Two noted Catholic speakers will be visiting the Rochester area in November.
Evangelist Jesus “Jesse” Romero will speak at a conference Nov. 10 from 5 to 9:30 p.m. and Nov. 11 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at St. Leo Parish, 167 Lake Ave., Hilton. Father Richard McAlear, a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate who has been sharing a message of hope, healing, love and peace to thousands since 1976, will be conducting healing Masses throughout the area Nov. 6-11.
St. Leo parishioner Kelly Guest said she used to listen to Romero on Catholic radio every Tuesday and Thursday as she drove her kids from preschool. When she saw him speak in person, she said she was so taken with his dynamic speaking style that she decided to bring him to her parish for a conference.
“He was phenomenal,” Guest said. “He was just dynamite.”
Romero, a California resident, is a retired Los Angeles deputy sheriff, a three-time world police-boxing champion and a two-time U.S.A. Kickboxing champion. He is a devoted husband and father, and is a frequent guest on radio and television programs including “Catholic Answers Live” and Eternal Word Television Network. He currently hosts “Reasons for Faith Live” on Eternal Word’s radio station.
Romero was set to leave the Catholic faith to become an evangelical Christian, but then he read the Gospels and experienced renewed faith, Guest said. Now he preaches nationwide.
“He will talk about how he came back, and tell them to be not afraid to be truly Catholic,” said Guest, the conference’s event coordinator.
Guest said she wants to show young people how to embrace their faith. She has invited several local youth groups to attend the conference, and she hopes Romero will inspire vocations among the youths.
“He’s very appealing to young people,” Guest said.
Having the conference at St. Leo on the saint’s feast day was a happy coincidence, she added.
Romero will be joined by two Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Father Glenn Sudano and 1987 Hilton High School graduate David Baetzold, who is now known as Father Anthony Baetzold. Music will be performed by local Christian pop band Faith on Fire.
Father Baetzold was ordained a priest May 14, 2005, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. He became interested in and joined the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, founded by Father Benedict Groeschel in the Bronx, after learning about the order from EWTN.
Romero’s visit will begin with a youth-oriented Mass Friday night, but all are welcome to attend. Space is limited to 500, and early registration is recommended. A limited number of $5 boxed lunches will be available; participants also may dine at local restaurants.
There is no charge for the conference, and a free-will offering will be taken. For details, e-mail Kel4truth@aol.com or call St. Leo at 585/392-2710. The weekend agenda and registration form is available at St. Leo or at St. John the Evangelist Religious Shop, 409 S. Union St., Spencerport.
Father McAlear, a Boston native, entered the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1960. After studying and being ordained in Rome, he returned to the U.S. and taught high school. He became involved in Catholic charismatic renewal and entered a healing ministry in 1976. His ministry and work have brought him to every part of the U.S., Asia, South America, Canada, Australia, New Guinea, Guatemala, Italy, France, Portugal and Scotland.
Marie Vasile, who is helping to publicize Father McAlear’s visit, said the priest’s annual visits to Rochester have been very popular, in part because he is both charismatic and humble.
“He will look into their eyes, and there’s a deep physical and emotional touching,” Vasile said. “People love to be touched, and there’s an intense delight, because he is so closely aligned with God.”
He is a popular pilgrimage director and has spoken throughout the country. He also is a member of the Association of Christian Therapists, a past director of Our Lady of Hope Center in Newburgh, N.Y., and the vocation director of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
During a healing Mass, the Eucharist is brought to the altar for exposition, prayer and adoration, Vasile said, and individuals are anointed and blessed as they come forward to pray.
“It’s a feeling of peace that people experience,” Vasile said. “It’s peace and gentle love and radiant joy.”
Masses will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 at St. Mark Church, 54 Kuhn Road, Greece; 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at St. Patrick Church, 46 Stanley St., Mount Morris; 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at St. Cecilia Church, 2732 Culver Road, Irondequoit; 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at St. Mary Church, 95 N. Main St., Canandaigua; 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at Church of the Holy Spirit Church, 1355 Hatch Road, Penfield; and a retreat day of teaching and renewal Nov. 11 at Holy Spirit.
Registration for the retreat day, which costs $20, begins at 9 a.m. The day ends at 5 p.m. with the celebration of the Eucharist. Retreatants may bring a brown-bag lunch, and beverages will be provided. For details, call Ann at 585/381-8577 or Carol at 585/381-8277, or visit www.FrMac.org.