Woman’s Healing May Be a Miracle for Janesville Man’s Cause
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
July 14, 2022
ROCKFORD—Kay Ethington-Vogrinc’s father, Robert Darling, grew up in Beloit, Wis., attended Brother Dutton Elementary School and became enamored with his school’s patron.
But he could not guess that many years later his own daughter would experience a healing after she and a couple of friends prayed to Joseph Dutton to intercede for her.
“My dad always loved the Brother Dutton story,” says Kay Ethington-Vogrinc, a parishioner at St. Bridget Parish in Loves Park whose husband, Brian Vogrinc, is a parishioner at Holy Family Parish in Rockford. “He always felt that Brother Dutton should be a saint.”
For years, Darling studied Dutton, a Stowe, Vt., native who was born in 1843 and by age 6 was living in Janesville, Wis. After a wayward life (see biography) Dutton was inspired to join then-Father Damien De Veuster at the leper colony on the island of Moloka’i, Hawaii. Dutton arrived there in 1886, one year after Father Damien was diagnosed with leprosy. Dutton served there until 1930, dying at age 87 in 1931. He is buried near Father Damien. Although not a member of a religious order, “brother” was a term of endearment used by St. Damien for Dutton, and he is often referred to as “Brother Dutton.”
Darling asked everyone to pray to Dutton when his wife was diagnosed with cancer; but she died eight weeks later. Years later, two of Kay’s friends remembered Darling’s call to “take it to Dutton” when they heard that Kay was seriously ill in the hospital.
In her mid-30s, Kay was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Five years earlier, she had begun to experience shortness of breath, but nothing was found, so it was easy to attribute it to a rare, non-life-threatening fibromyalgia condition.
But her breathing “progressively got worse,” Kay recalls. After a number of years, “it was to the point where I could not walk down stairs (without) sitting for 10 minutes before getting up. I just couldn’t breathe,” she says.
A different pulmonologist identified hypertension, and a chief hospital cardiologist, a friend and parishioner at her parish, diagnosed her with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension.
“At onset,” Kay says, “the chance of survival for three years is 50%. I feared I was already in a fatal zone.”
Before her mother’s death Kay’s parents had taken annual trips to Hawaii. In 2013 her father was in Hawaii when Kay went into the hospital for an angiogram, “the best way to get into the heart/lung area without opening you up,” she says. “Their goal was to go in and hope to find … that medication could prolong my life.”
That day, Kay spoke with her father on the phone but didn’t tell him her situation. 
For his part, Darling told her about how his new Hawaiian friend, Bill Rodriguez, took him to a Damien Guild meeting and to meet Bishop Clarence “Larry” Silva, and that they all were interested in Darling’s research about Dutton.
“That reminded me to pray to Dutton,” Kay says. At the hospital, she asked the doctor not to give her a relaxant, saying, “I have to pray and I need to be completely alert.” 
She remembers telling Dutton, “Now’s your time. Please do this for my dad.” She did not know until later that her two friends, separately, were at that moment intently praying to Dutton to intercede for her.
The angiogram began. Halfway through the test, the doctor suddenly stopped, and then called for another catheter.
“The room got quiet,” Kay says. “I could see a look in his eyes. I remember thinking, ‘Wait a second; it doesn’t hurt to breathe’ … (The doctor) had me doing exercises, and my blood pressure never changed.
“Finally, the doctor bent over and looked into my face. He was crying and said, ‘I don’t know what happened.’ I told him, ‘Don, you know what happened, and now we have to claim it.’”
When the doctor talked to Kay’s family, “he kept shaking his head (and) looked like he’d seen a ghost,” they told Kay, adding that he said, “Everything’s fine. I can’t explain it. Her heart’s fine.”
“They even did a separate echocardiogram,” Kay says. “I just knew … just knew. I felt so much joy inside me. I was fearless. I just knew I was okay.”
Kay and her father sent Kay’s healing story along with testimonies from the doctor and Kay’s two friends to the Diocese of Hawaii. Her father’s research was sent also, even though in 2013, Dutton’s cause had not been opened by the diocese.
Robert Darling died two years ago, and when Kay called Rodriguez in Hawaii, she told him, “When my dad gets to heaven, things will start moving and shaking” for the Dutton cause. 
Last year on her honeymoon, Kay heard from Rodriguez that the process was, indeed, started. This year, a May 10 Mass and short ceremony formally opened the diocesan inquiry phase. Bishop Silva is quoted in the May 11 Hawaii Catholic Herald that, “Now with the formal opening of his cause … we can take a second look at this (healing) and possibly submit the testimonials now.”
Brian and Kay have since visited Moloka’i as part of a pilgrimage. They briefly met the bishop and, although they could not visit the leper colony on the peninsula of Kalaupapa, they did visit with one patient, 88-year-old Nellie, and two religious sisters who serve there. On the return flight to Oahu, the pilot of the small plane flew them right over Kalaupapa.
“I wasn’t expecting that in Hawaii, I (would feel) such a presence of my father,” Kay says. “I wasn’t expecting (the trip) to be emotional; I was very overwhelmed.”
Although she hopes her healing will be a first miracle for Brother Dutton’s cause, “it’s not about me,” she says. “It is about this incredible man, (and to see) the devotion my dad had become a reality.
“This whole thing (has to) put a smile on my dad’s face.”


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