Special to the Catholic Herald
Do you believe that Jesus wants to heal people through ordinary, faithful Catholics?
“Yes!” was the resounding answer by attendees at the recent School of Healing conference at the Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church in Rhinelander. By the working of the Holy Spirit, they witnessed dozens of miraculous healings, both physical and emotional.
The School of Healing, a program of Encounter Ministries, trains attendees to partner with the Holy Spirit to bring healing to individuals around us. Encounter Ministries trains disciples to demonstrate the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Encounter Ministries has a main campus in Brighton, Michigan, 23 satellite campuses in the United States, six international locations, and an online campus with training offered in English, French, Spanish and German.
Encounter Ministries partners with local parishes to host weekend Schools of Healing.
More than 100 Catholics from throughout Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota attended the Rhinelander conference to learn how to heal others and to be healed themselves.
Fr. Chris Kemp, pastor at Nativity of Our Lord in Rhinelander, and Fr. Jerry Harris, liaison for the Superior Diocese Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office, welcomed Encounter Ministries’ Fr. Patrick Gonyeau and Fr. Jason Brooks, who led the two-day conference.
Healing is Jesus’ idea
Fr. Patrick explained that healing is Jesus’ idea. When Jesus proclaimed the Gospel, he often demonstrated God’s healing power and love by signs and wonders, including raising people from the dead, restoring sight to the blind, casting out demons, healing the sick. Jesus told his disciples, “If you believe in me, you will do the works that I do, and greater works than these because I’m going to the Father.” (John 14:12). Jesus expects us – his disciples – to minister this healing on earth today.
Fr. Patrick and Fr. Jason presented the biblical theology of healing, the role of faith, and a prayer model for attendees to use when praying with people for healing. They also explained redemptive suffering and overcoming discouragement when a healing does not occur. And finally, they discussed the power of testimony and words of knowledge for building people’s faith and healing and for evangelization.
During Jesus’ ministry on earth, healing testimonies pulled people to him. Healing testimony does the same today. It’s the heart of evangelization.
When a healing occurred at the Rhinelander conference, the priests encouraged that person to test it out. If healing is confirmed, the person claimed it by saying, “I claim this healing in the name of Jesus!” Then, the person offered praise and thanksgiving, put the healing in his or her heart, and removed all doubt. The priests said if pain starts to return, declare “In the name of Jesus, pain leave me.” The priests encouraged attendees to share their experiences with others to spread the work of God.
Fr. Patrick and Fr. Jason called attendees to a new boldness through baptism in the Holy Spirit, which empowers disciples to share the Gospel. The two priests prayed and laid hands on each attendee to impart or transfer the grace of the Holy Spirit that they had received to attendees. They recalled Numbers 11: 16-17, when the Lord said to Moses, “I will take some of the spirit which is upon you and put it upon them.”
Offering healing prayer
Attendees were called to listen for words of knowledge from God, and to adopt a passion for evangelization. “Be ready for encounters with people,” Fr. Patrick encouraged. For example, he and others go out among people, prepared to pray with them. “To start, I ask God to show me who needs prayer.” Then, he approaches a person and says, “I love God and I’m praying for people today. Do you need prayer for anything?” If the person says yes, Fr. Patrick asks if he can put a hand on the person’s shoulder. Then he silently asks the Holy Spirit for a word of knowledge about the person.
“If I get a word of knowledge, I share that with the person,” Fr. Patrick explained. For example, he may get a word of knowledge from the Holy Spirit about a recent loss. He will ask the person whether he has had a loss. If the person has, Fr. Patrick asks him to share it. Then, he will pray that the Holy Spirit will grant comfort, understanding, grace and healing.
The word of knowledge, which the priest could only know through the Holy Spirit, strengthens the person’s belief and acceptance of prayer.
Attendees shared the following testimonies and motivations for coming:
Kari Bednarczyk of Andover, Minnesota, experienced an impactful vision during the School of Healing. This summer, she attended an online program through Encounter Ministries and hungered for an in-person experience. “I was ready to be open,” she said. During the impartation, when the priests laid hands on her, she had a vision, one she has had for a couple weeks. “I see Jesus digging in my heart with a shovel, digging out dirt,” she said. But this time, she also saw Jesus holding her two babies; babies she lost in pregnancy. She felt Jesus was telling her, “See, I have them.” Kari said she thought she had dealt with the loss, but now she is truly at peace and elated by the vision.
