Monday, August 4, 2008

The Healing Priest

I had never heard of Fr. Fernando Suarez until a few days ago when I had dinner with a friend from the Philippines who spoke glowingly about him. “He’s the real deal,” he said with full conviction. “I have personally seen him make the blind see and the lame walk.”

This friend related that for years he had a stiff neck with a limited range of motion that made it impossible for him to turn his neck either left or right without moving his whole body. Then he went to see Fr. Suarez who put his hand over my friend’s neck and prayed. After Fr. Suarez left, someone called my friend from the back and he turned his head to see who it was. It was the first time he could do it in years.

The friend related that after that “miracle”, he became a “disciple” and started attending the healing masses of Fr. Suarez. In one event, he noticed a woman carrying her blind daughter in her arms, patiently waiting in line, hoping that one touch from Fr. Suarez would heal her child. Fr. Suarez placed his hand gently over the child’s eyes and prayed. The child opened her eyes, my friend said, and she could see. The child’s mother started crying buckets of tears.

My friend decided to be that child’s “ninong” (godfather) and visited the child’s family at their modest home. He would take care of her education all the way through college, he promised them. The family told him that blindness was only one of her many medical problems which were all cured by Fr. Suarez. The child’s doctors could not understand how she was healed. It was a medical impossibility, they said.

Another friend at our dinner table related that she went to see Fr. Suarez the last time he was in San Francisco at St. Anne’s Church in the Sunset District. The church was packed and the line to be personally touched by Fr. Suarez stretched for blocks, she said. If I wanted to personally see Fr. Suarez, my “disciple” friend said, I was in luck because he would be passing by San Francisco on Sunday, August 3, on his way to Australia. He would be co-officiating a mass with his friend, Fr. Mark, at St. Mathew’s Church in San Mateo on Sunday morning. It was my regular tennis time but this was clearly more important and so I went.

Before the mass, Fr. Suarez was in a room behind the altar surrounded by people waiting to be touched by him. I was ushered into the room by my friend and I saw him. He was younger than I imagined, of slender build and Malay-skinned, no hint of mestizo blood - Spanish or Chinese - that I could see.

After waiting in line, it was my turn. Fr. Suarez placed his palm on my forehead, closed his eyes and prayed. He then placed his palm in my heart and prayed again. And then he placed his hand behind my neck and pulled me over gently as he whispered in my ear “Continue what you are doing to help people”. How could he possibly know that’s what I do or try to do? Does he whisper this message to everyone?

Other than my diabetes, I didn’t have a physical ailment that needed healing. My friend explained that Fr. Suarez regularly reminds people that God heals but not always in the form we expect, which is usually physical. We also need healing on the spiritual and emotional aspects, my friend said.

After touching a few more people, Fr. Suarez then told the rest that he would see them after mass, when he has stronger energy. He then concelebrated the 10:45 AM mass with two to other priests. After the mass, he went outside the church and a long line quickly formed.

Fr. Suarez was born in 1967 at Barrio Butong, in Taal, Batangas, to a driver father and a seamstress mother. He attended public schools until college where he earned a chemical engineering degree at Adamson University in Manila.

At age 16, young Fernando felt he call to pray for and heal the sick. He attempted to enroll in a seminary but he was rejected by the Franciscan Order and the Society of the Divine Word (SVD).

According to the Wikipedia encyclopedia, “Father Suarez discovered his gift of
healing at the age of 16. He saw a crippled woman and upon feeling sorry for her, he sat and prayed with her. During this, he literally started to feel bones growing in her legs, and due to shock, he ran away. He tried to keep this a secret for as long as he could, and agreed to pray with the sick as long as they don't tell anyone
about him.”

Engineer Suarez immigrated to Canada in 1996 and in 1997, joined the Companions of the Cross, a Catholic religious order. In 2002, he was ordained a Catholic priest and served as the associate pastor of St. Timothy's parish in North York, Ontario until July of 2003 when he created his worldwide Mary Mother of the Poor-Healing Ministry.

Even as Fr. Suarez travels the world, his heart remains in his home province of Batangas where he plans to build an oratory to the Blessed Virgin Mary on 20 hectares of land overlooking Batangas Bay in a place called MonteMaria or “mountain of Mary”. He plans to erect a statue even larger than Jesus’ statue in Sao Paolo, Brazil and about as high as the Statue of Liberty, serving as a beacon for sea travelers.

The center at Montemaria will have chapels, prayer gardens, Stations of the Cross, retreat houses, campsites, lodging houses, a center for the poor and even a replica of Mary house in Ephesus (ancient city in Turkey). The place is meant to draw pilgrims who want to renew their faith.

Could this be the Marian message at Medjugorje that the Philippines is to become a global spiritual center?

For more information about Fr. Fernando Suarez, please log on to

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