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The Clergy and Religious
Specialty Group


Sister Betty Igo, SFP, M Ed, MS 
 

Sister Betty Igo's Growth Process

      I welcome the opportunity to look back on my spiritual journey to study how the Lord led me to a process of growth in the spiritual gifts and healing prayer.  These Gifts I have used within the Healing Ministry as a Franciscan Sister of the Poor as well in the Healing services helping out as a member of ACT.      

      I had a mother who showed me that prayer is not just talking with God but listening as well. Early on my favorite place was an apple tree on our property where I lodged on a large branch in an effort to be alone to talk with and listen to the sense of God that I found when being alone and quiet with him.  So with the Lord’s guidance, as a child I began to try to figure out what inclinations were from Him and which were avoiding His will. When my family moved from that property I was 8 years old.  I remember my mother saying that I cried for days over leaving that old apple tree. In my child’s mind, that tree had become a special place where I could find and listen with God.  I felt His Presence there. As I grew older I realized that God didn't need the apple tree to be present in my life.    

      My parish school, St Therese in Southgate, KY was blessed with excellent loving teachers, the Benedictine Sisters.  They taught us early on how to appreciate the Liturgy encouraging us to Daily Mass and Communion.  I learned how to offer myself with Jesus as He offered Himself on the altar to the Father.  That liturgy became an important part of my day in my call to be a Eucharistic Christian.  I learned how to enter into the healing power of the Eucharist which I still share with other Eucharistic Christians via my workshops.    

      When I was in the grade 4 (1941) I longed for the presence an older sister would bring. I was talking to the Lord about that one day when I felt inner encouragement to turn to St Therese of Lisieux.   Since then I have felt her hand on my life deepening my desire to help others who are in emotional pain, putting emphasis on helping them to seek their own and other's good.    

      When I was in the grade 6 (1943), I received the Sacrament of Confirmation which for me was a deep experience of the Holy Spirit.  After Confirmation, I began making up songs that I sang in funny syllables.  My mother noticing that I found joy doing this, did not discourage me, but wisely counseled that I not do it outside our home because other children may think me strange. I learned to sing these inspired syllables within my heart without moving my lips as time went on.  I still engage in doing this whenever I am listening to others in pain as it seemed to release wisdom plus I think Jesus likes it.  It wasn't until I joined the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in 1970 that I learned that form of praying was called “Tongues.”  I also learned from experience that the Gifts of the Spirit that I received at Confirmation needed an understanding supportive Community to mature and come forth.     

      While still in grade school I received an inner call to dedicate my life to Jesus as a religious.  The Benedictine Sisters who taught me, sensing a potential Benedictine vocation, offered me a scholarship to their academically challenging High School Academy. They taught me how to study and get the most out of education. It was there in their Convent Chapel that I discerned clearly that, though I was to be a Sister, it was not a call to be a Benedictine Sister.     

       Looking back, I now understand how important it was to follow that change in discernment.  The Benedictines have a strong call to Community and sharing the Liturgy together. I realize that if I had not followed that guidance to leave the Benedictines and join another religious group, the fulfillment of my later call to travel throughout the US and Canada witnessing to the need for balance in the emerging field of inner healing would not have happened. The Holy Spirit knew that Charismatic Leaders would be asking me to present Workshops, Retreats and Conferences throughout the US and Canada. This could not have happened if I had entered the Benedictine Sisters because extended travel would not have been possible due to their strong call to stability.

      The Benedictines, thinking that perhaps it was teaching that wasn't of interest to me, introduced me to the hospital ministry by helping me get a job in a hospital of their Franciscan friends.  Again in this kindness on their part, I see God’s way of introducing me to the Community I was eventually called to join, the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor. It was in this community's St Clare's chapel that I seemed to hear that same inner voice I had heard in the Benedictine chapel, only this time it was saying: “This is the Community I want you to join.”    

      In light of this inner encouragement, I investigated the charism of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor and found that they were called to “Heal the Wounds of Christ” in His people.  I felt drawn to that ministry. I see the inner leading of the Lord at work again, for it was this very charism that moved my Community’s leaders in 1973 to grant me permission to work full time in the Inner Healing Ministry.    

      How did the Lord form me for my future ministry? Let’s continue to look at His guidance at work.    

      I entered the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor in 1948. After initial religious formation, I was sent to college to study for Social Work and while studying I was assigned to work part time at Catholic Charities.  Later the Community decided they needed Medical Technologists so I was sent to the University of Dayton, graduating in 1959 with a B. S. in Medical Technology. This was followed by various positions as a Laboratory Supervisor in several of our hospitals around the country. In our larger hospitals, I began to sense my need to learn more about the field of Education and Counseling in order to better help people and so asked to work part time on a Masters in Education with an emphasis on Counseling.    

      I graduated with a Masters in this field from Xavier University in 1968. By then, our Community needed help in the Vocational Office so I was asked to leave the Medical Lab and take on that role.  I began a deeper study of theology to do that job better and did lots of work in religious education.  In 1970 I found myself being sent to Detroit to answer an urgent call from a Bishop for a Catholic High School with a serious need for religion teachers.  Many of the students were children of auto executive parents.  They had many psychological and religious needs; unfortunately many were on drugs.  This urgent need to reach these resistant teens pulled me out of my head and sent me on my knees beseeching the Lord for help.  Everything we in the religion department tried seemed to be failing to meet the desperate needs of these students.  It was then that the Lord introduced me to the Detroit Catholic Charismatic Renewal.  I recognized within that renewal much of the wisdom that the Lord had taught me in my youth.  I spent hours at night beseeching God for help for those disturbed teens.  During the day, I began praying in tongues silently in my heart while teaching. My students began responding more and more. I noticed that the more I stepped back and let the Holy Spirit in, even changing my lesson plans, the more powerfully the Spirit was set free in our midst.  There was more response from the students and good fruits began to follow. I relearned how to submit my professional skills to the Holy Spirit and follow His lead.    

