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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Fordham Miracle: Part III

The Fordham University Church


This is a report on the workshop I gave at Fordham University on June 2.  The occasion was the annual “jubilee” in which the members of the graduating class of 50 years ago are brought together for a special celebration. As reported earlier, I had been invited to present a workshop by the President of Fordham, Fr. John McShane, entitled, “Aging gracefully with healing prayer.”  A topic just right for folks mostly in their 70s.

The trip to Fordham from Atlanta was tedious. I got to the airport three hours early because I went there directly from my workplace, which is near the airport.  I did not know that a severe weather front had closed down LaGuardia Airport, my destination. I approached the departure gate desk, but noticed the flight was not posted. The American Airlines agent informed me that the flight, and many others, were cancelled. The earliest flight to New York they could get me brought be there one hour after my workshop was to start.

Wow! A moment of panic. And then I began to pray. From my smart phone I posted a Facebook plea for a miracle to get me to Fordham on time. I called my sister’s convent and asked the three nuns there (they are all very senior, but highly Spirit-filled) to pray. I called my wife and asked her to pray in tongues for this miracle – she has a wonderful gift of tongues.

I explained to the agent that a morning arrival would be useless, and I explained why I was going to Fordham. The agent, an African-American, continued to work her computer trying to see if there was something else. The agent’s friend, and a cleaning person for the airline was at the desk, and I asked if she was a believer. She said yes, and she had herd my request, so we both began praying and agreeing for a miracle.

It happened.

The agent looked at me and said, “We never transfer a passenger to Delta, but I am putting you on a flight on Delta that leaves at 11:30 tonight for JFK. I may not have a job tomorrow.” I responded, “No, you will not be fired. In fact, you will have favor and be promoted.” I placed my hand on her head and prayed for a moment. The cleaning person was all smiles.

Due to the scheduling disruptions from the storm, we took off at 12:30. In any case, I arrived at Fordham at 3:30 am, with enough time to get four hours sleep. That, with the sleep time on the plane allowed me to wake up rested and ready to go.

The workshop went very well, but was also disappointing. I had an audience of about 15. I was expecting a bigger crowd and was especially disappointed that a group of grad students and teachers from the Graduate School of Social Service did not attend. There was an email correspondence between myself and a staff member who expressed great interest in the workshop, as they regularly encounter sickly elderly persons in their work.

On the positive side, one of the Jesuits on staff at Fordham attended, and he seemed to be pleased with the workshop. He had to leave before I had a chance to talks with him. Besides a quick introduction to healing prayer, we did several prayer exercises, including the important one on the difference between petition prayer and command prayer. One person in the group had a serious illness, Parkinson’s, and we prayed for her. Unfortunately, it was a form of Parkinson’s that does not manifest in trembling hands, so we could not see immediate improvement. But the participants were pleased and excited with the presentation, and I trust the Lord for the good fruit in the future.

Right after the workshop I went to a reception given by the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (pastries were excellent). I earlier had an email correspondence with the dean of the school, and although he also showed interest in the workshop none of his staff or grad students attended. But I did meet him personally.

More importantly, I had a long conversation with the school’s professor of Christian spirituality. I believe that conversation was one of the most important thing I did at Fordham. I introduced myself as the presenter at the healing workshop and a charismatic Anglican. She had heard of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal knew but nothing about it.  I briefly explained it to her as well as the relationship of the Charismatic Renewal to healing prayer. She gave me rapt attention. I am sure many of you had had similar experiences as you explain the Gospel to someone who is ready to receive it. I gave her a copy of my work on Agnes Sanford, and her eyes were nailed to the book summary at the back cover.

She commented that she would like to bring me in for a session or two on the topics of the Charismatic Renewal and healing prayer. However, since I lived in Georgia, and airfare is expensive, it would have to be by Skype. I said that would be fine. She added this may take a year or more before it is done. My heart sank and I thought, “Good grief! Your students need this now!”  

PRAY that something happens in one of her courses that opens a way for this to happen soon.

To your right is what is featured as “spirituality” at Fordham. Note the absence of healing or deliverance, or intense prayer.

At the reception I also met a charming and pretty graduate from Fordham who was about to start in the graduate program at the School of Religion and Religious Education. Marvelous conversation. She was already interested in healing, and ate up every word I said about Agnes Sanford and Fr. Francis MacNutt. She said she would do a paper on MacNutt. Great!

I recognized that the Lord placed me in position to have other graced and providential conversations. At the Saturday night “gala dinner” I sat next to a couple who had tried to be good Catholics most of their lives, but their children were now “nones” – not going to church at all. They were both now in a Lutheran Church and heavily involved in Bible studies, etc.  The husband asked if it would be good to join the Stephen’s Ministry. I encouraged him that it would be a very good thing, as it is an excellent evangelical program.

