Immaculate Heart Radio, cancer shrine celebrate three years of healing

Immaculate Heart Radio, cancer shrine celebrate three years of healing

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Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted leads prayer before the Blessed Sacrament Nov. 10 at Christ the King Parish in Mesa. The eucharistic adoration was part of a joint anniversary celebration for Immaculate Heart Radio and the St. Peregrine Cancer Shrine. Michael Dixon, host of the Diocese of Phoenix’s “The Bishop’s Hour,” guides radio listeners through adoration from behind a makeshift studio window. (Ambria Hammel/THE CATHOLIC SUN)

MESA — Immaculate Heart Radio 1310 AM offers 24-hour programming that foments the Catholic faith. The St. Peregrine Cancer Shrine offers perpetual adoration for Catholics and helps the community deal with cancer.

Together, the two entities celebrated their third anniversaries at Christ the King Parish earlier this month.

The shrine was built as an extension of the church, but serves the diocese and those of other faiths. The radio station’s tower, also in Mesa, broadcast the festivities.

Michael Dixon, who hosts the Diocese of Phoenix’s “The Bishop’s Hour” program, provided the audio commentary. The Nov. 10 anniversary celebration included live music by Doug Slater, guided adoration with Michael John Poirier and tours of the shrine.

“If you’re healed of physical disease you’re still going to die. But if you’re spiritually healed, that is the best gift we can possibly have,” Karen Greifzu said during the tour.

Prayer petitions and prayers of gratitude in the shrine’s guestbook documented both kinds of healing. A recent entry expressed gratitude for still being in remission of small cell lung cancer. Another was in thanksgiving for a healthy great nephew.

Some patients and their loved ones who visit the shrine are still engrossed in battle. If requested, a patient’s first name and type of cancer can be added to a prayer wall. People who commit to one hour of eucharistic adoration take a card and pray individually for each patient. The names are rotated every two to three weeks.

A visitor signed in almost daily writing “por la salud de me hijo,” or “for the health of my son” in the guestbook. One family lost a son in February and recently had a mom admitted and diagnosed with cancer.

The guestbook, which had 15 entries the day of the anniversary celebration and more than 130 in the first 10 days of November, also contained comments like “inspirational” and “beautiful.” One visitor wrote of a man trying to start his life over without drugs and find a job.

On a second tour of the shrine, Fr. Steve Kunkel, pastor at Christ the King, shared a story about St. Padre Pio. He’s one of a handful of saints depicted in stained glass windows. He said Padre Pio had a gift of knowing people’s mortal sins.

“He reminds us that the greatest healing is our soul and the forgiveness of sin,” Fr. Kunkel said.

Earlier, during the parish’s regular vigil Mass, he touched on the beauty and challenge of making a sacrificial gift. Fr. Kunkel said it’s a beautiful thing to do, especially when the gift supports the Church and its ministries. He noted Immaculate Heart Radio, which will hold a pledge drive in December.

The St. Peregrine Cancer Shrine also needs ongoing support. It costs $100 per day to operate. Since August, visitors have come from all over the Valley — though largely east side. Visitors also came from North Dakota, Sri Lanka and Nova Scotia.

The parish is working with diocesan leadership to formally make the shrine a diocesan operation. An endowment fund started last year already has $139,000 and proceeds from the annual golf tournament also support efforts.

More than 170 people braved cooler fall temperatures for fiesta-like activities during the dual anniversary celebration and brief appearances from Immaculate Heart Radio staff. They dropped to their knees when Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted brought out the Blessed Sacrament and followed his procession into the church for adoration.

“So great is the divine love in You that you became littler and littler,” the bishop said of Christ. “Your death is victory and this victory is extended to every person who has the humility to adore you.”

He talked about the power of God’s love that’s especially present during suffering and the power of faith, which leads to hope. That hope can help those struggling with cancer, the bishop said, and especially those struggling with sin, the worst possible form of “cancer.”

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