      While in Brooklyn attending a Committee meeting I was at prayer in our Generalate Chapel one evening and there I experienced another one of those inner calls to a change of Ministry. Later I realized that at this time another Sister at prayer in that same chapel heard what I thought I alone was receiving from Blessed Frances Schervier, the Foundress of our Community.     

      I was hearing a call to ask my Superior if I could come to New York and be released full time to work in the field of Inner Healing.  Blessed Frances pointed out that it was important that I be obedient and work for balance in that field.  When the other Sister who was also in prayer in that chapel came over to me and repeated word for word what I had just heard, I realized it was not my imagination. I knew then I had to ask to be released from teaching at the High School in Detroit.  The other Sister offered to see the Superior General with me and we both told her what was requested.    

      After the General Council prayed and discerned the request, I was released from teaching and came to New York in 1970 in order to continue in prayer to find out what the Lord really wanted me to do.  That was the beginning of working in the field of Inner Healing and presenting workshops, retreats, etc.  The main emphasis centered on training others to open to receive and minister Inner Healing.     

      Perhaps, you would be interested in sampling something of the way I open to God's healing presence for a person.     

      When I sense the Lord is calling me to work with a person, I wait for them to voice that need to me or in a prayer service to appear in the ministry line.  If they are agreeable, I usually lead them in a simple prayer that asks the Lord to open all the doors within them and outside of them that He (the Lord) wants open.  I also lead them to ask that the doors within and without that need to be closed remain closed and that they remain in His perfect Will. Together we invite the Lord in to be Master of our prayer time.  I hope that they will eventually learn that prayer and make it their own because it continually invites Jesus to be Lord of their life and healing.    

      As I listen, I image what the person is saying going right up into the Lord’s hands and stay focused intently for His leads on what to do next.  I find that He is faithful and I can always count on the gifts I need in the moment to be there whether I am working with one person or hundreds of people.  I feel that my main job is to tune obediently to the manner, timing and intensity in the event the Holy Spirit wants me to open to whatever Word of Knowledge, Prophecy, inspired image, etc. is appropriate.  Since I believe that it is in those three areas of manner, timing and intensity that we are apt to make most of our mistakes in the use of His inspired gifts, I stay in a listening mode.  Take timing, for instance.  There are insights that are given to be held before Him in prayer whereas there are other insights that are meant to be shared with the person in that moment.  It can be tricky to discern which is which at times. Again, it may be inappropriate at times to open with a spoken prayer but to me it is never inappropriate to engage in silent prayer as I listen. This is where I have found my gift of imaging to be a great help for I found that I can listen well and image at the same time.  In moments of silence between the client and myself, I can silently pray in tongues in my heart without moving my lips encouraging the Holy Spirit to be free in our midst. Now that I am 78 years of age I have had many years of experience in listening and silent prayer. When I was younger, I think I sometimes acted too quickly-- Lord, have mercy!    

      The Lord was teaching me much about Generational Healing in the early 70’s and I was teaching others through the “Healing the Generations Workshops.” In the course of this I met and worked with the Linn Brothers who in turn told me about ACT and paid my way to my first Conference in Milwaukee (1976).  It was at ACT that I met Doug Schoeninger and Bill Carr.  At that Conference I shared with them some of what I had learned in the area of Generational Healing and we had some serious prayer.  The result of this was they invited me to come to the Institute for Christian Healing in Narberth, Pennsylvania, in order to share more. Thus began an Amtrak ride down to Philadelphia from New York each week.  We had powerful prayer sessions with each other and eventually I left the New York Charismatic Healing Ministry to help out with the Institute for Christian Healing’s ministry in the Philadelphia area.    

      The Lord continued to lead me and calls kept coming in from various parts of the US and Canada.  In time, I saw that I was meant to be part time at the Institute and the rest of the time on the road spreading His message of Healing. [1] I felt a call to help raise up and encourage more leaders in the areas in which I was called to minister. Everywhere I visited, I spoke of ACT and how God wanted to work through that organization.    

      After years of ministry, in 1993, I asked my Franciscan Community if I could go back to school to update and hopefully take courses more centered on the Healing Prayer Therapy in which I was now engaged.  In 1995 I graduated from Neumann University with a Masters in Pastoral Counseling.  I think that the main thing I quietly learned from that experience was that the Healing Prayer Counseling the Lord had taught me was much less painful and more effective for the clients, who were open to Healing Prayer, than the methods proposed professionally without prayer.  During my internship at Catholic Charities I had to promise to use “only standard methods” with the clients and report if I slipped into prayer.  I tell you that internship did wind up teaching me that things go better with Jesus.    

      The job I had with Catholic Charities disappeared when Managed Care Government contracts changed to insist on only recognizing a Masters in Social Work for financial remuneration and not a Masters in Pastoral Counseling (1996).  On my part, I felt relieved for I was again set free to freely follow the Holy Spirit wherever He led while engaging in the Franciscan Healing Ministry. Imperfect as I am, I hope to follow that call to strive to be obedient to the call of the Holy Spirit until the day I die and beyond.

Sister Betty Igo, SFP, M Ed, MS 

[1]If interested in seeing my experience of Catholic traditions in Inner Healing please see my article: Sister Betty Igo, SFP, MS, M Ed, “Principles of Inner Healing,” Journal of Christian Healing, vol. 23, no. 2 (Fall/Winter, 2007), 7 pp. in www.ACTheals.org. Click here to download this article.

For more information, please contact: 
Clergy and Religious Chair
Sister Betty Igo, SFP, M Ed, MS


 

 
 
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