In ALL ARTICLES on February 17, 2012 at 4:44 am



One of the most moving love stories I’ve seen

in a very long time.  

Imagine Romeo and Juliette recast with clergy and separated not by feuding families but by their life-long religious vows to God.  Throw in not one but 2 third act heart attacks and the standard doctor’s refrain:

“there’s nothing more we can do.” 

Add the stem cell treatment twist at the finale; allowing for an extended encore of life and love extending years beyond prognosis.

Dramatic enough to make even the coldest heart sigh?

Yes.  But this…is no play.
This is REAL LIFE.

by David Granovsky

 A Priest and a Nun Get Married…

and Get Stem Cells

John Fugelsang recalls…his mother, Peggy, joined a convent after an abusive childhood, taking the name Sister Damien. But his father, Jack, had become a Franciscan monk after high school. The two met in Brooklyn when Jack – or Brother Boniface – had become ill with tuberculosis.

“From all accounts I heard, he fell madly, desperately, insanely in love with this Southern nurse in a nun’s habit that he knew he could never have, and had sworn to God he would never want to have,” Fugelsang says.
Brother Boniface did the only thing he could do. He held a secret torch for Sister Damien for some 10 years. During that time, he expressed his love through platonic letters. She had been sent to Malawi to care for people with leprosy. And every week, he would write. He kept her – and all of the sisters – apprised of the latest: of L.B.J. and M.L.K. and everything else U.S.A.
Then, her father died. When she returned home to take care of her family, Brother Boniface found out and intercepted her – showing up at the hospital where she was working and professing his love. “She was appalled,” says Fugelsang.

But eventually, Boniface won her over. They broke their religious vows and made new ones – to each other.

As Fugelsang says, it was their first love and second marriage, the first being a marriage to God. They dropped their names and became Jack and Peggy again. They had kids and lived happily married for decades, from what Fugelsang recalls.

“I can honestly say that my father’s love only grew as he got older and as they aged,” says Fugelsang. “The romance didn’t slow down for him at all. He was someone who was completely unable to separate his devotion to God from his devotion to his wife.”

Well into his 60s, Jack’s heart thumped at full force – emotionally and spiritually. But then, two heart attacks had doctors shaking their heads, saying

there was nothing they could do.
“So he just began telling everyone that he wasn’t going to die,” says Fugelsang, “that he was going to live on because he was too in love. And he held on longer than any of the doctors thought he could.”
A stem-cell treatment in Thailand afforded him a few more years.

 “It was amazing seeing how even in the last days of his life, the love just got deeper and deeper. I have photos of him in his hospital bed looking at her with a kind of naked, calm love that I’ve seldom seen on a man’s face.”


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