‘Healing the Whole Person’ Conference hosted by John Paul II Healing Center at Our Lady of Good Counsel inspires trust in God’s love
PLYMOUTH — God doesn’t simply want to “fix” people. Rather, He desires to bring people into a deep encounter with His healing love.
That was the message during a four-day healing conference hosted by the Florida-based John Paul II Healing Center at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth from Sept. 15-18.
Hundreds of Catholics and others attending the conference heard from speakers about God’s transformative love, especially in the midst of trials and hurts.
The John Paul II Healing Center, founded by therapist, speaker and author Bob Schuchts, Ph.D., is known for its conferences and retreats — most often for priests — focused on healing and evangelical transformation.
The center’s Healing the Whole Person Conferences, which takes place four to five times per year in different locations around the country, is open to lay Catholics and invites participants into an experience of God’s love they might not have experienced before, said Diana George, senior event coordinator for the conference.
The Plymouth event is the first time the conference has been held in the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Over the course of the four-night conference, which concludes Saturday, speakers guided the audience on living in freedom and wholeness by exploring what true healing looks like, as well as how to grow in holiness and communion with God.
“By his stripes, we are healed; by his wounds, we are healed,” Schuchts said during his keynote talk Sept. 15. “Most of us are ashamed of our wounds. Sometimes we think that our woundedness is a deficiency in us that makes us unworthy of love, and the very opposite is true.”
Ailments, especially emotional and spiritual ailments, are a deprivation of love, Schuchts said, so the remedy is to allow more love in. When a person’s wounds are touched by Jesus, that person can also bring healing to those around them.
“When his resurrection life touches your wounds, you bring healing to the people around you –– the people most immediate to you, and even the people that you will never meet,” Schuchts said. “Because that is the nature of grace; just like sin is multiplied out into the world, so is grace. And where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.
“Even if our wounds came from the sin of others or our own sin, the grace that comes through those wounds is more powerful than the effect of the sin, once we allow the Holy Spirit to move through us in those ways,” Schuchts added.
The conference also included daily Mass, live worship music, opportunities for confession and private journaling, as well as powerful moments of group prayer. A bookstore was open for participants to find additional resources.
Schuchts was joined by his brother, Bart Schuchts, founder of Church on Fire, and Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, a renowned Catholic speaker, author and podcaster on the “Abiding Together” podcast.
Sr. Miriam emphasized that each person is not a problem to be fixed, but rather a person to be loved.
“(Jesus) desires to bring every single part of us into communion with him,” Sr. Miriam said. “And you know what is healing, is communion; what is healing is safety; what is healing is authentic love; what is healing is that he will never leave us.”
Jesus came to reconcile all things to the Father, which applies to everyone and every part of a person, Sr. Miriam explained. Christ is attentive and sees people in their wholeness, instead of the way people often see themselves.
“There are parts of our hearts and parts of our lives and parts of our stories that we do not like at all ... that we hold in deep contempt, deep shame, deep self-hatred, deep rejection,” Sr. Miriam explained. “And Christ never rejects a single part of us. He is so incredibly gracious, and he loves us and he is not deterred.”
Suffering is inevitable, but the question isn’t whether suffering will come, but what a person chooses to do with it, she said.
Sr. Miriam explained that, in her own life, Christ brought her face to face with her shortcomings, and that by bringing one’s wounds forward, Christ places himself at the center of a person’s heart.
Healing is a journey, Sr. Miriam said, and when a person invite Jesus in, they heal bit by bit. As a person grows in security and safety in him, their healing grows deeper.
“Suffering that is not transformed is transmitted, which means that any suffering in your life and my life that has yet to be transformed by Jesus Christ does not go away,” Sr. Miriam said.
Rather than burying suffering deep in one’s heart, Sr. Miriam encouraged bringing it to light, lamenting it openly so Jesus can heal one’s wounds.
“In these very places that we often hate and wrestle with, it is in these very places where we allow Jesus to come with his tenderness over and over again,” she said. “When we come to the pure area of suffering, of grief before the cross, this is the greatest path to resurrection and to a beauty never known before.”