[Colleen Willard’s story appears on numerous websites and there are YouTube videos of her testimony. I have taken the following article from www.andamazinggrace.blogspot.com.au. It has only been slightly edited by me]:
When a woman from the western suburbs of Chicago named Colleen Willard, who apparently experienced a remarkable healing at the famous apparition site of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina went to her doctor in Chicago, a pulmonary specialist, she walked right up to the reception desk and said, “I’m Colleen Willard.” Everyone in the office knew her by sight and said, “No, you’re not.” Shocked, she said, “Yes, I am!” They screamed, running through the office yelling, “Dr Duggan, Dr Duggan, come here!” Baffled by the excitement in his office he walked into the room quickly. He saw Colleen and, as if struck by lightning, his entire perspective on life changed. He said, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!”
We first heard Colleen’s story in September from long-time Medjugorje resident Patrick Latta. Immediately we called Gail and Jack Boos and heard the following story from Gail:
“Colleen suffered from an inoperable brain tumour that affected her pituitary gland and all of her fine and gross motor skills. She had rickets, her thyroid had completely dried up to the size of a raisin, she had lupus, fibromyalgia and nine other painful and deadly illnesses. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota (top research clinic in the United States for spinal cord injuries and brain tumours) reminded Colleen often that just to be a alive was a miracle, even without the brain tumour. We first met Colleen when she asked us, despite her pain, if she could volunteer for our organisation, St Clare Helper of the Poor, Inc. She became one of our biggest fund raisers for refugees and the poor in Bosnia, utilising the telephone when her voice permitted.
“In the last stages of cancer, Colleen’s suffering became so extreme that prayer was her only recourse. She could no longer climb the stairs to her bedroom or prayer room, she could not go to the bathroom without assistance, and to only touch her skin caused unimaginable pain. Colleen’s husband, John continued to work while their 21-year-old son agreed to stay home and take care of Colleen. One day I shared with Colleen about our many trips to Medjugorje. Colleen felt inspired to go but she knew she couldn’t go in her present physical state. And with medical bills from Mayo Clinic piling up, her family simply did not have the money. Still, Colleen said, ‘I don’t want to go for a healing, I only want to go and experience Blessed Mother and this holy place.’ That was in April. In August, Colleen called us and said, ‘John and I are praying about going on this trip.’ I said, ‘Colleen, it would only be by the grace of God that you could make it across the ocean in your condition.’ And she said, ‘No, Gail, we’ve been praying with our hearts and I said to the Lord, ‘Lord, if you really want me to go, I need a confirmation. Let Fr Agniello call me tomorrow and I will know that I am supposed to go.’ The next morning at 9:00 Fr Agniello called and said, ‘Colleen, I don’t know why but I’m supposed to call you this morning.’ So she knew that she and John were meant to go. That was her confirmation.
“We were down to the last couple of weeks of getting everything ready to go to Medjugorje. John paid their fare and we were all to meet in Chicago. I told John that I thought it was really important that he take out a second insurance policy on Colleen because if she were to get really sick in Medjugorje, she might die and the cost to get her back home might be six or seven figures.
“Just a week before leaving, she was in the hospital. She was supposed to be on oxygen in order to survive. This was last year. She could hardly speak for more than several minutes at a time. ‘It wasn’t actually confirmed as cancer, because they could not even do a biopsy,’ Colleen said later. ‘It was an inoperable brain tumour that sat right in front of the hypothalamus gland next to the major blood vessel in the brain.’
“Getting onto the plane, Colleen and John were miraculously upgraded to business class. Colleen was given medication every two hours to control the pain. In Split airport, John and Jack took Colleen’s feet and lifted them one at a time, step by step onto the bus. But in all of her pain she was joyful, always smiling, always praising God that she had made it that far.
“The next morning, the visionary Vicka was speaking. Colleen was pushed in her wheelchair as far as she could go in order to get a glimpse of Vicka. But all of the people around were pushing her, leaning on her, mothers were bringing their children in and passing them over her head — I thought ‘I made a horrible mistake by bringing her up here. Please Lord forgive me. This is too much for her.’ Just then her head dropped and I thought Colleen had died because she had told me that she could die at any moment if the pituitary gland gave way or her head was hit too hard. Her husband was way in back so he pushed his way through the crowd, lifted her head back, put some morphine mixed with another medicine under her tongue and we waited. It took her quite some time to revive.
