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 | By Jenny Cromie

Jesus is inviting you

Evenings of Healing draw faithful throughout Diocese for healing and an encounter with Jesus

The late afternoon sun filtered softly through the stained-glass windows in the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw. In reverent silence, people began filing into the church, genuflecting in front of the altar before finding a seat in one of the pews.

Some arrived early to go to Confession—the first part of the Evening of Healing—and then waited for the Mass to begin. It was the last Evening of Healing for 2023—part of a series of healing services held on the last Friday of each month since May. As the church bells rang out to call the faithful to Mass, soft acoustic guitar music began filling the sanctuary. The people sang, “Great Are You, Lord,” and Mass began. In the beginning of his homily, Bishop Robert Gruss, addressed the crowd gathered in the pews.

“What do you want to place on this altar tonight to be united and offered with the sacrifice of Jesus to the Father? What is your desire from Jesus tonight?” Bishop Gruss asked them. “Expect a miracle. Expect healing in whatever way Jesus wants to give it to you. He is here tonight. He is alive. He is present.”

The heart of priestly ministry

The Evening of Healing on Oct. 27 was similar to the previous five, with the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, Mass and Eucharistic adoration accompanied by small teams praying over those who desire it. The healing services, which will continue in 2024, have drawn up to 150 people each time from the Diocese of Saginaw and others throughout the state.

“I would love to see something like this in every parish,” said Bishop Robert Gruss in an interview before the healing service. “The healing ministry is the heart of priestly ministry … It should be the heart of priestly ministry, because healing is what Jesus did.”

Jesus, the Divine Physician, is “fully present at these healing services,” Bishop Gruss said, “and he is fully present in the Eucharist. … I just encourage people to come for the healing love of Jesus. It will profoundly impact their spiritual life, I believe.”

Even those who feel they are not in need of healing are invited to attend the services for healing prayer, Bishop Gruss said. Any time people come to Mass to adore the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist is time well-spent.

“[Healing prayer] has been a part of my priesthood for a long time,” Bishop Gruss remarked, explaining that he also was involved in healing prayer and deliverance ministry when he was a priest in Davenport, Iowa. 

Bishop Gruss said he felt called to begin the Evenings of Healing after several conversations with people who were interested in having a healing ministry in the diocese. 

“God shows up.”

Father Adam Maher believes there is something in everyone that needs healing.

“And Jesus is the only one who can heal physically, emotionally and spiritually,” he said. “I think every person will encounter a measure of healing. The Lord never once walked past someone who was sick. Every person who came to Christ and asked to be healed was healed.”

The Evenings of Healing begin with the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation because it is a healing sacrament, Father Adam explained. In the Gospel of Mark, a group of men—unable to reach Jesus through the crowds—lowered their paralytic friend through a roof so Jesus could heal him (Mark 2:1-12).

Jesus first forgives the paralytic man’s sins, “and then he heals his legs,” Father Adam said. “Sin can be a barrier to the blessing God wants to give you.” 

Even if someone has not been to confession in a long time, people are encouraged to participate in that part of the healing service too, Father Adam said. Every priest is trained to help people make a good confession, and if someone has not been for a long time, all they need to do is let the priest know and the priest will walk them through the sacrament.

The evening continues with Mass and Eucharistic adoration, allowing the love of God to be “released in an atmosphere of faith.”

“What we’re doing [at the healing services] is facilitating an encounter for people,” Father Adam said. “And then the rest is on God. God shows up.”

Miracles still happen

The healing service itself begins at the close of Mass with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Bishop Gruss processes with the monstrance throughout the cathedral, stopping before parishioners so that they can ask Jesus, fully present in the Sacred Host, for healing. 

During Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the healing service continues—usually led by Father Adam—with the opportunity for individuals to be prayed over for specific healing by volunteer prayer team members made up of priests, deacons and lay faithful.

“It’s not about any individuals—it’s about Jesus,” Father Adam said. “When you meet Him, miracles happen. It’s still happening today.”

Bishop Gruss, Father Adam and members of the prayer team said there are forms people can fill out after the healing service to document their experience of healing.

And there have been reports of healing.

Hands, feet and bones have been restored, Father Adam said. Some healings have happened in an instant, prayer team members said. For others, the healing has been more of a process.

One woman was so overcome with Christ’s presence during the Eucharistic procession at one of the healing services that she felt overwhelming, life-changing love from the Lord. She now serves as one of the volunteer prayer team members.

Some people who have suffered from chronic pain and have been unable to move body parts for years have reported healing, Bishop Gruss said. Others experience more of an interior healing—they walk in feeling full of anxiety and leave with a peaceful heart.

The experiences as a prayer team member have been powerful, said Krista Willertz of St. Brigid of Kildare Parish in Midland, adding that she is most drawn to the inner healing that takes place in hearts.

“For me to watch God work, it’s just the best thing this side of Heaven,” she said. “It’s a beautiful encounter with Jesus every single time.”

Come with expectations

In 2024, there will be quarterly opportunities for the faithful to experience the Evenings of Healing.

“If someone is curious, they should come … come with expectations that the Lord will do big things. He is always doing more and beyond what we would expect,” said Erin Looby Carlson, a prayer team member and parishioner at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption. “The Lord will never be outdone in generosity.”

Because the Evenings of Healing typically last from 5 p.m. until 9:30 or 10 p.m., there is the understanding that not everyone can remain for the full length of time, and people are free to leave when they need to, Bishop Gruss said.

Bishop Gruss, Father Adam and the prayer team members invite everyone to experience the Evenings of Healing and their transformative power on one’s spiritual life. Everyone has a need for healing, whether they realize it or not. 

As Krista said, “There’s something in all of us that could use God’s mercy and deliverance.”


Evenings of Healing

All are welcome



April 26 | July 26 | Oct. 11

Format of the evening:

5 p.m. Sacrament of Penance (Confession)

6:30 p.m. Mass

7:30 p.m. Eucharistic Adoration and Healing Service