Dozens Of The Faithful Flock To Church Healing Service

They Ask God To Help Them Attain Physical, Emotional, Spiritual Health

January 15, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff writer

ELDERSBURG — In Wednesday's Page 13 story, "Dozens of the faithful flock to church healing service," the photo caption should have stated that the service took place at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Eldersburg.

ELDERSBURG -- With a trio singing hymns softly in the background, worshipers exchanged brief smiles and stories as they waited to meet with healers.

"People pray and take time to think while they wait in line," said Ed Russo, an usher who helped guide the hopeful to one of four two-member healing teams positioned near the main altar. "Nobody minds waiting."

Some 80 people filled front pews and lined the aisles of St. Joseph's Church after Sunday's last Mass, waiting as long as an hour for prayerful support and to ask God's help with physical, emotional and spiritual problems.

"Tell us your prayer need, in strictestconfidence," said Carroll S. Rankin, director of the church's healing ministry, which includes seven lay members of the parish and its pastor, Father Theodore K. Cassidy. "Then we will ask Jesus to fix it up."

One by one, participants sat and prayed with a team. Members often gently patted petitioners on the back.

Tears streamed down one woman's face as she approached two ministers. They held her hands firmly within theirs and listened intently.

Still clasping her hands, the healers closed their eyes and prayed for and with her, intoning her name over and over, asking God to cure her illness and to help her find inner peace.

Before she left, the ministers embraced her and promised to continue praying in her behalf.

Her tears continued to fall as she walked away, but she said she received solace.

"This is the first time I have been out since having surgery three weeks ago," said the woman, who asked that she not be identified. "I havejust been diagnosed with cancer, and I came here for help."

The distraught woman said she had seen a notice about the healing service in The Catholic Review.

"Last month, I was completely healthy. NowI have cancer," she said. "I needed help to deal with the shock. Their prayers already have been a real help."

Mary Wilhide said she always asks for inner peace at the service, which St. Joseph's conducts about six times a year.

"I have a stressful job," said the Eldersburg resident. "I pray for whatever I need to do that job well."

"People tell us their petition, and we pray with them," said Rankin. "They don't always get healed, but they come away feeling loved."

Like Wilhide, many petitioners return time after time to ask God's help.

"I have had health problems, and I recently lost my husband," said Sandy Simmons of Eldersburg. "Coming here helps, if you put yourheart in your beliefs."

Theresa Fisher, another parishioner here and regular participant in the healings, brings a different petition each time.

"It depends on what's going on with my life," she said."Sometimes I ask for wisdom, sometimes the ability to cope."

The service is not limited to parishioners or Catholics. All faiths are welcome. Rankin said the next service in March will be with Wesley Freedom United Methodist, a neighboring congregation.

One woman, who saw a notice on Wesley Freedom's bulletin, said she came to ask for prayers for a friend's child.

"I felt comforted by the oil and laying on of hands," she said.

At the beginning of the ceremony, Cassidy blessed oil, which was placed on the foreheads of participants.

"May the oil be the means to have God's grace come into our bodies and spirits, and may we feel the presence of God through its soothing quality," he said.

He then told the congregation to ask boldly forGod's help, reminding them that when Christ was on Earth, he cured those who asked and who trusted him to heal them.

"Be disposable, be open to what God wants to do through us," he said. "Let us pour outourselves in honesty and we can be healed."

Rankin said the ministry also encourages people to consult their doctors and to persevere in prayer.

"Help us understand how to cooperate with doctors and our bodies," Cassidy prayed. "Help us to be open in our relationships with others and to do our part to love and be loved."

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