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Witness to a Miracle

By Rebecca Ducusin
at Ave Maria Centre in Toronto, Canada

Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD, knows that a miracle happens in every Mass, but when he gave communion to Korean visionary Julia Kim on three occasions and it turned into the visible body and blood of Christ he asked for forgiveness for the many times he took communion for granted and came to a greater appreciation of the depth and privilege of being a priest.

The special message of the Eucharistic phenomena, Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD said, simply was to make us know the importance of Mass and communion.  “We must pray the Mass.  Jesus is really present there.  We must feel Him.  Don’t rush the Mass, don’t make it automatic.”

Although he served in Korea as a mission priest for four years, he met the visionary Julia Kim when he went back to Korea for a pilgrimage from his native Philippines.

 The 33 pilgrims led by Fr. Orbos witnessed the phenomenon on May 16, 1991, the second day of their pilgrimage, in the same church at Naju, Korea, where Julia had her first Eucharistic miracle on the feast of Corpus Christi in 1988 after receiving communion from a Korean priest.

Rufino Park, who gifted Julia with the statue of Our Lady that sheds tears and blood, approached Fr. Orbos, while he was cleaning the chalice after giving communion, to tell him that something was happening to Julia.  Fr. Orbos approached Julia, who was kneeling down, trembling, and crying.

He said, “Remember she just received communion.  When she opened her eyes she saw me and she opened her mouth.  In her mouth was part flesh and part host.  When I saw there was blood in her mouth, I was so shocked, scared, unworthy, but very happy.  All I could do at that point was to say, ‘Oh Lord, if this is what it is, thank you very much for the sign.’  I prayed over Julia for discernment.  And I prayed then ‘Lord forgive me, forgive us for the many times we took you so for granted in communion.’  That was the whole thing.  We take you so automatically.  And for the times we take you so unworthily just for show.”

Left: The Sacred host turned into visible Flesh and Blood in Julia's mouth during Mass in the Naju Parish Church.

Above: Fr. Jerry Orbos and another priest from the Philippines pray with Julia and other pilgrims after witnessing the Eucharistic miracle.

After some moments, he asked the 33 Filipino pilgrims to see if something had happened.  “The second time Julia opened her mouth we saw the blood, but this time also on her tongue we saw the host that was still whitish and half of it was like flesh.  When we saw that we were all crying, people were kneeling and then I just felt so much the presence of the Lord,” a pilgrim said.

Fr. Orbos knelt before the tabernacle for a long time.  Julia told Fr. Orbos that she saw, during the consecration, the Blessed Mother behind Fr. Orbos and Fr. Ernie Santos, spreading her mantle around them, embracing and protecting them in a very special way. 

The late Salesian priest Fr. Ernie had kidney trouble but the pilgrimage rejuvenated him and he went back to East Timor where he worked hard propagating the faith.

In 1992, the second pilgrimage took them to the Holy Land, then to Lourdes and Rome.  Julia was feeling well from Rome to Paris, Lourdes to Paris, but started to experience pain on the shuttle bus taking them to the plane.  A pilgrim recalled seeing blue veins twitching on her face.  The pain Julia felt was like those dealt by hammer blows on the head, a pilgrim recalled.  She needed a separate room that evening.

The plan to have Mass at Maria Majore church the next morning was cancelled because of Julia’s intense suffering and also Fr. Orbos’ plan to visit the SVD house.  Mass was celebrated in a room in Hotel Massimo so all 27 pilgrims could be together.  During the Mass, Fr. Orbos told them that Julia, a victim soul, started to have pain the day before for the forgiveness of everyone.  A pilgrim related what Fr. Orbos told them: “because while all of us in Lourdes decided to have cleansing of the body by going to the baths, and cleansing of the soul by going to confession, not all of us were truly repentant.”

The Blessed Mother told Julia that she was being asked to suffer for them because they were not truly repentant.  Julia was seated near the altar and was still in pain.  Fr. Orbos gave the pilgrims a few moments to reflect and be truly sorry for their sins.  Before the offertory, Julia coughed violently that she was almost thrown out of her chair.  Soon afterwards, she was smiling and expressed that everything was ‘OK’ and the pain was gone because everyone was sorry for their sins.  After communion, Julio, Julia’s husband, called Fr. Orbos to show him that something extraordinary was happening.  Everyone saw the host bleeding.          

The next day, the pilgrims participated in a Mass at the Miracolo Eucaristico church in Lanciano where the first recorded Eucharistic miracle happened in the 8th century.  They had prepared spiritually for the visit to the church as Julia herself announced, through an interpreter, that they spend the day in reflection.  They did so by praying and singing.

As Fr. Orbos was returning the ciborium, he heard a commotion as people gathered around Julia.  He became apprehensive.  Seeing very vividly blood and the host turning into flesh and becoming thicker and thicker, Fr. Orbos called a parish priest of Lanciano to witness it and they both prayed over Julia. 

After some time Fr. Orbos told Julia to swallow it.  “Some people were saying get the specimen.  I won’t do that,” Fr. Orbos explained.  “She was to tell me later on that it was so hard to swallow it.”  “It was so hot,” she said.  “Fresh blood is hot,” Fr. Orbos said.

On all three occasions when the host she received from Fr. Orbos turned into blood and flesh, Julia was asked to swallow it.  Fr. Orbos always prayed for discernment.

After the Mass, Julia told Fr. Orbos that the vision she experienced during the consecration was that of Christ crucified and of a light coming from the heart of Jesus going to the chalice, through Fr. Orbos and then extending to the people.  Fr. Orbos said that he really felt so warm during the Mass.  “Fine, good, thank you,” he told Julia.

But the greatest surprise awaited them in the museum in Lanciano, where a large painting showed the vision Julia had during consecration.

Fr. Orbos’ message is “Stay close to Mary and you will never abandon Christ.  You know, Mama Mary is very happy if we come close to her Son.”  He strongly urged that people form prayer groups and cenacles and devote some time to perpetual adoration.  “The key is all here in our hearts.”

“Mary is asking you to come closer to the sacraments, to the Eucharist.  My only request now is please pray the Mass and make your communion more personal—feel the Lord.  My dear friends, you don’t have to see a Eucharistic miracle.  Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe.  A miracle happens in every Mass.”  In leading the flock in praying the Hail Mary, he said, “we say it with all of our love” and when we come to the part ‘pray for us sinner now,’ we pause and pray what we want to ask.”

“Regarding the Eucharistic phenomena which he was privileged to witness,” he said, “I found that it was Mary who brought me closer to the Eucharist.  We’ve studied all that in theology, but she allowed me to experience something which I could never forget.  I am not saying that those are miracles.  Let the Church take care of that.”  The Filipino priest added: “It has so stabilized my life, my priesthood, it is so clear.”

“All of us have a vocation.  Do your work well.  Do your best.  Life is short.  We’re all just passing by.  Do something good and worthwhile.  It so happened that God called me to be a priest to touch the lives of people.”

Summer 1994

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