Jesus the Healer” (“Jesus el Sanador”) was the timely theme of opening keynote addresses both in English and Spanish at the Sept. 28 New York Catholic Bible Summit. The 10th annual daylong event at Cathedral High School in Manhattan featured parallel workshops in both languages and closed with a reflective Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan.
The English language keynoter, Dr. Mary Healy, is a professor of Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and was appointed by Pope Francis as one of the first three women to serve on the Pontifical Biblical Commission. In her talk, she said the contemporary culture in which tens of millions of baptized Catholics and other Christians have walked away and no longer have any connection to the Church has created a “tsunami of secularism.”
“The absence of God has left an inner void, a spiritual vacuum that people fill with all kinds of spiritual counterfeits,” she said. A culture of narcissism has contributed to the breakdown in relationships and families, led to addictions and suicides and ultimately a culture of death.
Dr. Healy said this is a time of “spiritual orphanhood” when people have lost touch with the idea of a Heavenly Father. It is a time when “every Catholic needs to rediscover the healing power of Jesus Christ, which is an intrinsic part of the Bible,” she added.
Beginning with Exodus, Dr. Healy traced God’s promises and acts of healing throughout the Bible. She said the healings performed by Jesus are an embodiment of the Gospel and a visible manifestation of His message. “Jesus came to heal the deepest wound of all, which is sin,” she said.
Dr. Healy said Jesus healed all who asked and desires to heal far more often than we think. “Jesus asks for faith and engages us in our own healing. Healing is not passive,” she said.
“Healing may be delayed, even until the Resurrection on the last day, but it is not refused,” she added.
David Eduardo Bisono delivered the Spanish keynote. He is director of the Hispanic Ministry of the Claretian Missionaries in Chicago and a member of the national team of Charismatic Renewal.
Bisono told Catholic New York, “The Hispanic community and the Church as a whole are seeking healing. It’s a topic that should be emphasized not just academically, but practically.”
“We talk about healing, but what would it look like in our city?” he asked. “We are called into participation with Jesus as healers.”
Bisono said we can equip the Body of Christ to be healthy by helping people to become more “Bible proficient” and demonstrate practical applications of the Bible’s instructions.
In keeping with the summit’s theme, “The Bible in a Time for Healing,” workshops addressed “Healing through Dialogue: What Our Church Needs” and “Healing in the Family.” Speakers also offered specific guidance in workshops on “How to Prepare For and Run a Fruitful Bible Study” and “Using FORMED for Bible Study.” FORMED is a faith formation tool available for free to parishioners throughout the archdiocese.
Dr. Colt Anderson, professor of Christian Spirituality in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University, gave a workshop on “Leading in Brokenness: Scripture as a Resource for Continual Conversion.” He said, “God is the God of the brokenhearted and being brokenhearted is a way to talk abut humility.”
“Humility is not about being a doormat. It promotes a sense of gratitude and joy” and is essential for leadership, evangelization, loving relationships and unity in the Church, he said. It is empowering and makes the Christian community possible, he added.
Reflecting on the event, Elizabeth Guevara de Gonzalez, interim director of the Adult Faith Formation Office of the archdiocese said, “The diverse group of speakers today gave us many perspectives on how the Scripture can come alive. Their different voices allow people to find new tools for work in their parishes.”
The summit was sponsored by the Adult Faith Formation Office and the American Bible Society. Throughout the day, participants took the opportunity to venerate relics of St. Damien de Veuster and St. Marianne Cope, both of whom served and died in Hawaii. The relics were on tour from the Diocese of Honolulu.