Boston’s healing priest

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,, 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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  • I don’t have any experience with Father McDonough. I have to assume he does a lot of good for people.

    Be that as it may, the “healing priests” that I’ve come across tend to be very self-absorbed when it come to celebrating Mass. It invariably takes two hours; not because of a stirring homily, or the mass numbers of those who are healed, but because they ad-lib the living daylights out of the Mass. Apparently since people come to see them, they assume it’s ALL about them! Ten- or fifteen-minute greetings, constant introductions and spontaneous yakkity-yak at every conceivable opportunity.

    Please tell me this guy isn’t like that.

    • What a horrible thing to say. The priest with healing consider their gift a curse most times as people in droves never let them rest. But the time in the mass is not something that is done by your watch but Gods watch. Who says the mass is supposed to be hurried? Why is this such a common request. If you understand the mass it is the gateway or connection between heaven and earth. Why would anyone want to shorten such a presence. The now Saint Padre Pio had masses 3, 4, 5 hours long because he was in Ecstasy being caught up on heavens plain while standing on earth. This was nothing but amazing. People are so jealous of these gifts. We have to remember they are still human beings with vices and habits just like ours and yet they serve while under constant attack from satan and forces of evil. Could you be such a man? Could you do such a job for so many years without rest? Luckily Grace carries them through each day. What is so annoying about Gods miracles to so many. I have had much experience with Healing Priests and Fr. McDonough is one of them. Try to look past the Man and try to understand the heavenly connection. He may have 15 minute conversations because the person hes speaking to is being healed or being communicated with from Heaven or it may even be people that were directed from around the world to see him for a very specific reason. If someone came across the world to see you, how much time would you give them? Is a minute too long for such a journey? I follow Frank Kelly, hes not even a priest, yet he brings healing to sometimes 10,000 a night, til 1:00 am or 2;00 am in the morning, you need to rethink what you are looking for, heaven at mass or a fast food drive through.

  • “P. Pio’s masses lasted hours … without anything being about him!”

    Obviously no comparison was being made between these guys and Padre Pio, but thanks for the tidbit.

  • Fr. McDonough’s prayer services have a bit of charismatic feel to them,but it’s relatively low key. Rosay, Divine Mercy chaplet, some songs, a testimony. It’s basically a bunch of Christians filling a church to gather together in prayer.

    I’ve attended several times when I lived in Boston.

    It is good that the article points out that the church (Basillica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help) does have a history of miraculous healings. At the side altar where a copy of the icon of Our Lady of P.H. resides, there are 2 huge collections of crutches representing healings that occurred since back in the 1800’s when the church was first built.

    I’ve spoken w/ many folks who have been there and witnessed physical healings. And heard many testimonies of spiritual healings.

    It’s basically an apostolate of prayer. And the church is open every day, throughout the day. You’ll see many folks who live and work nearby (many from the hospitals in OR clothes) stopping in for a quick prayer.

    That church and the priests and people there were instrumental in my returning to the Catholic Church. It’s a special place and I recommend anybody visiting Boston to stop in for Mass or just to spend some time in front of the icon of Our Lady.

    And if you like beautiful old Catholic churches, you won’t find many that rival it in North America.

  • My neighbor, a father of three very young children, and with inoperable cancer, recently went to Father McDonough for prayer. Please at your prayers for Paul Morell, and pray for a miracle.

  • Back more than 20 years ago, I went to a locally held Healing Mass led by Fr. McDonough. I had no idea what it or who he was, basically had nothing better to do and I was curious, so off I went with my sister and my best friend. I was also not quite ‘right’ with Jesus and His Church at the time, hadn’t quite rounded the reconversion corner, so to speak. He is a very holy man, humble as heck. At some point everyone lines up in a row and he goes to each person and touches them… so now I was skeptical and thinking I would leave, this stuff, which I perceived as kind of ‘snake handling’ evangelical stuff is just not for me. Somehow or other I ended up in line and Fr. McDonough was approaching me… his hand was out, he was going to make the sign of the cross on my forehead.. and the best way I can describe it was like this ‘force’ almost like the two ends of a magnet when you put the opposite ends together… it was the oddest thing I have ever felt physically. There seemed to be no one else in the room and he touched my forehead, and I darn near fell over! The last thing I ever expected as I thought this stuff was fake. Same thing happened with my sister and my friend… whatever it was, it was something not of this world. I am someone who has both feet on the ground and I am not easily convinced about things of this nature, not unless I see it myself. I wasn’t healed of anything physically but I believe maybe I was put on the path of reconversion at that time. I’m just hard headed and it took awhile!

    Anyhow, that’s just my .02, still not sure what I make of it myself.

    Mission Hill parish is beautiful, not wreckovated and at any time of the day there are people in there praying and saying the rosary. I’ve taken my kids to Mass there and it is like the United Nations – an example of ‘Here comes everybody!’

  • I have read the testimonials. A long time ago, I heard about Father McDonough. I was interested because my grandfather helped to heal people, helped in the same way as Father McDonough, he was present and used as an instrument while the Lord healed.

    I have a daughter that has had chronic anxiety and overall illness. Not sure if this is caused by a physical ailment (perhaps Lyme Disease) or a psychological, emotional, or soul seeking ailment. I would love to bring her to Father McDonough. I am not sure if that is possible, but does he still say masses in Boston?

    I desperately want my daughter to feel a healing from the Lord, if he so deems.

    Thanking you for any advice you can give….

    I remain in Christ.