Charlene Richard was born on January 13, 1947. She was a little girl who loved horses and baseball. At twelve, she began to see a vision of a woman dressed in black. Her teachers let her parents know that she wasn’t acting like herself. Her parents took her to the doctor and she was found to have advanced leukemia with little time left to live. Father Joseph Brennan, the hospital chaplain, was tasked with letting Charlene know she was dying. She took the news gracefully and spent her last couple of weeks praying for others to be healed.
Father Brennan told many about the comfort Charlene had given others. He found himself praying to her to take care of the sick. Over the years, many have prayed to Charlene or visited her graveside and have found miracles. One grandfather put a prayer card of Charlene on his dying newborn grandchild after being taken off of life support. The baby suddenly turned pink and she survived. A woman with colon cancer that spread to her lymph nodes prayed to Charlene and went into remission Her oncologist said that she was touched by something that medicine doesn’t understand.
The site of her grave does feel powerful. As I glanced at the boxes of requests in a water-proof container, I saw so much love and so much pain. People left photos of their loved ones with outlines of their ailments, like gallbladder problems and cancer. Running my hand over her name, I felt the urge to leave a note to Charlene, just in case. I tore a page from my notebook and left her a note for my friends and family.
In January 2020, she was named a “Servant of God” by her local church which is the first step towards sainthood.