MARIST Father John Rea is a man who leaves a trail of miracle healings in his tracks.
The long list includes a woman whose cancer disappeared, a child violinist whose crushed hand was cured, a teenager whose paralysis and loss of speech was reversed, and a couple whose infertility was broken.
Bardon parish in Brisbane is the latest waiting to count the blessings of Fr Rea’s healing ministry.
He has completed a week-long stay at Bardon during which he conducted a parish mission and prayed with people each day for healing.
Fr Rea is quick to stress that he is not the one responsible for the healings.
‘I just pray with people for healing ‘ the rest is up to the Lord,’ he said.
‘As long as He gets the glory …
‘I used to think I was a channel. Now I think I’m a catalyst ‘ an excuse to bring people together for prayer for healing.’
Following publicity about healings in New Zealand, where he lives, England and Australia, Fr Rea has been in demand internationally.
He said the same happened in Jesus’ day.
‘People crowded to him because they wanted to be healed ‘ the same still happens.
‘Two people travelled an hour to come to Mass (from Southport to Bardon). They came mainly for prayer for healing.’
They had faith in a healing that many others had experienced ‘ like the New Zealand woman with cervical cancer.
It was her young son’s faith that led her to Fr Rea.
The son came home from Sunday school telling his mother he wanted to go to one of Fr Rea’s services. Not having a strong faith, the woman was reluctant and needed some persuading.
Fr Rea said the boy, whose mother had just found out she had cervical cancer and that it was probably terminal, reminded her the orthodontist had told them it would cost $4000 for braces for his teeth.
‘(The boy) told her Jesus would straighten his teeth and she would not have to spend the money,’ Fr Rea said.
The boy eventually won out, and Fr Rea did pray with him.
When the boy had gone off for supper, leaving the woman behind, Fr Rea asked her if there was anything he could pray with her about and she told him of the cancer and agreed to prayer.
Soon after she had investigative surgery and x-rays, and then began planning a holiday with her husband so she could say goodbye to her three adult children before she died.
She then received a phone call from her specialist with the news that her latest x-rays showed no sign of cancer.
‘She went off on a joyous holiday instead of one of great sadness,’ Fr Rea said.
Two months later, the orthodontist also had good news in his x-rays which showed the boy’s teeth were growing down straight and braces would not be necessary.
The woman later gave testimony at one of Fr Rea’s gatherings.
Fr Rea, who has been praying with people for healing since 1974, said the one constant in cases where people had been healed was that someone must have faith ‘ whether it was the faith of the person being healed; the faith of a parent, loved one or friend, or the one praying for healing.
‘All I do is pray ‘ sometimes people get better, sometimes they don’t.’
Among the people who have been disappointed, one case in particular comes to Fr Rea’s mind, and that is a couple whose son and daughter-in-law have been trying for a long time to have children and it has not happened.
Fr Rea continues to pray for them.
‘I have a list of people I pray for every day. I pray for them by name.’
Another couple whose frustrations with infertility ended after prayer with Fr Rea, are among those who have testified to his healing ministry on New Zealand television.
After years of trying every other option in desperation to have a child, the couple came to Fr Rea one Ash Wednesday.
As he does from time to time, he nominated a deadline, informing the couple that by Easter they would be expecting a child.
The woman found out on Easter Saturday that she was pregnant, the baby was born by Christmas and they have had two children since.
Another of the more notable healings involved a 10 year-old violinist whose left hand was crushed in a bus door.
Her hand was so severely damaged that doctors told her she would be unable to play the violin again, devastating news for the devoted musician.
Two days after Fr Rea and a friend prayed with the girl, specialists told her they could find no damage to the hand and no scar tissue.
The hand had fully recovered and she could play again.
A television reporter once put it to Fr Rea that sceptics would say that he is someone who has ‘just got lucky’ with healings from prayer.
‘When it happens so frequently, you can hardly call it luck,’ was his reply.
Fr Rea is no longer surprised by healings.
‘Not so much surprised ‘ I get filled with joy that the Lord is working in their lives.
‘I’m always pleased to hear of healings because it’s something new to tell people.’
Fr Rea said the Lord seemed to use him mainly in physical healings, with people coming with all kinds of conditions.
‘I have more prayers for fertility than anything else, probably because of the TV program which featured the couple (who were healed). Cancer is probably the next.
‘Another area where the Lord has used me a lot is with kids with learning difficulties.’
Fr Rea has no set formula for his prayers.
‘They are always short and simple ‘ and spontaneous.’
The Catholic Leader would like to hear from anyone who has experienced a healing through praying with Fr Rea during his visit to Bardon parish. Write to: The Catholic Leader, GPO Box 282, Brisbane, Qld, 4001, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (07) 3224 3380.