On Nov. 17, 1948, Irving married the former Gail LaChapelle at St. Joseph Church in Escanaba and eventually had five children: Stephen, Peter, John, and twins Matthew and Margo.
Over the years, Irving was employed with Robert’s Shoes, Montgomery Ward, Northern Chemical Supply, Harnischfeger Corporation, and worked for 15 years at EMP as the first plant manager. He was a member of St. Joseph and St. Patrick’s Church and was active with the Knights of Columbus. Irving was a simple hard working man with no college education and no formal religious or theological studies.
“My beloved son, I am asking you to prepare yourself, my son, to receive my Holy Wounds. I will be using you in a special way, but I need you to continue to pray. Place your complete trust in me and do not be afraid of the future, for I will give you the necessary graces to accept this gift. You will be persecuted, as I was persecuted.”
“I want you to consecrate yourself to my Mother. That way you will become closer to me. For she was blessed above all creatures, but she was hidden during her lifetime by the Holy Spirit. She will look after you and protect you. I am surrounding you with people whom you can trust when you have your difficulties. Go to them and I will speak to you through them. You will know these people by the peace in your heart. My peace is always with you, my son. Now go and prepare yourself.”
|Irving "Francis" Houle mystically suffering the nightly Passion of Jesus|
On May 2nd, 1993 at 2:15AM Francis received the following message from our Blessed Mother:
“My dear Son:
Go out and TOUCH MY CHILDREN. Your hands are my Son’s hands. Continue to evangelize. Bring back many to the Sacrament of Penance and to celebrate the Eucharist. You are under the protection of me and my Son. Look around. You are surrounded with love, love, love.
Thank you my son.”
and another on June 8, 1993, 2:00AM :
“My beloved Son:
I come to you this night to tell your how much your prayers and suffering have meant to my Son and I. Your suffering has been long my child. Your have pleased my Son and I. We will continue to be close to you….
You are to pray and to use your hands to touch my children. I am your Mother and I will show you the way. Just trust in Jesus for He will allow no harm to come to you.
This is a journey to the Father, who loves you. Do not falter my son, for I am with you. You belong to my Son, not to this world. I bless you this night and ask you to share this blessing with all my children that come to you. Share my message with them. Tell them of the love and mercy of my Son. Pray, all of you, for those who have gone astray.
I love you and all my children . Go now, take my words into your heart, for they are nourishment which will help you, my beautiful ones, to grow. I pray with you and for you.
Your loving mother.”
..... Continue to touch my children. Many have come back to my Son. Use your hands. I will show you the way. Trust in Jesus for He will allow no harm to come to you .... "
|Stigmata of Irving Francis Houle|
One of the many interesting facets of Irving's laying of hands upon the faithful and praying for them individually was that soon after he began doing so his hands would become very, very hot, to the extent that it became necessary at each healing service to have a bowl of ice water nearby, so that Irving could occasionally submerge his hands into the freezing water to cool them. While we cannot come to any conclusions as to what was occurring on a spiritual level when Irving was praying for others and laying his hands upon them, we can however surmise that there must have been something special occurring on at least the physical level in what concerns his stigmata, given the intense heat that he would feel in his hands.
"About the suffering, the physical things, I would say these I can handle, but the persecution, the skeptics, and the sly remarks made - that stays in your heart."
And comparing the physical pain of the stigmata and the nightly experience of undergoing the Lords passion in comparison to the emotional suffering caused by others he stated, "When the pain of the passion is over, it is over until the next night, and I don't worry or think about it. But persecution stays in your heart continuously. That is what I find the hardest. So many beautiful things happen, but there are some trying to destroy all that. That's what hurts."
Irving stated that he told Jesus that ..."there would be no purpose for him to continue his life if he could not suffer for the conversion of sinners and for the salvation of souls.” In short, he believed his two fold mission and purpose in life was suffering for people, and bringing them to Jesus. And soon after receiving the stigmata Irving soon learned that his suffering would not only be physical, but also mental, due to the doubts cast by certain individuals. Yet, the Blessed Mother had warned him early on:
Can you give me your age, place of birth, etc.[Asked in 1995]:
|Irving "Francis" Houle reflecting upon the Passion of Jesus|
While during his lifetime no formal investigation was been carried out by Irving’s home diocese of Marquette, throughout the years the two bishops who presided in turn over the diocese kept a careful watch over the events surrounding him.
The primary source for this article is the book “Francis”–A True Story- Family man suffers the Passion of Jesus daily” by Father Robert J. Fox, Fatima Family Apostolate, 1999.
In more recent editions, the book was renamed “A Man Called Francis” and can be purchased here and also from My Mothers House religious bookstore in Escanaba:
Mystics of the Church Gift Store here