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Super Man

January 8, 2014

“Stronger than a locomotive”

Since I was a kid, my favorite superhero – the one I always wanted to be when I got older – was Superman.

Let me tell you about the man of steel. I saw him in church this week. I held his hand. It was strong.

Nick Karas, a man I have known since I was a young boy, sitting several pews behind him in church on Sunday’s – like clockwork – for decades – is a man of faith. He is a nice man. He is a man’s man. He is a family man. He is a strong man.

Nick Karas is 87 years old and will be 88 on February 16th. He is often is referred to as The Greek because of his Greek heritage. One might say he is SuperGreek. (Funny side note: When I mentioned that to my son Canyon who also has sat behind Nick in church for years, and knows who he is, ad libbed Rick James’ tune Super Freak singing “He’s a Super Greek…He’s Super Greeky”. lol)

Nick has lived in Midlothian, IL and St. Christopher parish since 1957. He raised a beautiful family. His wife passed away a few years ago. But Nick has been a regular at 11am mass at St. Christopher, sitting near the front of church, for decades. He is a friendly man and is well known and respected. He would sit on the center aisle and shake hands or knock fists with people who know him on their way up to receive communion. He’s been an upstanding member of our church and community for many years. He was a lector at mass – doing readings – in a deep, gruff voice that made you think you were hearing Old Testament stories in God’s own voice. He’s been a good friend to many. He is a great sign of faith to us all.

On October 8, 2012, Columbus Day, Nick Karas, 86 years old at the time, was critically injured when the minivan he was driving was hit by a Metra train in Midlothian. Details of what happened are limited. It is believed that Nick may have had a medical incident and passed out, most unfortunately of all places, on the railroad tracks.

I saw a photograph of the minivan Nick had been driving days later and it was demolished with the impact hitting the drivers side front door area and collapsing the driver compartment over to the passenger side of the car. The driver would have had to have been crushed; there was no longer any driver’s compartment.

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Nick probably should not have survived that accident. Most people would not have.

But Nick, even at his age, is no ordinary man. Nick is a super man; a strong man; a man of faith; a man of God. And God is with those who call on His Holy Name. And he did survive it.

While Nick was in critical condition fighting for his life, we prayed – day after day.

My kids, who also knew Nick from church, would also pray with us for Nick at meal times and at bed time.

Reports on Nick’s condition were bleak…day after day after day. Reports, even from friends of faith, were that he wouldn’t survive it; that he would never come home again; that he would never walk again; that he would never come back to mass at St. Christopher again. Day after day the reports were grim. But day after day, Nick hung on.

I went to visit Nick in the hospital with my mom many months after the accident. I won’t detail what I witnessed there. Suffice it to say that though he had gotten out of intensive care, his condition had me doubtful he would ever get back home again.

Months after I saw Nick in the hospital, Nick finally did come home on June 15, 2013 – eight months after the accident.

Soon after later that same month I was at St. Christopher Church for a special farewell mass for Fr. Laurent Mgamba who was leaving our parish for a new parish assignment when Nick was pushed in a wheelchair by his son into the church. It was a sad farewell occasion for our friend Fr.Laurent, but it was a joyful occasion for us all to witness Nick Karas come back to St. Christopher for mass after all he had been through. It was an answer to many prayers. It was a miracle.

Nick has been coming to masses at St. Christopher for months now. Each time he does, he witnesses God’s power, and mercy, and glory, and love for those who love Him. A friend who also knows Nick recently said that when Nick comes into church for mass I feel like I am witnessing a miracle. I do too.

Nick sits in the front row along the aisle, and as people who know him pass him they touch his shoulder, or kiss him, or hold his hand, and greet him on their way up for communion. He is a living miracle and we are better for knowing Nick, witnessing his faith for so many years, and still being able to worship The Lord with our friend, Nick.

Recently, as his daughter pushed him into church in a wheelchair, I saw Nick wink at someone. That’s Nick. He is still confident and putting others at ease.

As I passed Nick in the communion line on Christmas Day I heard him singing Silent Night in his signature gruff voice. What a glorious sound! How joyful a Christmas gift!

And, recently when I went up to communion, I touched Nick’s shoulder, saw him look up at me, he took my hand and held it for a moment, and he smiled at me. I thought I was showing my respect and care for Nick. But really he was ministering to me in a profound way that only one who has lived a life of faith can.

Tonight, as I prayed goodnight prayers with my son, Canyon, we prayed a prayer of thanksgiving to God for answered prayers that Nick has found healing and given us a wonderful example of faith and strength. What a wonderful gift of a moment to acknowledge God’s majesty and foster my son in his own faith.

What a super man….and, many years since I was a kid, that is still what I want to be when I get older.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. bill burns permalink
    January 15, 2014 1:30 pm

    u are a great writer ed

  2. Ed Novick permalink*
    August 31, 2014 12:20 pm

    Praise God! This morning Nick WALKED into morning mass. No wheelchair. We’d seen him stand and take a few steps before, but today he walked in to church. Glory to God!

  3. Ed Novick permalink*
    January 8, 2015 5:34 am

    I wasn’t there to witness it myself, but was informed that Nick was at St. Christopher the evening they decorated the church for Christmas last month. The decorating committee did a great job. Glory to God that he was doing well enough to be there and do that.

    Just a year earlier I was at church to help decorate for Christmas and talked to Nick’s daughter that night to get an update of how Nick was doing for information to write this story. His daughter shared her own stories of the miraculous healing she had witnessed.

    Nick is 88 now. God bless him!

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