Healing services at Shrine ‘bringing the faithful forward in amazing ways’

Bill Blaul
Special to The Michigan Catholic

Royal Oak — Healing services that include confession, Mass, the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, Eucharistic adoration and healing teams to pray over people are attracting hundreds of lay faithful to National Shrine of the Little Flower Parish in Royal Oak. Fr. Alex Kratz, a Franciscan friar, presides over several healing services at the Shrine each year, with the most recent gathering in April involving about 200 attendees.

The National Shrine of the Little Flower is among the most historic and active parishes in the Detroit Archdiocese.

Each service includes healing teams that meet with the faithful and, when requested, pray over them or for their intentions.

“Considering three sacraments are available, these are very sacramental gatherings,” said Fr. Kratz, who resides at the Duns Scotus Franciscan Friary on the grounds of Our Lady of La Salette Parish in Berkley.

“For the seriously ill, we offer the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick during Mass,” he said. “Following Mass, we expose the Blessed Sacrament, at which time healing teams and prayer ministers fan out to pray with the faithful for physical healing or intentions, including the healing of relationships and job opportunities.

“Those who attend are thirsting for and really appreciate the personal touch available through the prayer teams. All our people are good Catholics, serious about their faith and have an expectant faith in the Lord Jesus that good things will happen,” Fr. Kratz added.

What makes a healing Mass unique?

All Masses are healing Masses through the sacrament of the Eucharist. The theme of a healing Mass and service is healing, and the Mass includes the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick for the seriously ill. Trained people pray for individual needs. Examples of prayer include physical, spiritual or emotional healing, a relationship problem, an economic issue, or help to forgive.Healing is according to God’s will. The celebrant and the prayer teams provide a prayerful, spiritual environment.

What happens after the Mass?

Prayer teams and prayer ministers are in the worship space. The teams and ministers ask for a first name and prayer request. All prayer requests are confidential. Individuals may also ask for intercessory prayers.

Does healing occur?

Many of those prayed for receive a gift of peace. When, if, or how healing occurs is up to God. He will heal, if and when it is His will, if and when He is ready. Healing resulting from participation in the services can be of an emotional nature, or can be through obtaining more grace to deal with the problem. Only God knows what form the healing may take.

Confession is offered before Mass, and music enhances the spiritual atmosphere.

“When you put this all together in a beautiful setting like the Shrine, it makes for a very special evening,” Fr. Kratz said.

The intention is to continue the healing work Jesus began, Fr. Kratz explained.

“The Gospels say Jesus was always doing three things: teaching, preaching and healing” (Mt. 9:35), he continued. “These three go together, because even if people are healed, there is the daily need of ongoing growth in discipleship, which requires teaching and the preaching Jesus modeled for us.

Fr. Kratz said in general, today’s Catholics don’t pay enough heed to Jesus’ earthly ministry.

“Not only did Jesus model that for us, especially us priests, but people who may not come to church for anything else, will come to church to be healed,” he said. “To experience the power and love of Jesus in the Holy Spirit is one of the most effective forms of evangelization — and it is easy to do.”

Judy Maten, associate director of the archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, experienced one of the Shrine’s healing Masses in January, an experience she called “phenomenal.”

“You could feel the Holy Spirit, and the people coming forward for healing and prayer was very moving. In evangelization, a core component to bringing people back to the Church is healing, and these Masses are bringing people forward in amazing ways. It is helping to draw people back to the faith,” said Maten, a Shrine parishioner who also works with Fr. Kratz, who is an evangelization coordinator for the archdiocese.

Fr. Kratz and his team of 21 prayer ministers conduct five or six healing services and Masses annually at the National Shrine of the Little Flower, with the next gathering set for July 9. Confession will start at 6:30 p.m. with Mass immediately afterward at 7 p.m.

Other parishes in Metro Detroit that have offered healing Masses and services include Immaculate Conception in Ira Township, St. Vincent Ferrer in Madison Heights, and St. Athanasius in Roseville.

Beyond the healing ministry and his work in evangelization, Fr. Kratz also leads Terra Sancta Pilgrimages, a nonprofit pilgrimage ministry to the Holy Land.