Detroit Stories Episode 64: 'Irving Houle: The U.P.'s Saintly Everyman' (PODCAST)

Why a humble factory worker, grandfather, healer and prayerful man of God from Escanaba could be Michigan's next saint

(0:06) Deacon Terry Saunders tells the story of a frantic mother who took her cancer-stricken son to see a man known for his reputation for healing in the 1990s. The narrator explains the man was Irving “Francis” Houle, a grandfather, husband and average layman from Escanaba with a deep faith in God — and now a candidate for sainthood.

(4:42) Deacon Saunders, of the Diocese of Marquette, gives a brief biography of Irving Houle, a family man who grew up on a small farm in the Upper Peninsula, including an injury he suffered as a boy that led to a divine encounter.

(10:03) Houle’s faith life begins to develop in high school. He begins attending daily Mass, Eucharistic adoration, and joins the Army. Upon his discharge, he marries his wife, Gail, and the couple has five children.

(14:12) Deacon Saunders describes how he met Houle. Himself stricken by cancer, Deacon Saunders believes Houle’s intercession cured him during one of the darkest periods of his life.

(15:51) Deacon Saunders talks about Houle’s encounters with Jesus, including reports that he suffered from the stigmata — the wounds of Jesus’ crucifixion — and other sufferings on behalf of God’s children. At the permission of his bishop, Houle begins to offer healing services in the Diocese of Marquette.

(25:56) Deacon Saunders relays the story of Houle’s death in 2009, and the ministry support group that came together shortly thereafter to advocate for Houle’s life of heroic virtue.

(28:26) Marquette Bishop John Doerfler speaks to Detroit Stories about his decision to open the cause for canonization for Houle in 2018. Bishop Doerfler describes Houle’s saintly qualities.

(32:45) Valentina Culurgioni, the postulator for Houle’s sainthood cause in Rome, speaks about why she was moved to accept her assignment, and what inspires her about Houle’s life.

(36:40) Deacon Saunders speaks about why Houle is a saint for the times, and how ordinary Catholics can find a friend and a model in his life of radical trust in Jesus.

Reporting by Daniel Meloy; narration by Leah Butalid; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn

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