Weekly Letter (Sep 21 ’15)

Dear Parents and Students,

Toward the end of last year (June 8, 2015 specifically), Father Vito wrote the “Principal’s Weekly Letter.” It was impressive for many reasons. Father Vito’s commitment to being present to our community was the most wonderful news in that letter but I was also very impressed by the number of and diversity of ministries that Father Vito and his colleagues at the Contemplatives of Saint Joseph are involved with. I won’t presume to have a clear understanding of the many responsibilities of the Contemplatives, but I would like to share with you my experiences with “healing Masses.”

In the late 1970s and early 1980s I attended healing Masses on a regular basis. In those days, the Masses were held at Saint Kevin’s Church and the celebrant was usually Father Richard Bain (ironically a Star graduate). There are two parts to a “healing Mass” and one is easy to explain. It is a typical Catholic Mass with the readings of the day. The homily, though it may mention healing, is still related to those readings. If you attend a healing Mass you will notice nothing out of the ordinary during the Mass.

The second part of a “healing Mass” is a bit more difficult to explain. After Mass is concluded members of the congregation are invited to come forward and have the priest pray over them. At times the priest may know exactly why someone has come for “healing” and at other times he will not have a clue. It would be a mistake for the priest or anybody to assume they know why a person comes for “healing.” That woman in the wheelchair may be there to pray that she might walk again, but she is just as likely there to ask God to watch over her son in the military. The elderly man slowly hobbling up the aisle, may be there to pray for relief from his cancer, but he might be there to pray for the grace to make peace with his estranged daughter before he passes away.

In my own experience I met an older woman who had lost her eyesight and tried every possible medical procedure to regain it, to no avail. After several months attending “healing Masses” her sight was restored. I met a young woman who prayed for health, but instead was given the grace to live each day of her life with enthusiasm, hope and joy. Her death came too soon, but her life was never negatively affected by her illness. A man who came to those “healing Masses” to pray for his wife’s health was instead given the support and love of family, friends, and Church members who helped him through the dark days after his wife passed away.

Father Vito will be celebrating a “healing Mass” on Friday, October 2, 7:00 pm at Mater Dolorosa Church in South San Francisco. All are invited, but if you do attend, please come with an open mind and open heart about what “healing” means. God’s gifts to us are so great that we sometimes lose heart when a gift seems to be lost. Come to pray for a “healing” while having the humility to know that there are many ways God can offer us “healing.” Come to pray not just for yourself, but for those sitting in the Church with you.

Faith is a difficult concept for many of us. In my own life I often tell people that I am not a man of faith, but I am a man of hope. However, it is inevitable that hope becomes either despair or faith, and how can anyone despair when surrounded by so many loving people?



Terrence Hanley


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