The first in a series of evening services of prayer for peace and healing took place at the Annunciation Catholic Church, Chesterfield on Friday 15 April. As with any new venture in an established parish, until the waters are tested, it is hard to gauge how people will respond. Much prayerful thought and preparation had been given to the event, but no one could have fully anticipated the groundswell of faith, love and hope that materialised on this first evening.
The service began with a recitation of the Rosary, during which those present were invited to make their confession with one of the four priests officiating. This was followed by Mass, which was celebrated by Parish Priest, Fr Mark McManus. His homily included reference to the Conversion of Saul described in Acts 9:1-20 and its testament to the living reality of healing and peace.
The lights were dimmed after Mass for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, with candlelight and liturgical music adding to the profound sense of peace, worship and reverence. Fr Lee led prayers for healing and spoke about the healing power of Jesus in the Eucharist in all manner of wounds. An extract from Psalm 103 was read out: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Quoting from Mark 5:21-43 – the story of the woman with haemorrhages who touched the fringe of Jesus’ clothes and was cured – Fr Lee invited those present to kneel or stand at the altar as Fr Kieran, wearing the humeral veil over his vestments and holding up the Monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament, moved amongst them so that they could touch the garment and pray for healing.
This part of the service was incredibly powerful, with many healing tears flowing. Just as the woman in the story ignored the conventions of the day for the chance to touch Jesus, so the multitude of people in the church that evening overcame the self-conscious reserve so prevalent in our modern society, to exercise real faith in the healing power of the Lord.
“The new prayer programme is a response to Pope Francis’ gift of this Year of Mercy in which we are all invited to reach out, touch and experience the mercy and healing of Jesus in a very personal and powerful way,” said Fr Lee, “and also the message of Our Lady of Medjugorje, calling for individual conversion through Prayer with the heart (Rosary), the Eucharist, the Holy Bible, fasting and monthly confessions. We are hoping to reach out to as many people as possible within our Parish and Diocese.”