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Miracles abound before, after crash, says nun

By Kevin Hanrahan
The New World

“I hope the people of Chicago wake up… miracles still happen,” says Sister Mary Viannea Karpinski.

The Felician sister from Chicago was one who survived the July 19, 1989, jet crash in Sioux City. She talked about her experiences at the crash site and the strange set of coincidences – miracles, she calls them – that led up to the crash.

Sister Karpinski, in high spirits July 24, 1989, at the Felician Sisters’ Marian Care Center on Chicago’s Northwest Side, believes God intervened to save many on United Airlines Flight 232.

On her vacation in Colorado the miracles began, she said, during her visit to the Mother Cabrini shrine in Boulder, two days before the July 19 crash.

As she was praying before the shrine, “I felt the statue’s eyes come alive. I felt like she was trying to warn me of something… maybe about the trip,” she reflected.

On the flight two days later, the plane jerked and shook. Ten minutes afterward, the pilot announced they were going to try to land in Sioux City.

At that point, she said, she grabbed her rosary and prayed for everyone, “God, help us the best way you can.”
When the plane plummeted to the runway, it rolled over, leaving Sister Karpinski buried beneath cabin baggage.

“I felt like I was in a cocoon,” she said. Praying both Polish and English while she was trapped, she said, “Jesus, please get me out of here. Please, dear Lord, get me some way to get out of here.”

Her prayers were answered, she said, when she was able to stick her hand through a hole and heard voices:

“Sister, sister. We’re going to get you out of here. Don’t worry.”

One man grabbed her by the legs while another grabbed her by the arms, dragging her away from the plane. She wasn’t out of danger, however.

Another man chopped a path through the corn stalks giving her a path to walk to the runway. Just as she reached the runway, the plane behind her exploded again.

Throughout the entire ordeal, she clutched her wooden crucifix that was hanging down from her neck.
“I was holding on to it (the crucifix) so hard that I thought it was going to go to splinters,” she said, while gripping the crucifix as she did on her trip to the hospital.

When she arrived at Marian Health Center, she was told that very morning a general practice drill was held at the hospital for situations such as plane crashes.

“Don’t tell me we don’t have a God,” Sister Karpinski said, referring to the coincidental hospital drill.
“God knew the crash was going to happen. That’s why they (nurses and doctors prepared from the earlier drill) were right there at hand.

She continued, “It was one miracle after another.”

After looking over all the unexplainable events and “miracles” that took place one after another, she remarked, “I’m 77 years old, and it looks like the Lord still wants me to work for him.”

Reprinted in 1989 with permission of The New World, Chicago, Ill. Sister Karpinski died in 1996.

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