God offers mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation to all who suffer, archbishop says

| Susan Klemond for The Catholic Spirit | September 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

At first healing Mass, archbishop calls on faithful to bring others to oneness

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Expressing regret for people who have suffered, Archbishop John Nienstedt emphasized the healing of the Eucharist and the need to receive the Lord’s mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation during a special Mass Sept. 22 at St. Patrick in Inver Grove Heights.

“It’s my conviction that it’s through the Eucharist, the celebration of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, where healing takes place,” he said at the Mass of Healing, Reconciliation and Hope for those wounded in clergy sexual abuse, the loss of a loved one, domestic abuse, divorce, abortion and other trauma.

The Mass, attended by about 75, is the first of several healing liturgies that will take place in parishes around the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in coming months, said Father John Paul Erickson, the archdiocese’s director of worship. The next service is slated for 7 p.m. on Oct. 7 at St. John the Baptist in New Brighton. Upcoming healing liturgies, which may be prayer services, adoration holy hours or Masses, will be announced.

In his homily, the archbishop spoke of the love and forgiveness of the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son.

“It seems to me that Jesus is trying to tell us that God the Father is full of mercy and forgiveness and reconciliation,” the archbishop said.

We in turn are called to bring others to oneness through mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation, he continued.

Speaking specifically to people wounded by clergy sexual abuse, Archbishop Nienstedt said, “For all those who have been victimized and for all those who are not heard when they try to tell people in the Church of that victimization, I want to say I’m sorry.”

Citing Pope Francis, the archbishop said that for someone representing God to take advantage of another in this way is sacrilegious. “There’s no place in the Church for this,” he said.

He added, “I want to offer this healing Mass for those who in any way feel wounded — wounded by broken relationships, wounded by divorce and abortion, wounded by domestic violence, wounded by prejudice or racism, wounded by neglect or anyone else. To all those, I also say I’m so sorry.”

The archbishop encouraged all who’ve suffered to pray that they will receive God’s mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation so that they can become instruments of these gifts to others.

“Brothers and sisters, my prayer tonight is that we can encourage one another and adore God and look into one another’s eyes and see the grace of reconciliation,” he said.

Masses of Healing, Reconciliation and Hope

  • 7 p.m. Oct. 7 at St. John the Baptist in New Brighton
  • 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at Divine Mercy in Faribault

Following the Mass, attendees had the opportunity to pray or speak privately with clergy or pastoral care lay staff, and obtain information on a variety of healing resources.

Inviting those wounded by many forms of abuse to the liturgies is an acknowledgment that we all need Jesus’ healing, Father Erickson said, adding that he hopes parishes will be involved in planning future liturgies.

Dawn McGibbon said she came to the Mass to seek healing from verbal abuse and rejection, as well as for division in her family.

“I really thought it was good,” said McGibbon, who is not a member of a parish. She said the Mass inspired her “to pray for people — my mother, sister — pray for my own children and tell others about the Mass.”

Steve Kroyer of St. Patrick said the fact that the archbishop came to the parish in a simple, informal way made him feel more connected.

The Mass gave Doris Kroyer, also of St. Patrick, the chance to reflect on others’ pain.

“It lets you know, even though it was a small group of people [at the Mass], there are still a lot who are hurting out there.”

Referring to the first reading of the Mass, she said, “We are all ambassadors. . . . Our job is to invite others” to the Masses.

Joan Latvala of St. Agnes in St. Paul said she hopes the Masses continue.

“We came to pray for the Church,” she said. “We love the archbishop and want to support him.”

For all those attending regardless of their background, Archbishop Nienstedt offered a prayer of healing during the Mass: “Lord, hear the prayers of your broken people. Heal us, save us, give us hope.”


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