It is sad but true that faith retention from parents to children among Catholics, especially non-Hispanic Catholics, is low. Most of the Alumni I met had very merge success in raising faith filled children. The root cause is that Catholics no longer live in predominantly Catholic neighborhoods. In those neighborhoods social pressure impelled a person to be a Catholic. That has disappeared, and will also disappear for the Hispanics in the next generation. Which is to say, that being Catholic, or Protestant for that matter, because of identity is an insufficient reason, and will not resist the corrosive effects of secularism.  

The Biblical reason for a person to belong to a Christian community is found in Heb 2:13. It is a community where the Apostolic doctrine is taught, but it is verified by “signs and wonders,” i.e miracles of healing and the gifts of the Spirit. Such is the pattern of modern Pentecostal churches, where in most of them ethnic identity is of no consequence.

Along the way I also laid hands on several persons with serious diseases. On line to get into the gala dinner, I chatted with the lady in front of me and mentioned that I taught the healing workshop. She shared that her husband is now battling cancer which has metastasized. When he joined her I offered to pray for him, and he said yes. He was quite surprised at the aggressive way in which I prayed, casting of the spirit of death and the spirit of cancer. I trust the Lord will use that prayer to great effect.

The Jubilee ended Sunday afternoon. I went to my sister’s convent in Scarsdale where I rested and was able to shop, relax and have lunch with her, all a real blessing. Ol’ Scratch took a last shot a me though. When I arrived at the Atlanta airport it took me an hour to find my car – the parking lot is huge and I misread the ticket. I got home depressed as Ol’Scratch reminded me of how much it cost me (over $500) to get to Fordham and back, for only 15 attendees, etc. Thankfully my wife, who is now bedridden, but fully capable spiritually, discerned the attack and prayed over me. I felt fine the next morning.

At work the next day I had time to write a note to President McShane, thanking him for allowing me to teach healing to the alumni, and sharing how much I enjoyed doing that.  I suggested that it would be good to do a similar workshop for the “Pedro Arrupe Volunteers.”  This is a group of Fordham students who go out among the poor in the New York area and do good works such as participating in the Habitat for Humanity project. What a combination that would be, doing good works and praying effectively for the sick. Amazing, just like the Gospel!  

PRAY this happens (Not in two years please!). Let’s pray and expect much fruit from this visit.  
Thank you.










Addendum:

I am posting part of an email I received on 6/7/18 from Fr. Daniel Gatti, the Jesuit who attended my healing workshop.

It is appreciative and positive, yet expresses no real desire for me to return to Fordham and continue teaching healing prayer. PRAYERS PLEASE for circumstances to change and for the administrators and staff at Fordham to understand that a Christian education is not complete until there is substantial teaching about healing/deliverance and the gifts of the Spirit.

Dear Fr. Bill,

I enjoyed your presentation and found it to be helpful in reminding me of the charismatic gifts in the Church, at times forgotten, and often under utilized and under appreciated. I found your knowledge of the history of the sacrament of the sick enlightening. Equally enlightening was your explanation and comparison of petitionary healing prayer and authoritative healing prayer. 

I haven't met Dr. Shannon McAlister myself, but her interest in having you do a Skype with her students appears to me to be a good way for you to maintain a link with Fordham. I can't comment on your possible involvement with the Pedro Arrupe Volunteers since I don't know how that group is organized or who is in charge. I do know that they are a multi-faith group and when praying with the poor they pray in their own religious tradition.

Thank you for the bibliography on healing prayer and for your devotion to alma mater Fordham. I hope to meet you again at future Fordham reunions. May God continue to bless you and your ministry of healing.

Peace,

Fr. Dan



Rev. Daniel J. Gatti, SJ JES '65, GSE '66   

Alumni Chaplain

Addendum: 10/10/18

This is from my Facebook page:

Hi, I keep on praying, and I hope you join me, for the “Fordham Miracle.” That is, to teach healing and deliverance prayer at the various schools at Fordham university, such as the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education. Nowhere in any of Fordham’s schools, graduate or undergraduate, is there a course on healing prayer or how it could be integrated into the healing or counseling professions.  As I explained in my last blog posting on this, I got to first base in my trip to Fordham, some interest and promise of future opportunity, but have not gotten to home base yet – teaching an actual course.

I had a dream several weeks ago that the Lord is working behind the scenes on this, but the time is not quite yet. I tried bargaining with the Lord. Have you ever done that? “Look, Mary asked for a miracle before Jesus’ proper time (Cana, water to wine) and that did not mess up His ministry. Besides, later in scripture He told his disciples that they are His true mother, brothers and sisters (Luke 8: 2—22). I am a disciple. So hey…2 +2 = 4, Right?”

Well, in any case, I keep praying about this and monitoring Fordham’s web site, and their news items. Came upon the following dreadful news item in their e-news. The “Principalities and Power” are strong over Fordham, as they are over countless other Christian or ex-Christian colleges and universities. 



We need to pray for our former, and lukewarm Christian colleges and Universities, that in the coming revival they become places of discernment and the manifest wisdom and power of the Lord.