Fr. Higgins: The Man I Saw Brought Back to Life

“I reached and said ‘He’s wearing an old fashioned Scapular’. When I touched it there was a beep from a monitor, then another.”

Eucharist Black White

March 25, 2012

Who doesn’t enjoy a good BBQ with friends? When I was asked to a young couple’s home for a Young Adult Ministry Home Mass and BBQ I packed my Mass kit and off I went. I arrived about 6:00 pm with a hearty appetite and was greeted by about 15 young people. Then the phone rang and everything changed. I had to drive about 10 miles to a hospital where there was an emergency call.

I drove quickly, thinking that the nurse in charge of the ER, Anne, would be waiting for me. I knew her and her husband and children from the parish. When I walked in I could see paramedics at the foot of the only occupied gurney there, so I hurried and walked in. “Sorry, Fr. John, you’re too late. He’s gone.” Anne said, smiling. She had a lot of compassion, but also understood that I’d come as fast as I could. They were removing wires from an older man. I noticed that he was wearing a Brown Scapular, one of the old cloth ones. I reached and said “He’s wearing an old fashioned Scapular”. When I touched it there was a beep from a monitor, then another. The nurse, Anne, said “What did you do?” I said “Nothing!” She and another nurse jumped to work, reconnecting wires and calling for help. The Paramedics stood with their jaws dropped. The patient opened his eyes and said (in an Irish accent) “Oh, good, Father. I’ve been waiting for you. I want to go to Confession.” I nearly fell over. I’d done nothing but seen and touched his Scapular. The next thing I knew they were working on him. He didn’t get to go to Confession, but I gave him an emergency absolution as they worked. One of the Paramedics asked if I was OK and sat me in a chair.

A couple of weeks later the man came to me for Confession and told me that the doctor couldn’t figure out what happened and had to tear up the Death Certificate he’d already started to fill out. The Paramedics had come to see him in the hospital and shown him their notes. At the bottom of the page they’d written the time and place of his death and then in big bold letters had added “BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE BY GOD”.

Miracles still happen. And no, I didn’t do it. It just happened according to God’s will. Why does He intervene in some cases and not in others? I really don’t know. I haven’t figured that out yet. But I do know that God has worked miracles in my life, the most important for me not being what He did for someone else, but what He has done over and over to bring me back from sin and death, through the Sacraments into His Covenant Relationship.

That man still had to die a natural death to be raised from the dead into eternal life. The resurrection Jesus offers all of us is eternal too. And that’s what we look forward to at Easter.

Father Higgins
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Father John Higgins
Fr. Higgins was born in Indiana. His mother brought him to California when he was about three years old. They lived in South Gate, Covina, Lynwood and then in 1965 they moved to Downey. Fr. Higgins attended Downey High School for two years and graduated from there in 1967. He attended Cerritos Community College, worked in Downey, Bellflower, and Long Beach before entering the Seminary in 1974. He was ordained to the Priesthood in 1981, has served as Campus Minister and Religion Teacher at Bishop Garcia Diego High School in Santa Barbara, and worked in seven parishes before his assignment to St. Raymond Parish in 2003. He also currently serves as the Chaplain at Downey Fire Department – serving both firefighters and victims.

  • William

    Awesome! Take that, Dick Dawkins!

  • Fr. JP thinks Our Lady’s prayers be prrrrrretyy powerul, yesireee.

  • John Keane

    Go mbeannaí Dia duit

  • It’s a REAL MIRACLE of GOD
    Fr. Higgins
    Served for the Cause..
    When I met his page in fb,
    I had happen to feel
    a presence of divinity,
    at the first moment itself.
    He is always on a journey through a one way lane, leading to Jesus and GOD.
    In this episode,
    the Man was Died
    Experienced a
    Now I humbly appreciate
    Chackos Kerala India.

  • Jim

    This event ought to be used to re-inforce the teaching of the Church regarding when death has set-in; that is to say, one is not considered to dead until rigour as set in. Unless, rigour sets, they are considered still a body (that is alive). And, so here we have an opportunity to also re-inforce a more urgent aspect of the Church’s teaching on death. Organ transplants from a body where rigour has not set in is a grave moral evil. It is considered murder to cut basic medicine and life-supprt. It is considered murder to cut into a body to remove an organ. Little known is the procedure of how transplantation is performed. It is an operation that cannot take place on a remains (rigoured) but can only take place on a body. Let us re-iterate the definitions: Remains equal dead, Body equal living. Since brain death is not a criteria for actual death as a person can continue for years in coma-like states and in brain-death.

