It was a long, four-year wait for us to attend Catholic Family Ministries' 25th Annual Family Life conference. It was with much excitement that we were heading back to Lac Ste. Anne for our 22nd time.
As a family we had only missed a couple; one for a family wedding and another for Father Troy Nguyen’s ordination. Even years where we thought about not going, our kids would not allow us to miss it as it's a special time for the entire family. The conference has greatly blessed our family. It's where Sean Lynn, my husband, met Steve Wood when we attended the very first conference, which led to the origins of how God Squad began, but that’s a story for another time.
The largest family reunion ever
In 1996, a group of like-minded friends from the Edmonton area who, led and inspired by Bob LeBlanc (now deceased), decided to heed the call of Pope Saint John Paul II who, in Familiaris Consortio, plead for families to “become what you are, the domestic Church and the heart of the world.”
Joy in God’s will and healing
As part of this year’s conference, a healing service was held on Saturday night. Father Paul Moret, the spiritual director of the Family Life Ministries group and pastor of Holy Trinity parish in Spruce Grove, introduced Encounter Ministries. This Catholic organization seeks “to demonstrate the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit in their sphere of influence.” Specifically, they offered a prayer service for healing. All attendees were invited to ask for physical healing and to be prayed for by those around them.
There were many healings that night, and I experienced it first-hand. When an invitation was extended for people with shoulder issues to stand up, I decided to participate - I had nothing to lose.
I have not been able to raise my right arm past the height of my shoulder without rotating it due to calcification in the ligaments for the past 12 years or so. I must admit, I was sceptical. I was sitting next to my mom, so when people around those standing were invited to lay their hands on us, my mom had her hand on my right shoulder. I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary - no lightning bolts, no hot flash; nothing. Later, my Mom told me her hand felt hot as she prayed for me.
As soon as the group prayer was done, they invited us to test our healing. I went to try to lift my arm up, outstretched, past my shoulder, fully expecting the familiar pain that usually prevented such movement. But I was able to keep going higher and higher until I held my arm straight above my head! I looked around at the people who had just prayed for me, and shrugged my shoulders in disbelief because I didn’t know what else to do. I had actually been healed!
The day after the healing service, a wave of excitement went through the camp as people began to share their stories. A lovely lady that we knew from our parish in Calgary always had to walk and pace at the back of the church during Mass because a back injury made it too painful for her to sit and genuflect. That morning she had the biggest grin in the world. She spoke about how she was able to sit and kneel for the first time in many years.
My husband Sean, my family, and our friends were all amazed and overjoyed by my healing. As a person who had been living without gluten, dairy, many vegetables and spices that upset my system, it still feels surreal to enjoy salsa again, and rediscover how food can truly taste without causing pain! Sean loves to make savoury food, and I’m grateful he no longer has to prepare a bland and restricted version of his dishes for me. We can now enjoy meals that we prepare together.
Fast forward to August 2023, I find myself continually praising the Lord for what He has done for me. I’ve lived with a few chronic issues in my life, accepting the suffering, and making it my goal to offer these tribulations to the Lord for the sake of my salvation and others. But that night, I just felt a calling to participate and ask God for the gift of His healing.
Still I question from time to time, feeling almost guilty for this gift of healing, because, after all, God had allowed this suffering in my life and I trust in His will and felt grateful for the opportunity to offer these little things back to Him. I felt I was given these opportunities to be able to walk with Him in His passion, much as Simon was able to do when He helped Jesus carry His cross. At first I wasn’t sure if I should be sharing this with others - as the healings felt more like a personal divine gift and revelation. However, I am now certain that it’s necessary for me to share this with others, to praise God for what He has done, and to instil hope in others with assurance of God’s love.
With upcoming healing services coming up in our diocese, I encourage you to participate and ask God for what you need in your life to fulfil His will. Go and trust what God has in store for you. If He wills you to heal, you will heal when you ask for it. Trust that God gives us what we need for our salvation, whether that be strength and perseverance to bear what He has given us, or healing.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” ~Hebrews 10:23
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers