On Nov. 15, two weeks after praying with Father Anthony Odiong in Luling, Andrea “Andie” Bollinger got an incredible report from one of the world’s foremost cancer centers in the world.
“I expected the tumors to be smaller,” Bollinger said. “But I didn’t expect them to be gone.”
MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas told her in writing that the malignancies in her lungs had responded to therapy and were gone. Bollinger certainly welcomes the medicine, but she believes her cure came from prayer.
“You tell me that’s not a miracle … no disease,” said the Thibodaux resident. “This never happens to them.”Bollinger’s wonderment is certainly understandable considering the report she got in September. She was told her lung cancer had spread, taking her from Stage 3 to a more advanced Stage 4. Convinced she wouldn’t live past Easter, she had spent the last three months with estate planners.
Friends in St. Charles Parish intervened by bringing Bollinger and Odiong together.
By Oct. 13, Odiong said the two prayed by the icon of the Blessed Mother in the church, and emphasized Bollinger was the first he’d prayed over at this location. The priest asked her to rise from her walker and friends accompanying her held her up during the prayer.
“I felt the Holy Spirit enter my body,” she said. “I felt like I was frozen in time … like it was just me and God. The whole time I felt his hand on me.”
When the news came that Bollinger’s cancer had disappeared, Odiong said he wasn’t surprised. He also clarified it’s a gift from God.
“She is very lucky she came on the right day at the right time and will live longer than anyone knows,” he said. “I was expecting it to happen. I’m not just praying because I’m shadow boxing. I’ve seen blind people see and lame people walk.”
Odiong said the day they prayed together was also the Day of the First Feast in Fatima, on the day of the “Miracle of the Sun.” This same date 100 years ago, three Portuguese children received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria near Fatima. In 1930, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima was initiated locally and then became part of the Church’s worldwide calendar in 2002.
“I think that Mary is trying to make a statement,” he said of Bollinger’s apparent cure.
A native of Calabar, Nigeria, Odiong came to Luling two years ago.
Word has spread about his healing masses at St. Anthony of Padua Church held on the last Thursday of each month. Many from St. Charles and surrounding parishes come to be healed both physically and spiritually.
Odiong said his gift of healing came to him in the year 2000, which led to having healing masses and his more recent decision to build a healing chapel.
Odiong feels he was sent to Luling for a reason and prayed to the Virgin Mary to clarify that purpose.
“This is what I heard one evening – ‘Why don’t you use your gift of healing?’” he said. “It all began with me kneeling and praying to the Blessed Mother … coming to Luling to give me the courage not to be afraid to use the gift.”
Bollinger said she hopes the chapel planned at St. Anthony of Padua is built because it would be important to have a place to reinforce the feeling of the experience over and over again.
“It gives me hope and peace,” she said. “It might let me live hoping and helping to spread the news.”
And, Bollinger added, “Not everybody has Father Odiong.”
Odiong is seeking evangelism rather than attention.
“I want you to believe in healing and in my life it has happened,” he said. “I believe that God can do anything.”