite the fact that Cora Evans is relatively unknown,” said Father Grimaldi. Father Grimaldi was involved with verifying the miracle that led to the canonization of St. Damien of Molokai and with the exhumation of the body of one of St. Damien’s helpers, Blessed Marianne Cope, who will be canonized Oct. 21.
For the Catholic Church to declare someone a saint, a miracle must occur and be verified after the cause of sainthood is opened. That will lead to the person being beatified, or declared Blessed. After beatification, another miracle must occur and be verified, for canonization.
“She is known particularly for her spirituality. She might be a good example of someone who was married, led a very good, very holy life, doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way,” Father Grimaldi said.
Evans experienced the stigmata, the wounds of Jesus on the cross, according to reports, but that in itself is not a guarantee of canonization, Father Grimaldi said.
One positive indication is that McDevitt’s retreats focused on the mystical humanity of Christ are garnering more attention, Father Grimaldi said. “He’s been giving these retreats on a regular basis and they are well received,” the priest said, noting that about 80 have been presented, many at parishes of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Still, Father Grimaldi said, “We have a long ways to go.”
From March 9, 2012 issue of Catholic San Francisco.