    I have loads of medical personal that will back-up exactly how the process works. And, so let us imagine if this fellow had ‘illicitly’ marked himself on a public document, as opposed to a family document, of being an organ donour. The medical personnel upon what they saw as immenence of death would have induced brain-death by cutting his air-supply or blood-supply or chemically and then begun removing his insides.

    Deo Gratias.

    • ciao

      Well said.
      It explains why doctors don’t become organ donors.
      This process reminds me of vultures circling over their next meal waiting for it to die, but in the case of humans, simply the recognition of the imminence of death gives them the green light to start harvesting organs.
      It makes me think of a blood-sucking vampire, barely restraining himself, with red eyes blazing, waiting for the signs of fainting so that he can ravage his next victim.

      Miracles like this story,proves how much we need to prepare ahead of time for a good death.

  • Cajetan

    When the Almighty God acts it leaves man with wonder as an available option, only to arouse them to singing praises. Acknowledging the awesome nature of God and His mercies. I enjoyed this favour from God but in a different context, it is not all who collapsed that came back to life but He did it for me, giving me life when all thought it has finished. GLORY TO GOD ALMIGHTY, Jesus segne dich Fr John.

  • Dex

    I am glad to hear miracles still do happen. Praise be to God.

  • Sometimes, I believe that God allows a miracle to happen before the eyes of believers and non believers as a way to say: “I AM Who I AM” and those believe in me shall never die. We are given such blessed symbols such as the scapular, medals, rosary, etc, with promises not only from God, but from His Beloved and Holy Mother, that only can come from Heaven, and all we have to do as Christians is believe and do not doubt. A miracle is a gift to enlighten us to the power of the Almighty God. Bless you Fr. Higgins, you shall be added to my list of prayers for priests.

  • Ego sum resurrectio et vita!

    • Mary

      Dear Father thank you for the Latin translation of Jesus’ words; “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND LIFE!

  • Jenny Sockey

    I would like to be on your list to receive your E-Emails. Thank you Jenny Sockey

  • Wanda

    With God, anything is possible. Praise Him and Thank Him everyday.

  • Joseph Thaddeus Salinas

    …Touching God…
    with our conscious…
    … intuitive…
    …humble loving intention…
    …miracles spontainously exist…
    …naturally unfolding…
    …our eternal relationship…

    …God immediately responds…
    …compassionately recipricates…
    …affectionately embraces…
    …love of God…

    …Miraculasly awakenig…
    …Divine Awarness…

    …I AM…

  • Margaret

    I’m so glad to hear this story. God is so good. Confession is especially important. St. John the Baptist wanted people to know that with a passion. Praise God for His mercy! Tell everyone in danger..”Get thee to a priest.” God loves us all and wants reconciliation before the big day/hr. This miracle was given this man, thanks to the Mother of God who’s image is on the brown scapular.

  • chris

    Father, Pleae get rid of using that frisbee for Mass. Use normal size hosts. You know the ones we have used over many many centuries!

    • Blessedx4inTX

      The purpose of the large Host is so that the faithful may adore Jesus in the Eucharist. At the moment of the Consecration we are to look on Jesus with a thankful heart, filled with praise and adoration for the Savior who loves us so much. HTH

  • Amadan

    Good thing he wasn’t an organ donor. They would’ve cut him up even sooner

  • A present day Bishop in Alaska, when he was an assistant pastor, was assigned to go to a hospital and perform the Last Rites on a patient. When he got to the hospital the nurses told him the room number. He was surprised that a seemingly healthy man was the patient.The man said there must be a mistake, but said that since he was there would the priest hear his confession, he hadn’t been to Confession in years and his conscience was troubling him. The priest heard the confession. Upon exiting the nurses hurried the priest to another patients room. They had transposed the room numbers of the two and initially sent the priest to the wrong room. A few days later the same priest was called by an elderly woman to arrange a funeral for her son, who had been less than stellar in his life. The lady said how she prayed the Rosary ever day for her son, but it didn’t seem to have mattered. When the priest heard the name, he was shocked that it was the healthy patient he had accidentally been sent to earlier. He told the mother the story and she was overjoyed at the blessing.

