Healing Masses at Holy Family offer hope for the sick

By Jennika Baines
SUN Assoc. Editor

FAIRMOUNT — The evening Mass at Holy Family Church in Syracuse on March 4 seemed like any other Mass.

Father Richard Prior, pastor, spoke during his homily about the fear the disciples felt during a storm that tossed their boat on the wind and the waves. Frightened, they woke Jesus, who quieted the storm.

“Did they not trust him? Did they not understand who he was? Is Jesus on our journey? Is he traveling alongside us or not?” Father Prior asked. “Nothing can sink us because we have a loving God and a suffering servant who journeys by our side.”

The homily was particularly relevant for many of those who had gathered at the Mass, which included an opportunity to come forward and ask for special prayers for healing.

The healing Masses are an important part of Holy Family’s parish life. They were started by Father Amedeo Guida when he was pastor at the parish.

“One of the reasons that I felt it necessary to continue when I first came to Holy Family is that I think that there’s just a lot of need for healing,” Father Prior said.

“It’s an opportunity to gather and just experience the healing grace of Jesus,” said Father Prior. “Every Mass is a healing Mass whether you call it that or not,” he said.

But these healing Masses afford the opportunity to approach a priest or deacon to pass on a personal intention.

Father Prior said that sometimes people will come as a proxy for someone who may not be able to come on their own.

During the healing Mass at Holy Family, those gathered lined up along the aisles to speak privately with the priest or two deacons.

Father Prior put his hand on each person’s shoulder as they quietly spoke. Then he anointed them with the oil of the infirm and the parishioner returned to his or her seat.

Sometimes, those who came forward slumped to the floor after their blessing.

“Some folks maybe just are overwhelmed with God’s presence,” Father Prior said. “Some might call it being ‘slain in the Spirit.’ I don’t know if I can explain it.”

He said he often incorporates an opportunity for those who have experienced healing to tell others of their story. “God is alive and working in the world,” Father Prior said. “I’m always overwhelmed by the faith of the people.”

But on March 4, Father Prior omitted these stories to get straight to the blessings.

He said he was feeling a little under the weather himself.

The Masses are held six times a year, every other month beginning in January. They are held the first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m., but in May the Mass will be held at 7:30 p.m.

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