Jennifer Godar, Jean Inskeep and Joan Grooms pose at the Vatican in Rome. The trio were on a pilgrimage in 2014 during which Inskeep's hearing in her left ear was apparently restored.
Woman on pilgrimage praying for others has hearing restored
When Jean Inskeep's daughter called her in January 2014 about going with her on a pilgrimage to Fatima, Lourdes and Rome, Jean had to hold the phone to her right ear because she had been deaf on her left side since 2000.
"My first question was how much does it cost?" she said. Her daughter, Jennifer Godar, who lives in Shawnee, Kansas, asked her to consider that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
After discussing it with her husband, Jean called her daughter to say she would be going, and later invited her cousin, Joan Grooms of Indianapolis — who was more like a sister — to go with them. In anticipating the trip, Jean said she remembers thinking of various family members she planned to pray for at the holy sites, especially when they got to Lourdes.
Jean, a member of Holy Cross Parish in Hutchinson, left from Kansas City on Oct. 7 with her daughter and cousin for the pilgrimage. Their first stop was Fatima, Portugal, on Oct. 9.
"Every time Joan and I would think about Fatima, we would start crying," Jean said. "We would reminisce about different things like, 'Do you remember the movie when we were kids and our uncle took us to the theater to see a movie 'about Fatima?'"
Her cousin replied, "Yes, I can't believe we're here."
When they arrived at their hotel at Fatima, both Jean and Joan, again began crying. "My daughter said 'What are you crying about?'" Jean said. "We said, 'We just can't believe we're here!'"
After breakfast the next day the group began walking toward the site, where Mass would be celebrated. "But my daughter said we need to go to the lobby to get our headsets so we could listen to the tour guide because we were going to wander around after Mass," Joan said.
After picking up their headsets, the group of 90 began walking toward the basilica. "I looked at my headset and the earpiece and I told my daughter, 'Look at this, they gave me an earpiece for my left ear. This isn't going to do me any good, I can't hear anything out of my left ear. I wonder if they have one for the right ear?"
Her daughter ran back to the hotel to exchange the left earpiece, but was told they didn't have any for the right side. "My daughter said maybe I could hold it or attach it to my glasses on my right side to make it work. I said, 'Okay, but tell me when the lady starts talking so I can hold it up to my ear.'"
After walking past a statue of Jesus, near an area where pilgrims retrieve water to take home, and seeing pilgrims making their way on their knees, she and her cousin begin weeping again. "You know, it doesn't take much," she said.
Moments later Jean's daughter told her mother the tour guide had begun to speak.
"I just reached down to grab the earpiece, not thinking — and why I did it, I have no idea — I grabbed it and I put it up to my left ear," she said. "I held it for a second and I stopped dead in my tracks and I started crying."
Her daughter — once again — asked her why she was weeping.
"I looked at her and I said 'Jennifer, I can hear.' I took it away from my ear and I said, 'Jennifer, the noise is gone! The ringing is gone! I can hear! I can hear people around me from that side.'"
Jean said she didn't want to take the earpiece away from her left ear for fear that her hearing would not return.
"I thought, well it's probably the pressure from the airplane, and it's going to pop and it's not going to be there, it's going to be gone," she said, adding that she remembers hearing people from the Orient speaking in their native languages.
After Mass Jennifer asked if she could still hear. "I could hear people at lunch and it was like Surround Sound," she said.
The news of her miracle spread and she was asked to visit with Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann, the pilgrimage's spiritual leader.
"I felt like a little kid, like what did I do that the archbishop wants to see me?" she said. "My first question to him was 'Why me?' We saw all these people who are obviously in very ill health and I said, 'Why me?'"
Archbishop Naumann told her that there's a reason her hearing returned and that she would eventually find out.
After many more tears and visits to Lourdes and Rome, the pilgrims returned home on Oct. 17. Later, during an unrelated visit, she asked her doctor to check if the two holes in her left eardrum were still there. They were.
"Do you think there's any reason I should have a hearing test?" she asked her doctor.
"Can you hear?" he asked. "I said yes, and he said, 'Why waste your time or your money…if you can hear, you can hear."
Her granddaughter, Chloe, had to be convinced, too. After testing her grandmother from Jean's left side, she said, "You really can hear me!"
"Yes," Jean said, "I really can hear you."
(Reprinted with permission from The Catholic Advance, the diocesan newspaper of Wichita, Kansas.)
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