The Miracles of the “Forgotten” Apostle


He had always loved entertaining people. Whether with a song and dance, or telling a joke, or acting in a movie or play, he came alive on stage. It had been that way since his childhood. He was one of ten children born into a family of Lebanese immigrants who had settled in Michigan. He’d attended Catholic schools before enrolling in the University of Toledo. While there, he was confirmed by Bishop Samuel Stritch, who would become a lifelong friend and mentor. Soon after graduation, he married and began working at several jobs to support his wife and their growing family. But times were hard and making a living as an entertainer was tough. He struggled for years to make ends meet. He leaned on his faith during those lean and difficult years. One night, a stagehand at a theater shared with him his devotion to St. Jude, who is known as the patron saint of the most difficult situations.  

This conversation prompted Danny Thomas to include St. Jude in his daily devotions. His old friend, Bishop Stritch encouraged him to call on this “forgotten” Apostle for help whenever he prayed. Poor St. Jude, whom early Christians had often confused with Judas Iscariot due to their similar names. He had tended to be overlooked as a close friend of Jesus. Not much is known of his early life, although we do know that he was the brother of James the Lesser, and both were cousins of Jesus. After the Resurrection, St. Jude and St. Simon travelled together throughout the Middle East where they preached and planted churches. It’s believed that his outspoken faith in Christ led to a martyr’s death. His body was later brought to Rome and he shares a tomb with his coworker, St. Simon in St. Peter’s Basilica. Over the centuries, devotion to this “forgotten” saint grew as he became known for his eagerness to assist even the most hopeless of causes. He was especially loved by Christians from countries in the Middle East, where he’d spent his earthly life preaching the Gospel. So here was Danny Thomas, whose family had come from Lebanon, now turning to St. Jude for his help in making a life for his own family in America.  

One morning in Chicago, Thomas went to early Mass at St. Clement’s Catholic Church and said a prayer to St. Jude for his help. “Show me my way in life and I will build you a shrine.” He put his last few dollars in the offering that morning. Within a few weeks, he began getting enough work to support his family. In just a few years, he was a star of stage and television. His devotion to St. Jude never wavered and he never forgot his promise to the “forgotten” Apostle. He formed a charity to explore the ways he might honor St. Jude and the idea of establishing a hospital for children with cancer was born. His friend, Bishop (now Cardinal) Stritch was a native of Memphis and he had connections there that would help in making the hospital a reality. In 1962, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital opened its doors as the shrine to St. Jude that Danny had promised to build. The research and treatments developed at St. Jude’s have revolutionized the care of children with cancer. The overall survival rate for childhood cancer has risen from 20 percent to 80 percent, in large part due to St. Jude’s. Families are never charged for care there and more than 81 cents out of every dollar received goes to support the care of children treated there.  

The Lord calls each of us to know Him and to share the truth of His love for us throughout the world. St. Jude answered His call. And Danny Thomas’ faith led him to keep his promise to St. Jude in gratitude and thanksgiving. His devotion to the “forgotten” Apostle has provided lifesaving care to thousands of children and their families. When we give our hearts to God and His beloved Saints, miracles happen every day. We may never know how the Lord will use our faith, not only to transform our own lives, but also the lives of others. He takes whatever we offer Him and multiples it, elevates is, and sanctifies it. Our God is the God of generosity and thanksgiving, of promises kept and hope in abundance.  

“No child should ever die in the dawn of life.”

          —–Danny Thomas  

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Adoration Rocks
    Jan 11, 2016 @ 14:13:26

    Excellent; thank you, Judy, for such a heartwarming article. We are just a short train ride away from St. Clement’s Catholic Church in Chicago.


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