Spruce Grove is seeing a revival of faith, inspired by a ministry of physical healing.
Holy Trinity Catholic Church has been hosting healing services on the first Saturday of each month, since March 2022. The services are hosted by Encounter Ministries. The goal of these services is to gather people together to worship God and to pray that God will heal people of their physical ailments.
And people are reporting miracles.
Barbara Baynton was diagnosed with two large kidney stones after experiencing sharp pain. She had some pain relief after several people prayed over her at the Holy Trinity healing service. A few days later, the change was even more remarkable.
“My doctor called and asked me ‘How’s the pain?” I said ‘Gone.’ ‘‘Did you have any excruciating pain and bleeding?’ my doctor asked. Obviously my doctor assumed that I had physically passed the kidney stones. I said no. No, not at all. I hadn’t passed anything,” Barbara recalled.
“Well my CT scan showed that my kidney stones are gone. And I never passed them. They were just gone. So I firmly believe in this miracle – praise the Lord!”
We had the chance to attend the healing service at Holy Trinity Church on March 4.
The March 4 service began with Mass followed by a brief time of worship music. Father Paul Moret, pastor for Holy Trinity, preached about the obstacles that inhibit us from being healed by God and the spiritual power of forgiveness. Father Moret gave the congregation an opportunity to forgive anyone who they had not forgiven yet.
The service focuses on asking God for miraculous healing of particular ailments. As a sign of prayer and faith, members of the Encounter Ministry team facilitate time for people to lay hands on the individuals who need healing.
At the March 4 service, more than a dozen people professed that they were fully or partially healed from arthritis, a painful back injury, chronic fatigue, and various other ailments. Afterwards, those that reported healing were given the opportunity to testify to what they had experienced.
“In the Church, we always approach the supernatural, or claims to some sort of supernatural healing. . . in a skeptical way,” said Father Moret. “But in reality there are lots of (healings) that you can’t just dismiss… especially where there’s an actual physiological change in the person.”
Father Moret recommends that anyone who believes that they’ve received a healing should have it verified. In many situations, there is no medical explanation.
“We know that there are going to be a certain number of healings that are a product of suggestion, of mind over matter, but they can’t all be dismissed in that way.”
Encounter Ministries has dozens of campuses worldwide, with tens of thousands of people completing their training, attending their conferences and encountering God through the proclamation of the Gospel.
This fall, Encounter Ministries will formally open a campus in Spruce Grove, where people can register for their two-year ministry training program.
“We’re answering the Lord’s prayer, for more laborer’s in the harvest,” said William Smiley, the local Encounter Ministries director, along with his wife Carla. “He told us to pray for that, so that’s what we’re doing. We are preparing and equipping people to be a part of that harvest of souls.
“When healing breaks into a person’s life, God is touching them, the kingdom of heaven is drawn near, and God becomes real for them.”
Miraculous healings are particularly powerful in our present culture, according to Dr. Mary Healy, the theological curriculum advisor for Encounter Ministries.
“We are in a culture where we are surrounded by the walking wounded. We are surrounded by people who desperately need the touch of the Lord, either physically or emotionally or spiritually,” she said in a documentary about Encounter Ministries. “We cannot proclaim the Gospel to them in words alone. They need to experience the healing power and the love of the Lord through our faith.”
Joseph Rivet, an 18-year-old high school student, says he was healed from asthma while attending a service at Holy Trinity Parish in April 2022. He has had asthma since early childhood.
Rivet would often have asthma attacks, and hours of continuous coughing if he exerted himself too much. Occasionally, he would even have asthma attacks while sleeping. Twice a day he used an inhaler, with an additional inhaler to mitigate asthma attacks.
Joseph describes what happened at the healing service.
“They laid their hands on me a second time. It was like. . . my airways became clear. My lungs just became totally full, and every breath I took was twice the size of the last one. I felt this overwhelming peace and tranquility. I just kept breathing so deeply, and I couldn’t stop.
“I thought, ‘OK well I’m going to go see if my asthma is actually gone. So I ran outside of the church, and I ran around Holy Trinity three times. And each time I ran around, I would run longer and faster. Before, my throat would get really itchy and scratchy and I would start coughing but none of that showed up. I was breathing totally normally.
“I haven’t used an inhaler since that day.”
Joseph is in the process of confirming with medical specialists that he is asthma free. He also shared how it changed his relationship with Christ and impacted his prayer life.
“I have this undying trust in the Lord since he’s shown me such mercy, and he’s healed me in such a way that it changed my life. . . . I just want to carry him with me, so that when people see that I’ve been healed, they feel that they can be healed too.”
Father Moret believes that the Catholic Church needs a revival of a more charismatic approach to evangelization, where tangible manifestations of God’s presence and power are actively sought out.
“Right now we are facing a greater challenge than they faced in the early church, because in the early Church they were going out into a world that still had some religious center. The early Christians were trying to move people from belief in false gods, to believe in the true God.
“Now, we are going out into a world that has entirely rejected the idea of any God, true or false. And so we need even more signs to show people that the Gospel is true. . . And people aren’t convinced by arguments. They’re not convinced by discussion. Oftentimes, what they need is some sign that God will give to them to show them that, that this is real.”
Father Moret said the healings come from God, not from any particular person or group.
“This is a very old reality in the Church, this prayer for healing. It was right there in the origins, when the disciples went out, that God was with them, and God confirmed their message by the signs that accompanied them. There were all sorts of healings, if you look at the ministry of St. Peter, the ministry of St. Paul.”
Judy Bouffard has been a resident of Spruce Grove for 35 years, a lifelong Catholic and an enthusiastic volunteer at the Holy Trinity healing services. She shared about why she believes this ministry of healing is essential right now.
“Our society is acting like God’s dead. No. God is not dead. He’s moving. He healed then, and he is healing now.”
The next healing service will be happening on Saturday, April 1, at Holy Trinity Parish at 6:30pm in Spruce Grove.
Learn more about the launch of the Edmonton campus of Encounter School of Ministry: encounterschool.org/edmonton/
Jenny Connelly – Archdiocese of Edmonton