Boston’s healing priest

An interesting story about Fr. Edward McDonough, a priest of the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston’s Mission Hill neighborhood who is 85 years old and has a well known healing ministry.

For 30 years, the Rev. Edward McDonough has led healing services at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Roxbury’s Mission Hill, better known as Mission Church.

Skeptics may scoff, but believers say his touch and his prayers have banished cancer, pain, depression, and many other ailments and afflictions from their bodies, minds, and souls. He is an octogenarian with a website, fathermcdonough.org, and his healing ministry includes a prayer line and daily radio programs. The cellphone in the pocket of his black cardigan rings often. It is almost impossible to be Catholic in Boston and not know about McDonough. He has preached to packed churches around the world, and, wherever he goes, people want to touch him.

People come seeking blessings — the sick and the weary and the desperate, the frantic parents of gravely ill children, the anonymous men and women who whisper their troubles to the man in the white robe and the red stole.

During McDonough’s recent stay at Massachusetts General Hospital, nurses had to keep away those seeking healing so the priest could rest.

The story includes the expected anecdotes about miraculous healings acquired after having McDonough pray for them. He is no spotlight-seeking celebrity: “He repeatedly tells interviewers and starry-eyed worshippers alike that God does all the work. ‘It isn’t anything I do,’ he says. ‘Basically, I have to show up.’”

He used to celebrate an occasional healing Mass at my parish and he would always tell the congregation that every prayer is answered, but not every answer is physical healing. In every case, there is a spiritual healing because, as Christ said, the harder and more difficult cure is not the one for ailments of the body, but sin, the ailments of the soul.

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