Fr. Bob Thorn of Monico and Fr. Shaji Pazhukkathara, pastor for the Park Falls cluster, led healing prayer over individuals requesting it during Jesus Fest ’23 near Butternut. Musical accompaniment was provided by the band “i.a.m.” and a vocal soloist. (Submitted photo)

On Sunday, Aug. 13, the 2023 Jesus Fest was held at a private lakeside property near Butternut. The event, sponsored by St. Anthony Church’s charismatic prayer group, was dedicated to the Assumption of the Mother of God.

Jesus Fest’s purpose to lift Jesus up high so people are drawn to him, finding their way to heaven. Organizer Jim Lalonde said, “At Jesus Fest ’23, the Spirit truly did fall and people’s lives will forever be changed to love the Lord and those around them more deeply.”

The history of Jesus Fest goes back to 2019, when the charismatic prayer group at St. Anthony’s in Park Falls invited their parish to a gathering with one guitarist. With no larger gathering during 2020, the numbers for the 2021 gathering increased from 25 the first year to 40 people with two guitarists.

Last year’s fest saw another jump in participation, due to inviting other diocesan prayer groups beyond the Park Falls cluster and the addition of a band. Fifty-five were in attendance. For 2023, the invitation was again extended and included a concerted effort to include the cluster to their north and some local non-Catholics. Of the 70 who attended the Aug. 13 gathering, some non-Catholics even asked to be prayed over.

For 2024, the date has been set for Sept. 8, the feast of the birth of Mary.