Canonization Process

How often do we hear people say, "Oh, she's a real saint"? Certainly Catholics have a great tradition of revering these special friends of God. And by honoring them, we honor the God whose goodness and kindness they've revealed to us through their lives of heroic virtue.

Yes, there are many saints. But the Catholic Church in her wisdom raises up certain ones from whom all the people of God can learn something important. Just think of Mother Theresa of Calcutta. What an example of self-giving love! She is a real contemporary example of holiness that transcends time and nation, a woman from whom we can all learn something.

So how does one become a saint? Today there is a very structured process. It involves three different movements. First, after the death of a holy man or women, their history is written and their written works are collected and sent to a special Vatican Congregation for review, just to be sure there are no skeletons in the closet! If everything looks acceptable, then the person is awarded the title, "Servant of God."

One thing the Vatican looks for is whether regular people still remember and venerate this person. One individual's reputation for holiness may fade fast or never grow beyond a small group of followers. The causes of others may gather more steam as years go by. Such "popularity," if you will, is in fact an important consideration when it comes to declaring someone a saint of the Church.

One other important witness is God. No one can advance past the level of Servant of God without the testimony of a miracle, God's confirmation on the matter. Once this miracle has been confirmed, the Servant of God can be declared "Blessed" in a process known as beatification. The co-founder of the Salvatorian Sisters, for example, is now Blessed Mary of the Apostles.

Our Founder, Father Francis Jordan, is already recognized as a servant of God. His cause is proceeding at the Vatican. His history has been submitted along with the evidence of one miracle, namely the cure of cancer in a woman from Augusta, Georgia. Now we await the decree of beatification. After that, another miracle is required to advance to canonization, the final step in the process to sainthood.

The better Father Jordan is known, and the more fervently he is venerated, the greater is the chance that we may learn of a second miracle, and thus further his progress to sainthood. Even more importantly, we believe that Christians may learn a great deal from the challenges he encountered and the virtues he demonstrated throughout his life: an unwavering trust in Divine Providence, a steadfast devotion to prayer, a tireless zeal for souls, and his insistence that every baptized person is called to live an apostolic life.

We promote the veneration of the saints in the hopes that we will become more like them. Living to celebrate Father Jordan's canonization day would be a great thing. But living to see that day when an ever-increasing number of women and men, both religious and lay, embrace the faith and passion that Father Jordan displayed through his life and ministry -- that would be even greater still!