A year ago, the congregation of St. Joseph Shrine Catholic Church in Brooklyn, Michigan was in mourning. Their pastor, The Very Rev. David Hudgins, 53, passed away in an automobile accident. Without warning the vibrant, gregarious, and humble head of their church was gone. It was a shock. Father Dave was their beacon who, by example, led his flock closer to Jesus.
While they were saddened by their great loss, members of the parish knew Father Dave was not afraid of death. Shortly before Father Dave passed, he wrote an article for the parish bulletin about the baptism of the Lord and our own baptism. The following is an excerpt of his message:
This is your seal of eternal life. Only sin can warp God’s masterpiece, and even then, He can and will restore you, if you wish. If we keep this covenant until the end, remaining faithful to Jesus, we can hope to see God and share in the resurrection and the life of the world to come.
For months, visiting priests came to perform Mass at St. Joseph’s Shrine. On Father’s Day, June 18, 2022, the congregation rejoiced as Father Zachary Mabee was officially named the new pastor.
On Tuesday, January 3, 2023, on the first anniversary of Father Dave’s death, the parish gathered to celebrate his life. Bishop Boyea presided over a twilight Mass assisted by Father Zach and Deacon Gene Hausmann. Afterward, everyone stood around Father Dave’s gravesite for more prayers.
Marcia Kortas, a member of St. Joseph’s Shrine, took pictures with her phone to commemorate the occasion. Marcia and her husband, Don, considered Father Dave a dear friend. “We were close, very close,” she said. After reviewing the photographs, she was amazed by what she saw. In one, a very clear beam of light radiated down, illuminating a gold cross held in the air by an assistant and the Book of Blessings which Father Zach and Bishop Boyea read from.
But … where did the light come from? The only light source in the immediate vicinity was the luminaries atop of Father Dave’s grave and handheld candles.
Marcia shared the picture with several members of the congregation. Marcia, and many others, believe it was a sign. She told me, “I think Father Dave did it to give us hope and to let us know he is still with us and that we are loved.”
Remarkably, this isn’t Marcia’s only possible sign from Father Dave. Three days after his passing, January 6, 2022, while travelling to Adrian, Marcia looked out the window and the sky was yellow. “There was a huge cross in the sky. Very definitely, a cross, and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s from Father Dave,’” Maria said. Then, while on her way to Father Dave’s funeral Mass in Lansing, on January 8, 2022, Marcia saw another rare cloud formation. “I looked to the east while travelling up US-127 and there was a huge V in the sky. There were others in the car, and we all saw it. I said, ‘Victory over death,’ that’s what Father Dave always used to say, ‘Victory over death.’”
In a statement given to me by Father Zachary Mabee he said, “Our evening memorial for Fr. David Hudgins was a blessed time of prayer and sacred remembrance. Bishop Earl Boyea joined us, along with nearly a dozen priests, to give thanks to God for Fr. Dave’s life and ministry and to pray for his eternal repose. Following Mass, the crowd, which filled the church, processed to Fr. Dave’s gravesite in the Shrine cemetery. As we were saying prayers there together, a photograph was taken, in which it appears that a beam of light was shining directly down onto the Bishop and those assisting him, from the upper lefthand corner of the photo. While we don’t ascribe such an image confidently or with haste to extraordinary supernatural causes, the photo has been for many a uniquely striking testimony to the power and love of God, in which we were all gathered, in gratitude, that night.”
Marcia’s incredible picture from Father Dave’s gravesite has been saved and shared by many people in the community. No one else has come forward with a picture of the beam of light and none of the people present have said they saw it with their naked eye. Regardless, it gives comfort to those who still miss the quick-witted man with the mega-watt smile. For the believers, his light still shines upon us, perhaps even brighter than before.
Comments / 1