Father Stuart Long was a diocesan priest from Helena, Montana who was diagnosed with a terminal illness (ALS) before his ordination. Father Stu became a beloved priest, confessor and friend to countless people. His physical suffering sanctified him. Accepting the pain and weakness of each day he gave thanks to God always.
Father Stu’s witness brought dozens (if not hundreds) of Montanans to Christ. His fascinating life story (before his conversion to his deathbed decree) will be portrayed in a major motion picture set for release later this year, starring Catholic actors Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson.
Father Stu’s life story, which appeared in California Catholic as “Boxer, actor, priest” upon his death in 2014, was an inspiration for the film.
The following is a three-part correspondence between Fr. Stu and his parishioners during a pilgrimage to Lourdes and the acceptance of his fate as a dying priest.
My trip to Lourdes was very fruitful, but not at all what I expected. I did not receive the instantaneous, physical healing we were praying for. I did however, have two experiences that completely changed my life.
The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes rests upon a rock just above the Grotto where St. Bernadette received her vision. The grotto is surrounded by outdoor plumbing, with many spouts where pilgrims can obtain water. I saw many washing their faces, drinking and filling containers. To the right were the private baths where pilgrims are clothed in a garment embroidered with a prayer invoking Mary’s intercession. Four volunteers were needed to help me in and out of the bath.
I entered the pool expecting, in faith, an immediate healing. The assistants plunged me backwards into the water and had to pull me back up. I stood briefly silently praying, then tried to walk on my own but was unable.
I was placed back into my wheelchair and left weakened, troubled and discouraged. After a day or two of conversation, Fr. Kilian convinced me to return to the waters for a second attempt.
I began the day with Mass outside the Basilica. The homily lasted about 30 minutes and focused on praying the Rosary and the Chaplet of Mercy. I was situated among 500 or so saintly souls in a similar condition (those in wheelchairs with physical and/or mental disabilities). To be quite frank, I had never felt so humbled and unworthy. I may struggle now, but most of my life has been blessed with good health and a strong body.
My prayer this time was simple: “Lord Jesus Christ, your will be done. If I am healed, it is your will. If not, this is also your will. I desire your will. Please Lord, if you do not give me healing, give me the grace to endure lest I lose heart. I ask this through the Immaculate Conception, our Mother.”
I was plunged into the water for a second time but still did not receive a physical healing. I was graced however, with something more important in my opinion, a spiritual healing. I was given an immediate and assured confidence that from this point of my life on that I would carry my cross with Christ.
Parts 2 and 3 of the correspondence to appear tomorrow and Wednesday. Thanks to Robert Moscato for sending this to California Catholic Daily.
I think it is a falsehood to describe Mel Gibson as a Catholic actor.
Yes, he attends a private, schismatic, independent church with a validly ordained rent-a-priest.
That’s your opinion, unless you personally know him. Do you? I personally will give him the benefit of the doubt.
More of that non-judgmental Novus Ordo-ism on full display, I see.
Isn’t claiming that “spiritual healings” (whatever they are) are more valuable than physical healings — which are, let’s be honest, the real sort of healings — a cop out? Like you’re trying to persuade yourself and others that you got something when maybe you didn’t? And pretending it’s even better than what you wanted? Like, oh, I didn’t get a real $100 bill but I got this Monopoly $500 bill, which is even better than what I wanted!!!
Spiritual healings are like private revelation, they pertain only to the individual. You are free to believe or disbelieve the individual claim. For some to be healed spiritually, emotionally or psychologically is more powerful.
Fr. Stu was a very normal guy before his ordination, and he had the same sorts of issues that normal people have — including the need for spiritual healing. Also, many older Catholics, such as myself, usually pray for spiritual blessings for ourselves and others— not physical ones. In short, I feel that’s it’s inappropriate to discount Fr. Stu’s words.
I’m looking forward to seeing this movie. Whether or not the actors are perfect Catholics or the audience experiences a “revelation” is up to God, not me. At least it will be good entertainment and a relief from most of Hollywood’s lewd or abusive garbage.
Ive been to Lourdes as a young woman. I received a spiritual healing. I believe that everyone who goes there with Faith and prays for this gift receives the spiritual blessing. For some Or many who have lost the Faith Or never had it, it’s a big journey to get there first. It requires the humility to ask/ beg God first for Faith. Never give up!
Why would God make it so that you have to spend thousands of dollars to travel to a specific place to get graces and healings? Doesn’t seem fair nor right.
The answer: God doesn’t require that people go to specific places for healing [other than Catholic churches].
Then why do people go to Lourdes instead of their corner Catholic church?
Because they want to.
Rosemary Sporleder, thank you for you testimony. Praise Jesus for your healing.