Lead by the Lord in the Cause for Servant of God Cora Evans
Mike McDevitt and Mike Huston discuss their transformative roles as custodians
Mike McDevitt and Mike Huston discuss their transformative roles as custodians
When Father Frank Parrish S.J. asked Michael McDevitt to be a custodian for the writings of Servant of God, Cora Evans, a convert to Catholicism, resident of Boulder Creek, and mystic now being studied for the possibility of elevation to Venerable by the Holy See, Michael responded, “Yes,” followed by, “What is a custodian?’
More than twenty years later, as one of a pair in charge of furthering Cora’s cause for canonization — what ‘custodian’ meant in this case — McDevitt and his co-custodian Mike Huston both assert that it is our Lord who continues to answer that question. Mc Devitt writes as much in the introduction to the Selected Writings of Cora Evans, a primer that introduces the reader to Cora’s prolific corpus detailing firsthand her encounters with Christ, our Lady, and how she became divinely entrusted with promulgating a devotion to the Mystical Humanity of Christ.
McDevitt boasts a personal connection with Cora as Father Frank Parrish is his uncle and was her Spiritual Director for twelve years until she passed away in 1957. Early on, his cousin Mike Huston also took up the mantle of championing Cora’s cause. Their partnership began in 1993 when Michael McDevitt asked Huston to assist him and Father Frank in developing a three-day retreat based on reflections of Cora’s writings. Huston has been devoted to Cora and the Mystical Humanity ever since.
Born in 1904, Cora Evans was a lay woman, raised and married in the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City. Her alleged first mystical experience, an apparition of the Our Lady, occurred when she was three years old, which she would only come to understand much later. In 1935, while living in Ogden, Utah, Cora was sick in bed, while a radio on the other side of the room played a local Catholic hour. Despite her aversion to Catholicism, Cora listened to Monsignor Duane Hunt talk about the Catholic faith and the Virgin Mary. After her conversion, before relocating to California, Cora influenced many Mormons to become Catholic through her writings and heroic virtues.
Father Frank Parrish was appointed Cora’s spiritual director in 1945 when she and her family moved to Southern California. There, Mike McDevitt had the opportunity to meet Cora personally: "When I was a young child, Cora visited our family home, and I knew she was someone special.” Similarly, Mike Huston has a personal tie to Cora through family members, “My grandmother, mother and father were very close to Cora. They were eyewitnesses to her holiness and her mystical life. They observed her in ecstasy and witnessed her stigmata, fragrances of sanctity, and heroic virtues. They were part of her circle of friends who encouraged, supported, and protected her during the last seven years of her life.”
"I believe without a doubt that Jesus wanted me to participate in this ministry.” - Mike McDevitt
When asked about their belief in Cora’s cause, both Huston and McDevitt testified strongly to Cora's writings as a source of personal edification and as beneficial for the faithful. Additionally, they consider Cora herself as an important figure for the Church, especially for converts and mothers who have lost children. Mike Huston tied Cora’s mission to promote devotion to the “Mystical Humanity of Christ” with today’s Eucharistic Revival, “Jesus talked to Cora about this over seventy years ago. The Mystical Humanity is a Eucharist revival, and Cora’s life and writings support this.” Mc Devitt echoed Huston’s statement, “The focus of the Eucharistic Revival is on the real presence of Jesus. Cora’s message focuses on embracing the real presence and taking Jesus with you every day. We are His temples, and Jesus wants to live his resurrected life through our humanity.”
Their website explains this Eucharistic Spirituality of Cora’s message, “The Mystical Humanity of Christ, a way of prayer that encourages people to live with a heightened awareness of the indwelling presence of Jesus in their daily lives.” Mike Huston further explained, “The Mystical Humanity is a process of opening up yourself and heart to inviting Jesus to be with you every day.”
“The Mystical Humanity is a process of opening up yourself and heart to inviting Jesus to be with you every day.” - Mike McDevitt
Through retreats, both McDevitt and Huston have witnessed the transformational effect of this devotion. Huston states, “Our retreats and talks were based on faith sharing with the retreatants. Their responses after reading and reflecting on Cora’s writings were incredibly uplifting and inspiring, knowing the effect it had on them.” Mc Devitt said, “Faith sharing and Mass, in a retreat setting with thousands of lay people, has been a gradual transforming process.” When asked how it has been personally transforming, he replied, “I realized that I must live Eucharistic spirituality to teach it to others. It is the way I live, the form of prayer I have taught; it is intended for all the faithful.”
Reflecting on the process itself
Mc Devitt, who was the first to say “yes” to becoming a custodian, continues to grow in his understanding of his title, “As I reflect on being given the opportunity to be custodian, I am humbled. During the early years of this ministry, I used the lighthearted question, ‘Lord, are you sure You got the right guy?’ Now I realize that my role is best summed up as being a person doing what he ought to or is expected to do.” Michael Huston acknowledges that learning the Church’s prescribed steps for canonization was no small feat, “The process of canonization has been extremely complicated for us, being lay petitioners for a lay person’s cause. We lacked any knowledge or experience of Canon Law, but our journey has been astonishing.”
Both custodians’ conviction for Cora’s cause has not been diminished. For Huston, “I realized that Cora’s work was important for the Church, and Jesus wanted her life and work to be known. I believe without a doubt that Jesus wanted me to participate in this ministry.” McDevitt shared similar inspiration, “I continue to be inspired by divine Providence at work in every area of the sainthood process, including our postulator, funding, the development of the historical commission, theological censors, canon lawyers, and our Rome postulator. We have been led by our Lord throughout the process.”
Led by the Lord
“Our motto became ‘Led by Our Lord’ as he removed all obstacles and opened our path to success,” Huston explained, and related that, for him, “Learning more about Cora’s life and her writings alone transformed my faith into a more personal love for Jesus.” Cora’s writings also brought McDevitt closer to Jesus, “as an adolescent, I read the draft copy of Cora’s The Refugee from Heaven. This story of Jesus’ life greatly influenced my faith and my appreciation for the depths of Cora’s spirituality.”
"We lacked any knowledge or experience of Canon Law, but our journey has been astonishing.”- Mike Huston
McDevitt shared a prayer attributed to Cora, “May God bless you with all the desires of the Eternal Father and bless the wishes of your soul.” For both men, as blessings go, working for Cora’s cause is one in and of itself. Mike Huston says, “Promulgating the Mystical Humanity and Cora’s Cause has been a significant responsibility for me during the last twenty-nine years and has been one of my greatest blessings.”
Cora died in 1957 in Boulder Creek, California, and is buried at the Santa Clara Mission Cemetery. Her cause for sainthood was opened in 2011 by the Monterey Diocese and approved and sent to the Vatican in 2023 after twelve years of investigation. Two miracles are required for her to reach sainthood.
For more information about Cora and her cause for canonization, visit https://www.coraevans.com/
Mike Huston grew up in Los Angeles and attended Santa Clara University. He worked in San Francisco for Towers Perrin consulting and was the Executive Vice President and Regional Manager for the Western United States. He has been a parishioner at Sacred Heart Parish for forty years.
Michael McDevitt is a highly respected retreat leader and spiritual motivation speaker. He is the Executive Director of the Mystical Humanity of Christ, Inc., a nonprofit Catholic service, and publishing organization. He and his wife Pam are parishioners of Saint Catherine of Siena, Burlingame, California. They have four children and eight grandchildren.