Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
the Inland Register
(From the May 21, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)
Archdiocese of Portland
ROCKAWAY BEACH – Carl Peters didn’t want this story written.
The 92-year-old Manzanita, Ore., man, a member of the St. Mary by the Sea Parish, thought being in the newspaper too much self-glorification. But over time, parish staff persuaded Peters that his story is not really about him, but about the power of God and faith.
Peters was born to a 15-year-old mother in northern Vermont during the cold spring of 1923. Her husband got one look at the baby and decided it was not his, and so skedaddled. The young mother took her baby boy and moved in with her parents.
Life for any child would not have worked out well in the grandmother’s home. Carl was rescued by a couple who had helped raise his mother. This couple took Carl to live with them in the village of Enosberg Falls, Vt., population 1,400. He would ride through the streets with his foster father on the horse-drawn garbage wagon. The man also plowed the streets and took care of the city’s skating rink. Carl learned you do whatever it takes to care for a family.
The boy was developing normally in most ways, but would not speak. When he was 5, his foster parents took him to Granby, Quebec – near Montreal – to see Brother André Bessette. Brother André, a humble doorman and member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, was helping thousands of people access the healing powers of God via St. Joseph.
“I remember him to this day,” says Peters. “He was a short man and appeared as a very stern person.”
Brother André, who himself had grown up poor, was by that time in his 80s. Brother André blessed Carl and gave the family holy oil with instructions to anoint Carl on the head every night. Brother André insisted having faith and practicing faith would put Carl on the right path. The cure came almost immediately.
“I could not talk and then suddenly I could,” Peters says.
His foster parents reported that his first word was “toad.”
Brother André fervently refused credit or glory for healings, pointing toward St. Joseph and God.
Carl’s foster parents died when he was a teen and he spent his high school years being raised by the daughter and son-in-law of the couple. He calls both sets of foster parents “the greatest people I could ever have to raise me,” saying they taught him to care for others.
A month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Peters joined the Army Air Corps, trained as a meteorologist, and developed weather reports for U.S. pilots in China and India. After the war, he worked for the U.S. Weather Bureau in South Dakota, Montana, and Medford.
For five decades, Peters has made regular pilgrimages of thanks to St. Joseph Oratory in Montreal, which was built by the efforts of Brother André, who died in 1937 and was canonized in 2010. Peters, his wife, and daughter went to Montreal to watch the canonization of St. André via satellite from Rome.
“I have been really fortunate in my life, blessed by so many of the people I’ve come into contact with,” he says. “God has always given me some breaks.”
When Peters turned 47, his parents got back together and remarried. They lived together until their passing when they were in their 90s.
Now, Peters is known to people up and down the coast as the “candy man.” Children at St. Mary’s by the Sea know he keeps a bag of sweets to hand out at church.
Peters is still working a couple of hours a day, two days a week. Locals come just to get treats and see him.
“Candy makes everybody happy,” he says. “You can put a smile on just about everybody’s face with a piece of candy costing about a penny.”
Peters won’t mention it, but he gives more than candy.
“He does so many good works anonymously,” says Cathy Embrie, a member of St. Mary’s by the Sea. “He does things quietly.”
Peters is “a benevolent presence,” says Good Shepherd Sister Joan Spiering, who lives at the coast. “He doesn’t say a lot. He kind of shines.”
– Catholic Sentinel (Oregon Catholic Press)
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