    • Chris

      A priest is not able to disclose hearing a confession. He is not able to disclose who and what and when!

      • Dan

        Au contraire, a priest is not allowed to disclose what was confessed. AFAIK, there is no canon that says a priest can’t say, “I heard so-and-so’s confession.”

    • SOPHIE

      Uplifting story!

  • ‘It is not enough to say that the habit of the Holy Virgin is a mark of predestination as well as the other pious practices that have been devised to honor her. I maintain that there is none that makes our predestination more certain than it, and therefore none to which one should attach himself with more zeal and confidence.’

    St. Claude de la Colombiere

  • Amazing story. Thank you.

    God bless Fr. John!

  • scott101

    I am surprised that you never mentioned the ‘power’ of the scapular.
    I am assuming it is the brown scapular, which carries the promise of Our Lady: “Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” This accounts for why the patient’s first words were a request for confession.
    A good lesson from this story is that Our Lady always keeps her promises.

    • AEscalona

      Amen, amen.

    • Sophie

      So true

  • Here is a beautiful article on the details of the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel, I am sure you will enjoy reading it. Every Catholic should be invested in the Brown Scapular, as they used to be at First Holy Communion. It is such a simple short service and insures a promise directly from the Mother of God.

  • God has not given up on humankind yet, in spite of the increasing rejection on Him!

  • JMJ
    + Need to repeat this event/story…Could you ask Father Higgins what year that took place? Just curious…Susan

  • Larry

    What a wonderful coincidence. You being there at that time.

  • Esther

    Amazing are the ways of God and the power of the Brown Scapular!

  • Mouse

    Wow, wonderful! Well, the promise is that the one who wears the scapular will not suffer eternal fire – perhaps this implies that the man would have suffered eternal fire, if he hadn’t confessed and had died at that moment, so the Blessed Mother made sure he didn’t die just then, and went to confession! That makes me want to go to confession more often!!

  • Joyce

    Yes, this is wonderful and this is nothing but Our Lady’s promise that whosoever wears the scapular will not be lost. This scapular surely has saved the person and led him to make a good confession so that his soul is not lost. We have a strong belief in our family and we see that each of us wear the brown scapular of Our Lady always.

  • Monica Uberuaga

    God always shows His Love when we least think about it.

  • Dominic DeMarino

    It’s awesome to recieve such a grace Father for you and this Man who was on His Death bed! God is awesome!

  • alison

    i think it prooves our lady keeps her promise ,also the power of a priest, and i woud also like to say that i think that the large host is a beautiful sight, especially for people who dont see as clear as others or who find it hard to see because of a large congregation,i wish more priests would use them

  • Verl Humpherys

    It is amazing how, when someone is confronted with something unexplained that they can use to support their blind faith, their brain turns off.

  • ciao

    Why is it so surprising when God works wonders through His priests?
    Priests have the power of Christ to do what He did when He walked this earth. They have the same power He gave His Apostles.

    They have to power to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, to grant absolution of our sins, to exorcise evil spirits, to touch hearts and convert souls with their words. They can do all this and more through the power of Jesus Christ in their Holy Priestly Order.
    I’m more amazed at the lack of faith in the power of the priesthood than when they raise someone from the dead through the power of God in them.
    At the same time, the proof that the scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Her promises for wearing it in faith, was clearly rewarded here.
    God save our priests and Mary love and protect them. Thanks for this story.

  • Rose

    A friend gave me a brown scapular recently – and it changed something in me and in my everyday moments. I didn’t recognize the change until a few weeks had passed – it’s subtle – yet it’s real. I believe in the magic! What a great story. It’s good to see a nice priest story once in awhile…..

  • Albert

    I have been wearing a brown scapular for 8years & wouldnt be caught without it.I had a recoversion in 2005 & have witnessed many miracles. more than once the sent of roses while praying the holy Rosary. miracles of the sun,just to name a few!!! JESUS IS SO GOOD TO ME.Lent is the hardest time of year 4 me I feel like im under attack,without confesion weekley iwould b lost. I allso wear a ST. BENIDICT CRUCIFIX allong with other holy medals all blessed with excersized holy water. you cant be to carefull in these crazy times! PRAISE BE TO JESUS & OUR HOLY MOTHER MARY. God bless everyone have a holy,bleesed Easter !

