Speaker Melissa Foley leads Lenten talk, prayer for women at St. John Neumann
By Gabrielle Nolan
“Am I worth dying for?”
Women of the diocese were presented with this question at a Lenten evening of reflection at St. John Neumann Church in Farragut on Mar. 31.
Nearly 100 women gathered inside the church for a talk, worship music, and adoration.
The talk was given by guest speaker Melissa Foley, a retreat director, prayer minister, and founder of the healing ministry Loved Already.
“We are so excited to bring Melissa Foley to the Diocese of Knoxville to share with women her charism of healing,” said Carolyn Krings, a parishioner at St. John Neumann and a member of Regnum Christi, the group that organized the event.
“This evening is happening because of our own acknowledgment of heavy burdens being carried ourselves and by women over the years,” Mrs. Krings said. “It seems to have gotten heavier for many of us through the pandemic. I believe we need to be released from the chains we have been harboring.”
Mrs. Foley is not a counselor or health professional, but rather a trained inner healing minister. She was trained at the John Paul II Healing Center in Tallahassee, Fla., as well as Resurrected Life Ministries in Atlanta. She has also appeared on the global Catholic broadcasting network EWTN.
Her resources include a book, podcast, events, and free one-on-one prayer sessions.
Based out of Cumming, Ga., Mrs. Foley lives with her husband and three children.
“I pray with people,” she said. “It’s pretty much what I spend my time doing, whether people come to my house, or I meet them via Zoom. I meet people all over the world every day, and I’m invited into places in their lives, in their hearts, that might be painful for them.”
“I have been praying for you since I was invited,” Mrs. Foley said at the beginning of her talk.
“It’s exciting to be here because tonight we’re going to talk about am I worth dying for? So, what I’d like to do is to take you with me into a few of these healing stories, the things that I see every day,” Mrs. Foley said.
“I want to give you a glimpse into how God loves. You’re probably going to learn some new truths about who God is. It also might expose some things that you believed about God that are not true.”
Through various stories of working with different clients, Mrs. Foley discussed three lies that many people often fall prey to.
Lie No. 1: God doesn’t know me.
A young woman came to a prayer session to discuss a scary event in her life that led to post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. She felt bound by her experience and regularly froze in her actions until she experienced a profound healing.
“The truth comes from Psalm 139:1… ‘You search me, Lord, and you know me.’ That’s the truth,” Mrs. Foley said. “So, God created you and knows and allows you to choose Him, OK, but at the same time He calls you back.”
She encouraged the women to reflect on where God is present in their daily scenarios.
“He knows you. He knows every second of every day that you’ve been alive, He’s been with you. He knows the people, the places, the dates, the time, the scenarios, how you felt, and how He felt about you,” she continued.
Lie No. 2: God won’t be there when I need Him.
In a prayer session with a young man, he admitted that Jesus was not present in his interior place of prayer, a place he described as a cabin in the woods. Yet, during the session, he realized someone was knocking at the door. It was Jesus, waiting out in the rain and waiting for the man to let Him into his heart.
Mrs. Foley recited a verse from the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.”
“You have to open the door,” she said. “He’s not going to barge into your situation.”
“Not only does He desire to be invited, but He actually needs to because of our freedom,” she continued. “He won’t go places that we tell Him not to go in our hearts. How would your life change if you knew that Jesus was waiting on you? Where in your life right now is He on the other side of the door?”
Lie No. 3: God can’t forgive me.
“I personally used to believe that there was some kind of scale that God weighs sin on,” Mrs. Foley shared. “That some sins drastically outweighed others, like some sins were harder for God to forgive. Well, God decided to give me a whole big lesson on how He forgives.”
Mrs. Foley shared a story of how she experienced three back-to-back prayer sessions with clients who all struggled with the same sin.
“I remember that first session, I witnessed the person crying out to God for forgiveness for an atrocious sin,” she said. “What I saw changed my heart forever. I watched God the Father run to this person. I remember being shocked at how effortless God forgives.”
And that bountiful love and forgiveness happened in the next two sessions as well.
“The Father knows your story, he knows your unmet needs, your wounds, the areas that you need forgiveness for,” Mrs. Foley said. “You know, the thing is, we feel shameful or filthy, and that just deters us from going to the Father, but it makes Him come running! So, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Although God the Father recognizes our sin, He sees His child first. At all times, He sees you as His child first.”
The evening concluded with adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, led by Deacon John Krepps from St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Lenoir City.
Deacon Krepps read the story of the hemorrhaging woman from Mark’s Gospel. When the woman touched Jesus’ cloak, she was cured of her affliction.
Deacon Krepps invited each of the women to come forward and kneel before the Eucharist to touch the humeral veil surrounding the monstrance and present their needs to Jesus.
“When priests or deacons bless the people with the monstrance, they cover their hands with the ends of the veil so that their hands do not touch the monstrance as a mark of respect for the sacred vessel and as an indication that it is Jesus present in the Eucharistic species who blesses the people and not the minister,” Deacon Krepps said.
Worship music resounded through the church as nearly every woman in attendance stood in line to approach the monstrance.
“I just loved the personal encounter with Jesus and just how intimate it felt to be able to go up and bow in front of him,” said Kodi Schutte-Rogers, a parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle.
“It’s not something we get to do every day, and I don’t get to adoration often because I work and I have a busy life, and so just to be able to have that experience tonight was just very impactful for me,” she said.
For many of the women in attendance, it was their first exposure to Mrs. Foley’s ministry.
“I was curious about today, and I’m so happy that I came,” said Zulay Pickering, a parishioner at All Saints in Knoxville who also teaches Spanish at St. John Neumann School.
“I was kind of tired, I wanted to go home, and I was like, no let me just peek,” Mrs. Pickering shared. “Then I went over to Seton Hall, and there were so many people. It was like, whoa, this is bigger than I thought.”
“When I came in the church, I was like, I feel in heaven! … I thought everything fitting together was phenomenal,” Mrs. Pickering said, noting that Mrs. Foley’s work “really is incredible.”
For Mrs. Foley, her impression of all the women in attendance was that they were beautiful and open-minded.
“I think that was what made it so grace-filled, because [God] can go where the doors are opened,” Mrs. Foley said. “So, it was, I think, a really grace-filled moment, and I feel like the women encountered Him. It felt like they just really met Jesus, like met Him in the Eucharist. So, that makes me happy, always.”
“My hope always is for Our Lord to heal. There’s actually very little that I do,” Mrs. Foley continued while laughing.
“And so really, all my hope falls onto Him and, what He did tonight for each one of those women, I mean we will never know,” she said. “And they may not even ever know until they’re in heaven someday. But the point is, really, not necessarily for us to know but to have faith, to know that He is absolutely at work.”
To learn more about Melissa Foley and her ministry, visit LovedAlready.com.