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Priest with brain tumor offers his suffering for victims of clergy sexual abuse


This Indianapolis priest reminds us to offer up hardships bravely and unite them with Christ’s Passion.

A tweet by a priest of the diocese of Indianapolis has moved and inspired people on social media and beyond.

Fr. John Hollowell, 40 years old, informed his Twitter followers that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor (one he will probably survive), and told them he would be offering his suffering for a very particular intention:

“Friends, I have been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Prognosis is very good. In 2018 I asked, if it be God’s Will, that I might be given some small share of the Cross to carry for victims of priestly abuse. I embrace this willingly.”

On his blog, he added:

“I would love to have a list of victims of priestly abuse that I could pray for each day. I would like to dedicate each day of this recovery/chemo/radiation to 5-10 victims, and I would like, if possible, to even write them a note letting them know of my prayers for them. IF YOU KNOW OF A PERSON OR YOU ARE A VICTIM YOURSELF, with the victim’s permission, please send me the name and, if possible, a mailing address so that I can send them a note, that would be much appreciated.”

He also provided his email address so he could receive messages from victims or friends of victims so he could pray for them and contact them directly.

In the blog post, he tells his readers that he was scheduled for brain surgery to remove the tumor on March 13. Doctors have indicated he could potentially be back to normal in six weeks, although depending on the exact nature of the tumor, he may need radiation and chemotherapy. Currently, Fr. Hollowell says, they are optimistic that treatment won’t need to be very aggressive, because the tumor hasn’t changed significantly in recent months.

The response Fr. Hollowell has received has been tremendous. “The social media outpouring has been phenomenal. I feel like I’m riding the wave, like a surfer, of everyone’s prayers, just being totally supported and moved forward in a way that I know it’s grace,” he told Our Sunday Visitor.

During this time of Lent, Fr. Hollowell’s offering of his suffering can serve us as an example of how to join ourselves to the Passion of Christ, offering our own crosses—big or small—in reparation for our own sins and for the sins of the world.

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