  • luis

    I believe in God. I don’t deserve to be called son but I want to.
    These things draw my attention and I wonder why from time to time this miracles come over and over. Might it be our Lord calls our attention ?.
    Thank you for sharing this miracle.

  • Art Cardenas

    Wonderful story and confirming in the Blessed Virgin Mary keeping watch over this man. Chances are that he was doing one of prerequisites for devout observance of the Brown Scapular, namely, praying the Holy Rosary daily. And we know that there are 15 promises of Holy Rosary, i.e. promise no 7: “Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church”. Fr Higgin’s was chosen by God to deliver the sacrament of Confession.

    For a complete listing of the promises, visit

    God Bless!

    For a complete listing of the 15 promises

  • Art Cardenas

    Rose said: I didn’t recognize the change until a few weeks had passed – it’s subtle – yet it’s real. I believe in the magic!

    Rose: You probably didn’t mean what you said but your choice of words is unfortunate and leads to misunderstandings by non-Catholics on what we believe in. Please remember that many non-Catholics read Catholic articles and blogs. Your comments imply that Catholics believe that our holy objects have magic powers. This of course is not true, but your words can convey that fact.

    The Brown Scapular is not a charm or other pagan is a sacramental.

    From the Baltimore Catechism:

    Question 292. Q. What is a sacramental?
    A. A sacramental is anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to increase devotion, and through these movements of the heart to remit venial sin.

    Question 294. Q. Which is the chief sacramental used in the Church?
    A. The chief sacramental used in the Church is the sign of the Cross.

    Question 302: Q. Are there other sacramentals besides the sign of the Cross and holy water?
    A. Besides the sign of the Cross and holy water there are many other sacramentals, such as blessed candles, ashes, palms, crucifixes, images of the Blessed Virgin and of the saints, rosaries, and scapulars.

    Question 303. Q. Is there any other means of obtaining God’s grace than the Sacraments?
    A. There is another means of obtaining God’s grace, and it is prayer.

    Question 1080. What is the Rosary?
    A. The Rosary is a form of prayer in which we say a certain number of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, meditating or thinking for a short time before each decade; that is, before each Our Father and ten Hail Marys, on some particular event in the life of Our Lord. These events are called mysteries of the Rosary. The string of beads on which these prayers are said is also called a Rosary. The ordinary beads are of five decades, or one-third of the whole Rosary.

    Bottom line: The Brown Scapular is a sacramental that is blessed by the Church, and helps us to lead a more devout Christian life by the helping us to be more disposed to receive God’s grace, a free and supernatural gift given to us by God, through the merits of Jesus Christ.


  • Alicia Berogan

    I do believe in the brown scapular, as a sacramental, I wear it day and night. I also address our Lady of Mount Carmel every moring.

  • Bmo

    Art Cardenas, thank you for the wonderful lesson.
    Another thought on the topic of the dead man who came back–perhaps he returned in order to receive the final sacrament, Last Rites or Anointing of the Sick, as well as having the chance to make a good confession. If the promise is to receive all applicable sacraments before death, this could be part of it. Who can know the thoughts of God?

  • Ramanathan.G. Iyer, Advocate

    It is really wonderful and possible. One Sub-Inspector of Kerala Police, while doing Inquest Examination, caused same effect of Father Higgins, upon the body of 68 years old lady and she got life again, however the Society and News Papers had only bad words about him; whereas she was lying dead for 2 days and having foul smell – please read from the web-page:
    If possible, please forward Testifications of Doctors in this case, to the Sub-Inspector of Police, Police Station North Paravur, Ernakulam Distt, Kerala State, India, Pin 683513, to give some relief in the Departmental Enquiry. Thanks

  • Martin Au

    I do not have any doubt! I believe in the power of God,His grace, flowing through every consecrated material objects. Ultimately, the person of the Priesthood of Christ.

  • Judy Moore

    I can ONLY say (as a Passionate R.C.),
    I SURE do BELIEVE !!! Amen

  • Adam Hovey

    Fr. is a really cool guy, very orthodox and knowledgeable about his faith, if you can find it, listen to the story of his conversion