Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 6, 2009
Healing a spirit can trigger physical recovery
Indian priest famed for his retreats in his homeland brings his message of repentance and healing to Canada.
Fr. Augustine Vallooran
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON – Any sort of problem, whether physical or emotional, may well be rooted in a deeper spiritual problem, said Father Augustine Vallooran.
The head of the world’s largest retreat centre in India, Vallooran has been leading Lenten retreats across Canada this month. Healing has been an emphasis of the retreats.
Repentance is the first step towards healing and ridding oneself of any problem, he said. “All of the problems of man and woman, the solution is turning to God, finding the meaning of life in God.”
He led a two-day retreat in Edmonton from March 25 to 26, at St. Theresa’s Parish, attended by about 400 people, and also celebrated a healing event at Mass at St. Andrew’s Church.
PREACHING BECAME HEALING
Vallooran runs Divine Retreat Centre in India. The centre started out as a preaching ministry, but evolved into much more.
It has become a refuge for widows and abused or abandoned wives. It serves as a recovering centre for drug addicts and alcoholics, welcoming about 150 people weekly. The centre is also home for nearly 450 mentally ill patients rejected by their families. Another 85 adults and 15 children with AIDS are patients there.
“The sick are healed. Those living in sin convert to the Lord,” he told the parishioners at St. Andrew’s Church on March 26.
No other institution anywhere in the world remotely resembles the Divine Retreat Centre, he said. More than 10 million pilgrims from all over the world have thronged to retreats there since 1990.
The centre provides ample space for retreats held in seven languages, including English, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Teluga and Konkani.
“We have an average of 6,000 people attending retreats every week. The number goes up to 20,000 during holidays, at Christmastime. Most of the Indians who are here in Canada and the United States, when they come home for holidays, they come for a retreat,” said Vallooran.
Many Indians living in Canada suggested that he host retreats here, too. And throughout the month of March he has been doing just that.
COLLINS CELEBRATES MASS
He led a three-day retreat in Toronto attended by upwards of 1,200 people. Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins celebrated the Mass to conclude the retreat. Vallooran later visited parishes throughout Ontario. After his retreat in Edmonton, he moved on to Delta, B.C.
Mending the body, mind and soul is a large component of Vallooran’s retreats.
Vallooran shared a story about a family doctor who attended a retreat at the Divine Retreat Centre.
The doctor had an 11-year-old son suffering from a brain tumour. An operation to remove the tumour had already failed. Medical science had no remedy, said Vallooran. The doctor wanted his son to be healthy, so he approached Vallooran for assistance. Much to the doctor’s confusion, Vallooran praised God for the boy’s brain tumour.
“I showed him the Bible. I showed him in the Bible that we are to thank and praise God for all things and in all circumstances,” said Vallooran.
LETTING GOD DO IT
The doctor learned a lesson in the value of praising God. Rather than complaining about his boy’s ailment, he sang songs and prayed, and he felt a peace in his heart. Later, the boy was tested at the same hospital where he had been diagnosed and the tumour was gone, the priest said.
“When we speak of healing, we mean not only the bodily healing. We mean the whole person being healed, the spiritual healing, the inner healing and then the bodily healing.”
The New Testament speaks of Jesus healing people from all of their life problems, he said, not only doctoring the physical body, which is the most superficial type of healing.
“It is in that sense we call this a healing service,” he explained, citing a story from Matthew 9. “A paralyzed man went to Jesus. The people wanted Jesus to heal him of the paralysis, but what Jesus did was tell him that his sins were forgiven.
“Jesus understood the deeper problem of this man, which was a spiritual problem. What ailed him was not really a physical paralysis, but a spiritual paralysis.”