“When Vicka finished speaking she pushed her way through the crowd and approached Colleen. Her first words to her in English were ‘Praise God! Praise God!’ Vicka opened her arms, reached inside Colleen’s wheelchair and pulled her into her chest, hugging and kissing her, holding Colleen’s body. Then she put her left hand on Colleen’s head and as she went to put her right hand also, pilgrims literally pulled her hand away and stuffed prayer petitions, Rosaries and pictures into her hand. But Vicka, with her beautiful heavenly presence and her smile, continued to pray over Colleen and several of us saw this. It looked like a golden globe came from Vicka’s hand. Vicka had her hand on Colleen for a long time and Colleen kept saying, ‘My head is like coals! My head is burning! It’s like a spiral going through my body!’ When Vicka finished prayer over Colleen — about 10 minutes — she bent over and hugged Colleen again and kissed her again. Colleen was crying.
“So we got Colleen into a taxi and back to church and John rolled her to the very front. Jack and I stayed at the back. Later, Colleen shared with us that when the priest began to consecrate the host, she heard the Blessed Mother say, ‘My daughter, will you surrender to God the Father? Will you surrender to the Holy Spirit? Will you surrender to my Son, Jesus?’ and Colleen heard Blessed Mother say ‘Will you surrender now?’ and Colleen said, ‘Yes, I will surrender now, all for the glory of heaven, all for the glory of God.’ At that moment, her legs began to tingle.
“As Vicka prayed, Colleen was taken into a different realm. One observer said it looked like ‘a golden globe came from Vicka’s hand. Vicka had her hand on Colleen for a long time and Colleen kept saying, ‘My head is like coals! My head is burning! It’s like a spiral going through my body.’ She added, ‘There was total silence. I’ll tell you this — I’m not afraid of dying any more. There wasn’t even light. The moment she placed her hand on my head, all outside sound stopped, totally. I was so immersed in the presence of God, nothing else existed but Him and His presence.’
“It also occurred during Mass. Colleen feels that the Blessed Mother spoke to her. ‘God does not give you a disease and leave you abandoned’ is the way she summarises the lesson. And he brought that message all the way to Bosnia. ‘He was still there, the whole time, and it was right before the consecration at Mass that Our Lady had said this. And when I heard Her, never having heard Her before, as God is my witness, I heard Her as if it went through my entire self. And when She spoke, I couldn’t hear any other words that were being said. When the Eucharist was placed on my tongue, immediately at that point I was aware of heat leaving, and when the heat was leaving, the pain that I had 24 hours a day started to go. It was at that point, after Holy Communion, that my husband looked at me and never said a word. He saw on my face what was happening, and got down on his knees next to the wheelchair. I said John, please get me out of this wheelchair. It feels cumbersome. I can move my hands. I can move my arms. Look — there’s no pain!’ The the shock of observers, she was able to get out of the chair.
“It was a total shock. John was behind her pushing the empty wheelchair and there stood Colleen. she walked right out of church. We went to Viktor’s restaurant and people were running to her. They had heard of the healing and even seen it. She walked back to the pansion where she played with her husband, pushing him in the wheelchair. The next day she climbed Apparition Hill on her own. Then she made it to the sixth station on Krizevac, even though she had the strength to make it to the top — at the request of a priest — she prayed instead of continuing.
“Upon her return to the team of doctors in the United States who were looking after her health, Colleen was completely tested and all tests came back normal. She now has a working thyroid, the brain tumour has disappeared and all illnesses are eradicated from her body. But, Colleen and John wondered how they would explain her healing to the doctor at the Mayo Clinic. When she opened the door for her appointment, the doctor pushed his chair away from his desk, smiled at her and said, ‘So, you’ve been to Medjugorje. You are our third major inexplicable healing coming from there.’ The problem was solved. There was nothing to explain.
“Colleen’s healing has joined hundreds of others in St James parish records which closely resemble those from Lourdes. But Colleen’s story is far from being over. As she was courageously serving Jesus and the poor before her healing, offering up the terrible and continuous pain she endured, she now offers her health to answer Jesus’ call. The key words of Colleen’s life and of all the incredible blessings which are flowing from it, are indeed, ‘Yes, I surrender!’
“The healing process was at full throttle. God had intervened. Most of the ailments had disappeared. And now it is up to the experts at the parish and even at the Vatican to discern if this is a recognisable miracle — one of the hundreds reported at the apparition site. As for Colleen, her advice to the inform — remember that when we are sick, there are many blessings available.”