Paula Simpson of River Falls said, “I came to the School of Healing because I was called to it by the Holy Spirit.” Earlier in her career, Paula used massage in a pool for individuals with disabilities. Clients often commented that she seemed to know exactly what they needed without any direction. She would like to use this intuition – this gift – in healing ministry. “I want more,” she affirmed.
Jim LaLonde of Park Falls was eager to attend to the School of Healing and “learn how to help Jesus heal people and even make converts of those who witness the healings.” He feels Encounter Ministries is on the cutting edge of evangelism in the Catholic Church. “Their training follows the example of Jesus and the apostles,” he said.
Mary Hebda of Rib Lake experienced a miraculous healing of a complicated pain that had been with her for more than two-and-a-half years. The problem started in 2021 when a vaccine was injected too high on her right arm, resulting in severe pain in her arm, shoulder and elbow. The pain continued and was diagnosed alternatively as a herniated disk in her neck, arthritis, torn bicep muscle, and inflamed rotator cuff. While she was being prayed over during the School of Healing, she felt a sensation like a sharp projectile coming out of her shoulder. Her prayer partner reported the projectile coming to her hand. During group prayer, Mary felt an urge to “try it out” by touching her right hand to the back of her head, a move that her occupational therapist said would be a sign of healing. Amazingly, she could do that for the first time in two-and-a-half years. Her left hand shot into the air as she claimed the healing with expectant joy. She also credits the redeeming role of Eucharist for healing the pain of a herniated disk in 2021.
Phil Laska, who lives in the Rhinelander area, said his family has experienced five miracles over the years. “I was raised in a family that believes in God,” Phil explained. “I bring the needs of others to this conference.” During the evening healing service, the priests called together the entire church to pray for Phil’s 2-year-old granddaughter, Kolby, who suffered a stroke while in the womb and is paralyzed on her right side. Phil also asked for healing of his brother’s cancer.
Diane Pierre of Rhinelander was cured of insomnia, which she had suffered for years. After being prayed over, Diane was feeling doubtful, so she prayed, “Lord, remove my doubts. Jesus, I trust you.” She slept for eight hours that night without taking the usual sleep supplements. “Truly a miracle,” she said. Diane has slept soundly ever since this healing.
Fr. Jason encouraged attendees, “You can be God’s apostle of mercy through words of knowledge and healing prayer. Step out of your comfort zone – cross the chicken line! Jesus chose a band of misfits to be his disciples. Why not you?”
He coached attendees to pray as they walk into a store: Lord, I’m available. Lead me to someone who needs prayer.
Healings happen in several ways: instantaneous healing, healing at a later time, partial healing, and progressive healing over a period of time.
Five-step healing model
The priests presented a five-step healing model summarized below.
1. Interview – Ask the person to describe their condition and pain level. Explain the prayer process.
2. Select the type of prayer – Ask Jesus how you should pray: prayer of petition, prayer of command, or prayer of a prophetic act.
3. Pray – Ask if you can put a hand on their shoulder. Invite the Holy Spirit to come, then pray in the name of Jesus.
4. Check – Ask the person if there is improvement. If not fully healed, repeat steps 2-4.
5. Post-prayer – If fully healed, claim in faith what Jesus has done and offer thanks and praise.
What if there is no healing?
Healing can be like a seed that manifests later. Persevere in prayer and understand that suffering is not meaningless when united to Jesus. Jesus may be waiting for something to occur, such as repentance or forgiveness … even forgiveness of themselves. Sometimes the healing must wait for something else to happen.
To be regularly inspired, Fr. Patrick invited attendees to listen to his free podcast, Free Mustard Seeds, which recounts testimonies of miraculous healings.
About the Encounter Ministry priests
Fr. Patrick, an associate instructor with Encounter Ministries, teaches at the main campus, as well as nationally and internationally. He is a healing evangelist and pastor at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Detroit. Fr. Jason, a Wisconsin native, recently completed a training program at Encounter Ministries. He leads a Regnum Christi healing ministry in Metro Detroit, where he also serves as a chaplain for the adult lay members of the Regnum Christi Federation. For more information about healing ministry, visit https://encounterministries.us/.