2015 Conference at Chandos

Conference 2015 report by Richard Dunstan

Do you need to be healed? Put your trust in Jesus and you won’t be disappointed, says Sister Linda Koontz.

“To believe means to put all your weight on what Jesus has said,” she told a crowd of 1,100 at the 2015 Vancouver Catholic charismatic conference Sept. 18 and 19 in Surrey. “Those who trust in Him will never be disappointed.”

Sister Linda, of El Paso, TX, has worked with the poor of Ciudad Juarez, across the Rio Grande in Mexico, since 1977. Before that she was a key figure in the rise of the Catholic charismatic renewal in Canada, touring B.C. and Alberta in 1969 preaching about the Holy Spirit after she was baptized in the Spirit herself in her native Washington State.

Theme of the conference, held at Chandos Pattison Auditorium, was “I am willing—be healed,” and Sister Linda said Jesus is always willing. “There are no rules—Jesus heals all the time.” She said many people who believe Jesus can heal them still think it’s rare and unlikely, like winning the lottery. “Guess what—that’s a lie,” she said.

“Healing is not proof of the [Gospel] message. It is the message. The Kingdom of God is wholeness and healing. ‘Salvation’ means heath—in Greek it means being preserved from death and freed from disease, and ‘Jesus’ in Hebrew means the God who heals, the God who saves, the burden bearer, the one who breaks the yoke.”

Fear, negativity and unbelief can keep us from being healed, she said, and so can unforgiveness, even in the form of resentment. (“Resentment is hatred with a tuxedo on,” she said.) As to negativity and unbelief, “pray until you get results. If we’re going to rise up [and be healed], we must cry out to Jesus and not go anywhere else.”

Fear, she said, is one of Satan’s biggest weapons, but the Bible is clear: “fear not.” “Ninety-two per cent of what we worry about doesn’t happen,” she said. “When we’re in fear, we can’t pray. It destroys our faith. Today we must decide whether to live by fear or faith.”

Fear can’t be hoped or wished away, she said—only prayed away. And “fear not” doesn’t always mean “don’t feel afraid”—it means don’t run away. “Sometimes we have to do things afraid,” she said. “But as we take that step, we find that the Lord is there.”

Also speaking at the conference was Father Jerry Thompson of Los Angeles, who has been a charismatic since before his ordination 21 years ago. He has training in psychology as well as theology and had ministries in holistic healing and spiritual direction. He also has a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Father Thompson said healing can be mental or emotional as well as physical and can also involve the whole family. A key to healing, he said, is forgiveness. “Forgiveness is an act of love, and love is of God. To forgive is to experience God’s love in our own life, and to allow others, through our forgiveness, to experience God’s love for us.

To forgive, he said, we must embrace whatever needs to be forgiven, and then let it go. “One never forgets, but one must always forgive,” he said. “God wants us to be whole, and that begins by letting other people off the hook. Let God take care of it.”

We are still entitled to protect ourselves from an unhealthy relationship with the person we’re forgiving, he said; “forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciliation.” But hatred and vengeance are out. “When we decide to hate someone, we automatically begin to dig two graves: one for them and one for ourselves.”

Father Thompson said devotion to Mary is important because she will make the gifts we give to God more perfect as she presents them. “We have God’s grace, but she has all of it,” he said. “Jesus always does what His mother asks Him to do, because He is an obedient son.”

Archbishop Michael Miller celebrated the closing Mass for the conference. He said in his homily that parents are considered by the Church as the first evangelists and catechists of their children, and their work cannot be outsourced to other agencies. “None of our great Catholic schools can ever supplant your role as parents.”

He said parents should present the Gospel joyfully, keep learning about their own faith, read the Bible to their children, and attend Sunday Mass as a family. “You can’t shut down their [children’s] questions. You must know the faith,” he said. As for the Bible, it’s best to start with the Gospels; “don’t begin with the book of Genesis and think you have to plow through.”