By Joyce Voss
Our pastor Father Killian was a seminarian classmate of Father Stu Long. On several occasions, he has shared his memories of Stu with the congregation and also arranged for us to view the movie FATHER STU, a biographical drama of his life starring Mark Wahlberg as Stu Long, at a local theater. On the first Sunday in March a booklet, “Mercy for Little Souls,” was offered to parishioners.
It related to the last years of Stu’s life, and how he dealt with pain and brought hope to many. Forty reflections within it, especially by St. Faustina, Pope Francis, and Mother Teresa, plus people who knew Stu, weave together to show how this man lived his passion for Christ through his redemptive suffering. In spite of his suffering, Stu’s irrepressible bent for shenanigans was evident while living in the Big Sky Nursing Home in the last years of his life. He gave visiting children drag-strip rides on his wheelchair down the corridors of the nursing home and was not beyond playing bumper cars with another like-minded chair-bound patient.
On March 13, 2023, a Healing Mass and Mission were held at St. Elizabeth Seton Church, co-celebrated by Father Killian and Father John. Our Mission theme was the Passion of Father Stu. Father Killian was in the Holy Land when he heard of Stu’s death and sadly was not able to make it back in time for the funeral. Among the pictures Father Killian shared were headshots of Stu that he used while trying to make it in Hollywood, a photo of Stu’s parents, and a shot of Stu’s headstone on a snowy January day. Father then related his own personal relationship with Stu.
The Healing anointing followed our Mission homily. About two hundred attendees processed patiently up the aisles for this part of the service. As the hands were anointed, Father said, “May the Lord Who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.” Upon anointing of our heads, the words were, “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in His love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit.”
At the end of Mass, an invitation was extended for further healing prayer available in the corners of the church offered by members of the Holy Spirit Ministry.
Father Stu’s life story is a roller coaster ride. He was a man who was argumentative, determined, and a risk-taker, who ultimately heard his call from God. He said his sickness was a gift; it brought him humility. He believed there was power in suffering. Stu was able to visit Lourdes and, of course, was hoping for a miracle. That did not happen, but what he was given was PEACE. He said it changed his life. If ever there was an example of redemptive suffering, it is Father Stu Long. It shows us that our God can work with anything we bring him, as long as we are open to his will.