SIMPSONVILLE — “There’s a healer in town tonight, and it’s not me. It’s Jesus.” With those words, Father Larry J. Hess began a night of healing and reconciliation at St. Mary Magdalene on Aug. 2.
In a powerful homily, the pastor from the Diocese of Allentown spoke of his own miraculous reprieve from a heart attack after receiving the sacrament of the anointing of the sick 10 years ago. He used many scriptural references to substantiate his claim that the main public ministry of Jesus was healing.
Healing was the explanation for the early church blossoming from such small beginnings, Father Hess said.
“Jesus identified his ministry with healing and the main reason for the huge growth of Christianity in the first three centuries was that pagans were impressed that the disciples were healing people. The first persecution of the church was over a healing in the name of Jesus,” the Pennsylvania priest said.
He was once asked derisively, he said, if he was “one of those” healers. His response was, “What else should I be, as a priest, if Jesus was a healer?”
The homilist encouraged the large crowd to seek healing prayer and to think of the Eucharist as a healing instrument.
“This is a call for us to pray for healing,” Father Hess said. “Let go to Jesus. He will touch you tonight.”
Following a liturgy celebrated by Jesuit Father Bert Conner, pastor of Mary Magdalene Church, confessions, anointing of the sick and a healing service involving the laying on of hands were all carried on during an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
Father Hess is the son of Mary G. Hess, a member of Our Lady of the Rosary Church, and the brother of Kathy Hess, also of the parish. According to his mother, the priest is a native of Reading, Pa., and is pastor of a parish with two churches in the Allentown diocese.
“He’s noted for his preaching,” Kathy Hess said of her 54-year-old brother. “He does healing services throughout the diocese, is in great demand for missions and retreats and is the liaison with the charismatic movement up there. He is so busy.”
He was busy again on Aug 2, as hundreds lined up to be touched with sacramental oil and God’s hand.