St. Dominic parishioner forming ‘deliverance’ ministry
July 12th, 2016
By Christina Gray
Despite a committed and active faith life, St. Dominic parishioner Chris Smith suffered silently during a long estrangement from her adult daughter.
In 2014 she found unexpected freedom from the tyranny of her emotions and eventual reconciliation with her child through a lay prayer ministry that helps break the power of “spiritual bondage” in the lives of believers. With the blessing of Dominican Father Michael Hurley, pastor, Smith is working to coordinate a similar ministry at St. Dominic called Unbound: Freedom in Christ by hosting a workshop July 23 at St. Dominic parish hall in San Francisco.
Unbound has helped Smith and other Christians root out resistance and ingrained patterns of thinking and behaving that limit a free response to the love of Jesus Christ and block us from living the full life.
“Priests often hear the voice of pain and confusion in the course of their pastoral ministry,” said Father Hurley. “The Unbound movement is a pastoral approach to seeking freedom in Christ by way of a process of deliverance rooted in the sacraments, nourished by prayer and directed toward living in the vitality of the Spirit.”
The Unbound ministry was founded by a Catholic couple, Neil and Janet Lozano, based on Neil’s book “Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverance.” According to its website, the mission of the ministry is to equip Christian clergy and laypeople around the world to help people take hold of the freedom that they have been given in Jesus Christ, and then help others do the same.
“I felt lighter, freer, cleaner, and clearer than ever before,” Smith told Catholic San Francisco.
After her experience she went through training to serve as a lay member of the ministry. “What I experienced made me want to dedicate the rest of my life to helping other believers, especially Catholics, experience freedom in Christ.”
Smith said her own experience taught her that even good Christians can experience oppression of the spirit through negative influences which can manifest in harmful patterns of behavior or thinking, such as addictions, victimization, depression, extreme negativity, promiscuity, rage, marital strife, perversions – virtually any bondage caused by an “unclean spirit.”
“God wants us to be free of whatever enslaves us,” she said. “It is for that freedom that Christ set us free.”
Smith said she prefers the words “spiritual cleansing” to “deliverance” which evokes the casting out of evil spirits. She stressed that the Unbound ministry deals with influences or spiritual “oppression” but not with demonic possession,” she said. Exorcisms are performed by Catholic priests.
Ministers trained in the Unbound model use a step-by-step approach based on five keys: repentance and faith, forgiveness, renunciation, authority and the father’s blessing. Two ministers pray privately with the individual receiving prayer to set people free or to start that process.
Smith stressed that the ministers are instruments or intercessors in the process, not the healers themselves.
“The important thing to remember is that Jesus and the Holy Spirit do the work of freeing and healing,” she said. “The ministers are simply loving, accepting and willing instruments.”
For more information about the July 23 meeting at St. Dominic, call (415) 529-4622 or visit email@example.com.
From July 14, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.