Testing Her Faith: Woman loses childhood home after taking care of sister in coma

(WSVN) - A South Florida family that made headlines in the ’70s and ’80s for their religious faith and sacrifice is facing yet another challenge tonight. As the Nightteam’s Gina Benitez tells us, the last surviving member is about to lose the family home, testing her faith like never before.

Colleen O’Bara, losing home: “So many memories.”

These could be the last days Colleen O’Bara will spend in her childhood home.

Colleen O’Bara: “All the people who have come…”

The family that lived here were known for their suffering and their faith.

The O’Bara family made headlines in 1970 after Colleen’s 16-year-old sister Edwarda fell into a diabetic coma. Their mother Kaye gave her ’round the clock care.

Kaye claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary in a halo of light next to Edwarda’s bed. That inspired thousands of believers to come to the house, some even claiming to be healed after praying at Edwarda’s bedside.

Kaye O’Bara, Edwarda’s mom: “She’s the instrument. She’s not the healer. The healer is up there.”

Edwarda’s story was heard across the country.

Celebrities visited, a book was written, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton even sent a letter of encouragement from the White House.

Colleen O’Bara: “It was all so uplifting.”

When Kaye O’Bara died in 2008, Colleen quit her job and took over Edwarda’s care, but the financial burden was more than she could afford.

Colleen O’Bara: “I did not know how far in debt my mother was.”

People sent contributions through Edwarda’s website, but it wasn’t enough.

Colleen O’Bara: “I used credit cards, cash advances and everything to get the things that Edwarda needed.”

The house was paid for, so to get money for expenses, Colleen took out a balloon mortgage, which allowed her to only make interest payments on the loan.

Colleen O’Bara: “Ten years later, the whole balance came due. I didn’t have $125,000.”

Colleen continued taking care of her sister until Edwarda passed away in 2012. She had been in a coma for 42 years.

Colleen O’Bara: “Even if this could all go away, I still wouldn’t change when I took care of my sister because that was the greatest gift I could have gotten.”

An investor paid off the mortgage on the house late last year, and Colleen was allowed to stay there for an additional six months. She’s supposed to be out of the house by April 4.

Colleen O’Bara: “I don’t have money to move. I don’t have any place to go.”

Now, she spends her time looking for apartments and tries to believe things will work out for the best.

Colleen O’Bara: “I just pray so much. I just trust He has a plan for me. I don’t know what it is. I sure wish He’d tell me, but I just gotta believe.”

Letting go of the family home is one of the hardest things she has ever done, but Colleen says for her, it’s just one more test of faith.

Since we spoke to her, Colleen did find an apartment in North Miami-Dade County. She’s expected to be out of the house on Thursday.

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