Blue collar Catholic faith healer

Blue collar Catholic faith healer

Here’s a profile of a Boston-area Catholic layman with a special healing ministry.

From childhood, Kelly swam in Catholic devotion. One of 12 children whose mother “had every kind of saint in the world around” the house, he grew up to be a daily attendant at Mass. In 1985 he found himself working a job at New England Medical Center when his wrist brushed against exposed wiring, severely shocking him.

When he awoke, he saw the proverbial white light, but Kelly is quick to say that he wasn’t glimpsing the hereafter; it was the white-coated doctors surrounding him. He had always been wobbly at the sight of blood or a needle for a shot, and when he was told he would need an operation to implant a pacemaker, fear washed over him. He prayed to Padre Pio — the Italian priest, stigmatic, and saint-to-be — and says the dead man appeared to him in his room.

“I saw him clear as a bell,” Kelly said. “And he said to me, be at total peace, everything would be fine… . When he came in, there was an aura of peace over me.” Kelly’s fear dissolved — “You could have given me an autopsy” — and the operation went without a hitch.

Life’s vicissitudes ensued. He was diagnosed with painful rheumatoid arthritis. His marriage crumbled. (“I ask that you quote it that I still live the sacrament as though I’m married,” he said.) He and his young son went to live in an apartment together. After the accident, his praying had gone into overdrive, and he continued to ask what God wanted from him after sparing his life.

His answer came one night. “I lit up a cigarette, and I looked to my left,” Kelly said. “Right on my couch was Jesus himself.”

He looked “Jewish with long hair,” in Kelly’s description, resembling the Christ in pictures of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic devotion. “You’ll never smoke again, because this is in answer to your son’s prayer,” he told Kelly, who says he thus learned that his 9-year-old had been praying for him. Jesus also told him, “From now on, I take over,” and walked through the closed door.

I’d be skeptical, but it says that his spiritual adviser is Fr. Ronald Tacelli, SJ, a Boston College professor known for his orthodoxy. He said he was skeptical at first too, but came to believe him. It’s an interesting story.

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