Dr. Mary Healy, a long-time friend of Renewal Ministries, a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, and a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, recently joined the Renewal Ministries’ team as a special consultant. We are happy to introduce her to our readers in the interview below.
Please share some of your testimony with us.
We were “Sunday Catholics” until my parents’ conversion when I was twelve. But from early on, I had a hunger for the Lord. At age six, I had a dream about Jesus—I think that was when I began to fall in love with Him.
In high school, I went on retreats, attended Bible studies, and was in the parish choir, but I never really learned how to have a prayer life, a daily interaction with the Lord. In college, I found little to foster my faith, and I felt far from God. That is why I attended the Franciscan University of Steubenville for graduate school. I knew I could find the Lord there.
I took a course with Fr. Frances Martin and began to see what incredible treasures of wisdom and inspiration are found in Scripture when it is unpacked and interpreted rightly. I decided to pursue the scholarly study of the Bible.
But before I did that, the Lord unexpectedly led me to Mother of God Community, a charismatic group in Maryland. I was there for many years. The community was a tremendous gift, a means of deeper conversion and growth in my life.
What drew you to the Charismatic Renewal?
In the Renewal, I saw New Testament Christianity lived out in a most visible and radical way. I saw a strong awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit and His activity in our daily life. I saw a recognition that by His power, it is truly possible to put sin to death and live for God.
When have you seen the Holy Spirit at work?
In Mother of God Community, there were the typical challenges of living in very close fellowship with others. But we experienced the power of the Holy Spirit as we worked out our differences through prayer, spiritual warfare, relying on the cross of Jesus and His blood, and learning to forgive and love each other.
The gifts of prophecy and tongues have always been important to my spiritual growth and community life. Later, the Lord began to teach me more about the role of signs and wonders.
Describe the mission of your work and life.
My mission is to know and love the Lord and to make Him known and loved, especially by helping spread the grace of baptism in the Holy Spirit throughout the Church.
How did your relationship with Renewal Ministries begin?
My parents have been friends with Ralph and Anne Martin for more than thirty years. I watched The Choices We Face in its early days. I’ve admired Renewal Ministries almost since its beginning. In the late 1990s, I went on a Renewal Ministries’ mission to Lithuania, which was a wonderful experience. Since moving near Ann Arbor, I’ve been blessed to be friends with Ralph, Peter, and Sr. Ann. It’s been a great blessing to have a deeper relationship with them.
When did you move to Ann Arbor?
Ralph invited me to apply for a position as a professor of Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary eight years ago. Sacred Heart has been a wonderful place to teach. I have outstanding colleagues. The faculty have a real unity of heart, a love for the Lord and the Church, and a respect for one another. There is an openness to the Holy Spirit and His charisms, a focus on the New Evangelization, and a clear vision of what the Lord is doing in the Church today.
Please tell us about one of your biggest projects, writing the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, with Dr. Peter Williamson.
It was Peter’s idea. We both completed our doctorates in Rome in 2000, and we both recognized that there is a lack of good Catholic resources in the middle range, between academic and popular writings. The Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture breaks open the Word and shows that God is still speaking to us through His Word today.
People have been very grateful and enthusiastic about the series, especially priests, deacons, seminarians, and bishops, some of whom have told me they use it every day for spiritual reading. Lay people also have thanked me for it. Catholics don’t have a culture of studying the Bible in depth. I want to help create that culture—a zeal for digging into the Word of God, studying it, and getting to know it.
You are a member of the ICCRS (International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services) Doctrinal Commission. Please tell us about that.
The Doctrinal Commission was formed ten years ago to provide theological guidance to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. We’ve published two documents so far, Guidelines on Prayers for Healing and Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and we’ve just finished a new one on deliverance ministry, which we hope to publish this year. These documents are geared toward leaders and participants in the Renewal as well as priests or bishops with responsibility over Renewal groups.
Please tell us about being a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.
The PBC is an international group of twenty biblical scholars appointed by the pope, whose job it is to advise the Holy See on matters related to biblical interpretation. In the present five-year term, our task is to study the topic of biblical anthropology: What does the Bible teach about the human person? We will produce a document, and then the pope will decide whether it gets published.
You have published Healing: Bringing the Gift of God’s Mercy to the World and Renewal Ministries produced a CD of your discussions with Peter Herbeck on this topic, entitled Does Jesus Still Heal? Please tell us about your interest in this area.
Three years ago, I took a sabbatical, which allows time for more focused research. I really felt the Lord prompting me to study healing and its role in evangelization.
During that time, I went on a mission trip to Brazil as part of a team with Randy Clark, a Protestant evangelist with an international healing ministry. For those two weeks, I saw miracles daily. I saw the Lord open blind eyes and deaf ears; I saw tumors and pain disappear; some of our team members saw people get out of wheelchairs. After that, I couldn’t be the same. I cannot but speak of what I have seen and heard! Healings and miracles are meant to be a part of the New Evangelization.
How can people experience this in their own lives?
We need to fill our minds with truth—to read the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles and meditate on what Scripture reveals about Jesus as our Healer. Also, it helps to hang out with people who are exercising great faith and seeing miracles. Step out in faith. Pray for healing with great fervor and expectancy, especially when evangelizing. Obey the leading of the Holy Spirit, even if He takes you outside of your comfort zone. Anyone who does that and perseveres is going to see amazing things.
You speak all over the world. Please tell us about that.
It’s a real privilege to get a glimpse of what the Lord is doing around the world. The Lord is awakening Christians everywhere to our identity as sons and daughters of God and to the authority we have in Christ. So many people today are in need of healing, and many miracles of healing and deliverance are occurring.
The Lord also is awakening the Church to the urgent priority of Christian unity. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we have to seek to overcome divisions in the Body of Christ, which are a scandal to the world.
I see many reasons to hope. People are beginning to heed Pope Francis’ call to go out to the peripheries with the Gospel and not to remain enclosed in church buildings. The laity is taking a leadership role in carrying out the mission of the Church. People are evangelizing with bold faith for signs and wonders.
Do you have any new work coming out soon?
There is the ICCRS document on deliverance ministry, and I am co-authoring a book with Randy Clark on spiritual gifts from an ecumenical perspective. Also, my commentary on Hebrews just came out!
This article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ October 2016 newsletter. You can view the entire newsletter here.