Mother Theresia Bonzel, who founded
 the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual
Adoration in Olpe, Germany, in 1863
DENVER—The wheels of canonization grind slowly, but a German nun who lived 100 years ago could be named a saint because the Vatican believes a Colorado Springs boy experienced a miracle in 1999. Mother Theresia Bonzel, who founded the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Olpe, Germany, in 1863, is scheduled for beatification in November—a step toward sainthood—as a result of the boy's miraculous recovery. Two Colorado Spring nuns prayed to Bonzel on behalf of 4-year-old Luke Burgie, and the events that followed—over the next 14 years—have been closely scrutinized and investigated by church officials and doctors. Just before Easter, Pope Francis affirmed that Bonzel was responsible for the miracle required for her beatification. Two miracles are required for canonization, or sainthood. Luke, now 18, doesn't remember being ill and doesn't remember suddenly getting well. He doesn't like to talk about any of it, his mother said. He has been self-conscious about the event throughout his life. "He didn't like being singled out as the miracle boy," Jan Burgie told The Denver Post on Friday. In 1998, Luke had just completed one day of preschool when he fell ill with a severe gastrointestinal condition his doctors couldn't relieve or even diagnose. He suffered for six months. He experienced violent episodes of diarrhea eight to 10 times a day, Jan Burgie said. Luke couldn't go to school. He stopped growing, his mother said. He was wasting away. And his doctors were at a complete loss. They began to suspect a tumor in his colon. "He was the sickest child or person I'd ever been around," Burgie said. But the test was never conducted because the illness vanished suddenly on Feb. 22, 1999, just as two members of Bonzel's order finished praying a novena. Sister Margaret Mary Preister and the late Sister Evangeline Spenner had just recited a series of prayers over nine straight days asking Mother Bonzel, who died in 1905, to intercede for Luke. Doctors couldn't explain Luke's sudden recovery, and the Vatican machinery for investigating alleged miracles began to churn. "We were just an ordinary family—not ultra-holy," Burgie said. She teaches yoga. Her husband, Mike, is a mechanical engineer. The family also would be investigated, as Vatican officials and medical personnel would try to ascertain whether the parents had given their child something, such as laxatives, to make him so sick for so long. "They wanted to make sure we weren't crazy," Burgie said. "I didn't mind." Journalist Bill Briggs, who wrote in depth about Catholic Church investigations into such supernatural occurrences in his book "The Third Miracle," said the process is, in a word, "rigorous." "I think what would surprise people outside the church is how very dubious investigators are," Briggs said. "To examine these claims, they look at hundreds, if not thousands, of medical records and other pieces of evidence. It's the furthest thing from a rubber stamp." Briggs said the situation or illness doesn't have to be terminal or even dramatic. The cure simply has to be rapid, complete and utterly inexplicable by ordinary means. The church interviews the original doctors in the case, and a team of independent medical experts then pore over all the records. Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan on Friday congratulated the local motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration on the Vatican pronouncement of a miracle in the Burgie case. Members of Bonzel's order first came to Colorado in 1932. The sisters number about 30 in Colorado Springs. Many are elderly and retired, and other sisters, also elderly, run a nursing home, retreat center and counseling center. Sister Clarice Gentrup, the order's vicar general, jokes she's one of the younger sisters at age 75. "We were hoping for word at Easter," Gentrup said of Luke's case. "We were very pleased when Pope Francis approved it." She knows all about the Burgie family. Luke, who has been healthy most of his life, wrestled in high school and is an avid BMX racer who works in a bike shop. He has a second job at a fast-food restaurant because he's saving money to buy a car, his mother said. He's temporarily postponing college. Sister Evangeline Spenner, who had petitioned so hard for Luke, died a few years ago, but the family has kept close ties with Sisters Margaret Mary and Clarice. The friendship began when Luke's sister, Jill, at age 8, had what her mother describes as a spiritual awakening. Jill had become very taken by Sister Evangeline when she visited the girl's religion class at St. Patrick's Catholic Church. The sisters soon became aware of Luke's terrible difficulties. After Luke's cure, the sisters became surrogate grandmothers to the Burgie children. Over the years, the family has suffered many medical trials. Jan Burgie survived breast cancer. She lost both her parents to cancer. Jill has had a heart condition since childhood and undergone three procedures. Husband Mike also has some heart disease. "If we had one miraculous healing, could we have another?" Jan Burgie said she has asked herself more than once. Briggs said despite the rigor of the canonization process, he's still a skeptic. He said he can't quite make the leap that these inexplicable events have supernatural origins. "A lot of people pray every day for miracles and don't get them," he said. Luke, the young man who can't remember his miracle, is now a strapping 6-footer with a clean bill of health from a recent physical. Luke, Jill, now 23, and their brother Tim, 21, are not observant Catholics currently, Burgie said. "God gives you time to search," she said. She, like Albert Einstein, believes people should either consider nothing to be a miracle—or consider everything a miracle. "There have been so many miracles in our lives—but just this one thing about my son had to be documented," she said. ——— Information from: The Denver Post,