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It all started as a kind of ‘burning bush’ experience - a fire that was ignited within me during a charismatic renewal (REO) retreat. The retreat was organized by a charismatic renewal prayer community. At the retreat I heard people praying in tongues which sounded to me like bees flying into the church and it evoked a sense of unease within me. At the same time it made me extremely curious, so I decided to attend some prayer meetings of the charismatic renewal community in my parish after the summer break was over. The first fruits of that experience was the fact that I began to sing. Prior to that, for the love of a particular song being sung, I used to refrain from singing. Now, although my singing is not even close to perfect, it is better than it has ever been in my life.


My having got acquainted with the charismatic renewal community resulted in my later participation in a retreat preached by a charismatic priest, Fr.James Manjackal, who comes from India.


I wanted to explore something that seemed so exotic to me. It was sheer curiosity that led me there. However, what I experienced there and then cannot be rejected or denied even by way of rational reasoning. The retreat lasted for three days; on the fourth day there was an open meeting. As it was Sunday, many Elblag inhabitants came along, treating the visit as their attendance of the Sunday Mass, and rightly so.


At the end of the first day of the retreat Fr.James said he could see healings taking place in the hall. He then began to enumerate various conditions like cancer, ulcers as well as addictions such as alcoholism, smoking, gambling. What is more, he was mentioning numbers of people: 25, 12, 8, 2; various health conditions and various numbers. Up until then I had hardly found it convincing, although I admit that I had heard some interesting things prior to that moment and so I remained interested. Suddenly, I felt as if something warm was being poured onto my head. Acting on an impulse, I lowered my head and touched my hair but there was nothing there. Still, it made me feel uneasy which disturbed my concentration. Right at that moment Fr.James was saying that he saw some head related problems being healed. I cannot recall the  details now but I remember him mentioning the Alzheimer’s disease, migraine headaches, etc. Just then I began to feel a warmth going through my leg. He went on calling out various names. The anxiety I was experiencing made me switch on my inner skeptic. My reasoning went like this: names like Ewa, Ania and Jan are known all over the world but when it comes to my name, I am sure it will not be mentioned here. There is no such name in the western world. At that moment I heard the words: “Jarek, you are also healed”. I was dumbfounded.


I still do not know what could have happened to my head at that time. Perhaps I should forget the Alzheimer’s. However, when it comes to my leg…Well, I had been suffering for years due to my leg getting twisted around. I used to disturb Ela’s sleep because, as she called it, “my legs kept wiggling”. There had been times when I was so restless at night that I had to keep turning over with my whole body. Ever since that retreat I have had no more problems even though every now and then, at times of increased anxiety or after having achieved some victory over evil, I can feel something which I would call a phantom pain. However, I believe it is only my anxiety which I deal with by praying.


The following day of the retreat I talked with several people about my experiences. I was really  put off by some unconditional expressions of delight. I am not like that. Instead, I decided to ponder more deeply on the subject of charismatic healings which are the work of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this priest was indeed some “man jackal” or an Egyptian god from among the bad ones - as I had read on some discussion forum. However, the day turned out to be rich in many simple discoveries in the domain of “struggle between good and evil”. In the evening I heard the words: “Jarek, don’t doubt; you too have been granted the grace of healing”. That was actually one of the last sentences spoken before the end of the retreat. After the prayer for healing had been completed and some more reflections presented by Fr.James, the retreat practically ended. Later on some people gave testimonies of their experiences, followed by more singing and we were off on our way home.


On the one hand,  I was very happy as it was no problem for me to have my aches and pains taken away. I have no problem with accepting such Will of God. On the other hand, though, I was in despair as I neither knew what had happened to me, nor could I deny it. I then began to wonder if I were not losing my mind; whether I was not losing a  healthy distance towards reality. I was simply going through a process of mourning a loss because I knew that nothing would ever be the same any more. I knew that yet again I experienced God in my life and yet again I did not want it ever to end. I also realized that in order for it to continue, I had to get involved.


Fr.James told us what to do in order not to lose what had happened to us in the retreat. He listed several things: individual prayer, family prayer, reading the Bible, belonging to some church community and, if possible, attending a Holy Mass daily. At the very end he said something which absolutely captivated me: “You may think I am telling you something new. No, I am not saying anything new; the only thing is that I regularly read the Catechism where all this is written. You do not read the Catechism, so it appears to you that you are hearing something new”.


At that very moment I knew that I had just entered the Catholic Church and that nothing could ever take me away from it.

18/February/2011 04:50:36 pm
How often do you pray?

"Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You!"

John 21, 17


Father James's retreat in Slavkov u Brna (South of


Tommy's story

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