Healing Of Priest Sought Through Special Mass
Published: November 27, 2003
ATLANTA—Hope and the face of Christ within suffering were the themes of a healing Mass held at the Cathedral of Christ the King Nov. 17 for Father Joseph Peek, 38.
Father Peek, who is suffering from leukemia, underwent a bone marrow transplant in early October. The healing Mass was arranged by Father Frank McNamee, pastor of St. Peter Chanel Church in Roswell, and Father John Shramko, parochial vicar at St. Peter Chanel. Archbishop John F. Donoghue was the celebrant.
The Mass began as the congregation, led by the Cathedral choir, sang “O Christ, the Healer.” Eighteen concelebrating priests, including Father Peek’s brother, Father Kevin Peek, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Decatur, processed into the church before the archbishop.
Father Joseph Peek came in from the side of the altar, wearing a surgical mask to protect himself from germs.
The readings were given by Father Peek’s sister Denise Jordan, and several members of the Peek family were in attendance, including his parents, Mary and Joseph.
The church was packed with friends and family offering support to the ailing priest.
In his homily, the archbishop said that life is full of joy and sorrow and all feel that strongly when a loved one is sick.
“Another time when we feel the depth of our passage, is when a loved one, a brother, a friend, bends too soon to mortality—to the power of sickness to stop us in our tracks,” he said. “And when we see this loved one under attack, we recoil—our anguish wells up from deep inside, and if we have faith, we respond naturally: we open our hands, and turn them towards Heaven, and we plead—for understanding, for mercy, for a little more time.”
“And why should we not do these things? Our Lord Himself has taught us to feel this way—to love what God has given us—to love life, and the joys that life awards us.”
The archbishop described how Jesus knew well that life cannot exist without death and that endings are a part of every life, including that of Jesus.
“And He let Himself be so pained, so hurt, that He could know what we know, what we feel—making it perfect within Himself, and giving us a perfect and final example of what life is, of what life must become. For life is joy and sorrow, life is sickness and health, and life, if fully lived, is the giving of itself.”
Archbishop Donoghue continued, “We know this paradox to be true. If we are good men and women, even as we pray for one another to live, even as we call upon the ancient ritual of anointing to impart health and healing and wholeness—even as we stand boldly before illness and debility, and seek life—every one of us, in our hearts, knows, that if the test were to come, we would want to show that we had learned the great lesson of life, as described by our Lord, ‘Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends.’”
Father Peek’s nephew and niece brought forward the gifts during the offertory, as the congregation sang “Lord, For Thy Tender Mercies’ Sake.”
Following Communion, Father Peek addressed the congregation.
His family, he said, has been a key source of support. And he has used his illness to strengthen his faith.
“There comes a point when you’re in your own bed, very alone, that you feel very alone. But that is the lie. It’s in those moments, that you thank the Lord for his grace, and you thank him that you are able to rest in his love,” he said.
He hopes to have his full strength back in six to nine months and asked people to especially pray for Jan. 17—“day 100.” Until then, he said, “I’m hiding out and lying low.”
“Thank you for your prayers. You, the faithful, my family, the church, help me, assist me. Even if I fall, your prayers continue to see me through.”
He also said that in any trial, people should “open yourselves to the Lord and accept it for the salvation of souls.”
Father Peek’s mother, Mary, said that they have received many phone calls and cards.
“I know all these prayers are keeping our spirits going,” she said. “We’re just simple people trying to pick up our daily crosses.”
Father Kevin Peek said that the Mass was a source of hope and peace.
“It was great to see the love and support of the diocese, to see the laity and clergy who came to support my brother,” he said. “It is awesome to see that spirit of prayer and to realize that is the real source of our life.”
After the Mass, however, Father Joseph Peek was admitted back to the hospital after developing a fever.
“He has a staph infection in his blood and some spots on his lungs that the doctors aren’t sure about,” Father Kevin Peek said. “So let people know we appreciate their continued prayers for my brother.”
Cards and letters may be sent to Father Joseph Peek, c/o Father Kevin Peek, 2560 Tilson Road, Decatur 30032.