When friends of Father John Lubey began to plan a Mass to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his death, they wanted participants of the gathering to celebrate the life and ministry of a humble priest well-known for his healing Masses throughout the area.

In her welcome before the Mass, one of the organizers, Maureen Hannan said the Mass was a “way to give glory to God for the gift of Father Lubey, the gift of his healing ministry, and the gift of his priesthood.”

But as the date of the celebration drew near, the planning committee felt the liturgy should also be offered for the healing of the Church. “We needed to draw people together to pray for healing of those abused,” Hannan added.

More than 100 people – including nine priests concelebrating the liturgy – gathered last month at St. Andrew Apostle Church in Silver Spring to pray, attend Mass, and remember Father Lubey -- a priest and friend who helped many of the participants receive both physical and spiritual healing in their own lives.

Father Lubey, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington from 1943 until his death in 1999, regularly celebrated Masses for healing. In the program, Maureen and John Hannan wrote that the anniversary celebration commemorated “Father Lubey’s priesthood and healing ministry, his gentleness and compassion,” and offered an opportunity to thank God for Father Lubey’s gifts of prophecy and healing which “brought Christ to souls and countless souls to Christ, through his priesthood.”

In his homily at the Mass, Msgr. Stephen Rossetti – the former president of the St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring and currently a professor in The Catholic University of America’s School of Theology and Religious Studies – recalled speaking during Father Lubey’s funeral Mass on July 27, 1999. 

Msgr. Stephen Rossetti – the former president of the St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring and currently a professor in The Catholic University of America’s School of Theology and Religious Studies – speaks during the memorial Mass. Msgr. Rossetti also spoke at Father Lubey’s funeral Mass on July 27, 1999. (CS photo/Christopher Newkumet)

He asked those present two decades later, “Why are we remembering this quiet, unassuming, little priest?” For some it is to share stories of physical healing still happening today – for example one man who recovered from cancer just four years ago after his wife used holy water blessed by Father Lubey before his death. But especially for “all of us – when you walked away from a conversation with Father Lubey, you felt God’s love and healing in some way,” Msgr. Rossetti said.

Although humble, Father Lubey “poured himself out for those who needed him,” Msgr. Rossetti said. “They would call him day and night.”

Not only would Father Lubey use his ministry to help heal physical needs of others even to the point of finding shoes and clothes for people in need, but he focused on the healing of the soul.

He would end every encounter with the prayer, “In the name of Jesus, be healed. In the name of Jesus, be at peace.” And he would encourage the faithful to do the same – pour “ourselves out in service to others,” Msgr. Rossetti noted.

In this way, Father Lubey continues to be a “conduit to God’s love and healing,” Msgr. Rossetti added. Father Lubey’s humility in life reminds each of the faithful to be instruments of God’s love, Msgr. Rossetti said. The responsibility of sharing God’s love, explained Msgr. Rossetti, was also uniquely represented by a statue of Jesus owned by Father Lubey.

The statue, which was placed in the sanctuary for the anniversary Mass, depicts the familiar representation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – except the Jesus in Father Lubey’s statue happened to be missing hands, said Msgr. Rossetti. Although no one knew exactly why the hands were gone, Father Lubey would insist that the faithful are called to serve as Jesus’s hands, Msgr. Rossetti said.

On display at the Mass marking the 20th anniversary of the death of Father John Lubey was this statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, once owned by the late priest. The statue is missing hands because Father Lubey would insist that the faithful are called to serve as Jesus’s hands, Msgr. Stephen Rossetti said. (CS photo/Christopher Newkumet)

Father Dan Leary, pastor of St. Andrew Apostle, urged participants to heal others as well. “The Church needs you to bring healing back to the Church,” said the pastor, who did not personally know Father Lubey. He added, “the Lord really used Father Lubey for healing.”    

After the Mass, friends of the priest recalled stories of Father Lubey’s kindness, friendship and their personal experience of all types of healing for themselves and family members.

Peggy Morris remembered the healing Masses Father Lubey celebrated were always very well attended. She recalled attending a Mass for the 50th Anniversary of Father Lubey’s ordination in 1993 and bringing a friend who was experiencing some emotional distress and mental health issues, but who left the liturgy at peace. “Father Lubey would say the greatest healing is the spiritual healing – that you are going to get closer to God,” Morris recalled.

Dave Michaels, attended the anniversary Mass from the Archdiocese of Baltimore to honor the priest’s memory. A friend of Michaels’ parents, Father Lubey officiated at Michaels' Baptism.

Organizer John Hannan said he knew Father Lubey for seven years when the priest was in residence at St. Peter’s Parish in Olney. “He just loved the Lord and it exuded from his person,” said Hannan, who also served as a pallbearer at Father Lubey’s funeral.

Linda and Bill Fadden traveled from Florida to attend the anniversary Mass. Bill Fadden met Father Lubey through his sister, and later received physical healing after an accident placed him in the hospital. Until then, Fadden said, he had not really practiced his faith. After his healing, Bill Fadden returned to Catholicism, his wife Linda converted to the faith and Father Lubey officiated at the couple’s wedding.

“We really miss him,” Linda Fadden said, recalling the priest’s humility, kindness and sense of humor. But most importantly, Father Lubey’s relationship with God stands out. “He would pray for the words God wanted him to say,” she added.

Nancy Koons of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Great Falls, Virginia, said Father Lubey was filled with compassion and with the Holy Spirit. Koons shared a story of healing for her then 18-month-old daughter who was spared surgery after attending a healing Mass celebrated by the priest.

Father Lubey taught us all “we are vessels filled with God’s love. He wanted us to know God not only loves us, He likes us and He came to save us. Father Lubey carried the good news,” she said.