By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator 

First in a series of two article

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Praise and worship was a big part of a Day of Healing, sponsored by the Office of Charismatic Renewal of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, on Aug. 10 at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Baton Rouge.  Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator  

 

Tears spilled and hands and voices were lifted in praise and gratitude as people heard two powerful testimonies of the Holy Spirit’s ability to renew mind, body and spirit at a Day of Healing on Aug. 10 at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Baton Rouge.  

Danny Loar spoke about the different levels of healing he experienced from Parkinson’s disease.  

Loar, who retired as executive director of Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops several years ago after serving there for 13 years, returned to his early career life as a Catholic educator and taught at St. Theresa of Avila School in Gonzales. Despite being physically fit, he abruptly quit because he was fatigued.  

Two months later he had fallen and was laying on the kitchen floor until his wife, Dotty, came home about two hours later. Alarmed, they quickly got an appointment with a neurologist, who diagnosed him with Parkinson’s disease.  

“Dr. (Dariusz) Gawronski, who had his medical degrees from the University of Warsaw in Poland, said that I could still have 20 years of life left in me, just like St. Pope John Paul II did after he got the disease,” Loar said. “However, that is a life of slow, but sure, decline in quality of life, comfort and peace of mind, not only for yourself, but for your loves ones, especially your wife. Dotty was a champion throughout my trauma with Parkinson’s disease, and I did indeed struggle with depression in the early part of the four years I had Parkinson’s.  

“We never gave up in despair, but came to a necessary acceptance of what the future would hold: a slow, decline, both physically and mentally.”  

Fatigue would set in without warning, and it would last from four hours to days. Loar might be fine for a week and then it would return with an unpredictable pattern of “on” and “off” days.  

“Additionally, depending on the day, I would get different combinations of cognitive problems, such as fuzzy brain, not being able to think clearly, along with memory loss, sharp stomach pains, hand tremors and nausea.  

“While sleeping I would sometimes flail and kick in my sleep, not waking up, not knowing I did it upon awakening,” Loar said.  

A person does not die directly from Parkinson’s, rather they die from the complications it causes, according to Loar. Muscle constrictions can result in aspiration pneumonia, a life threatening infection of the lungs. Brain cells that produce dopamine, which is important in controlling muscle movement, die off. 

He took medication but knew it was a way to alleviate some of the symptoms, some of the time.  

“Frankly, it’s an awful way to live … Dotty and I came to call it ‘Parky’ in order to delegitimize it in our minds, to mock it, not let the disease completely take over our lives emotionally,” Loar said. 

The Loars, who have been married for 48 years, prayed hard for dealing with “Parky.”  

“And finally it came to ‘Okay Lord, you are not healing me now, but thy will be done.’ We came to accept it, but not really. We always held onto the theological virtue of hope,” Loar said.  

Loar took a class at the YMCA called “Rock Steady,” a non-contact class for Parkinson’s patients which pushes them physically and mentally.  

“I strongly recommend the course to anyone who has ‘Parky.’ It made me feel a little better,” said Loar stretching out the word little.  

Then “boom,” said Loar, punctually and loudly. “Then out of the blue, on July 2, 2018 what I now call my Independence Day of my Parkinson’s Disease, symptoms completely, totally and absolutely left me, and have never returned, not even for a moment. Praise God, I felt like Jesus had given me the uppercut that completely knocked me out.  

“When I went to Dr. Gawronski he was very happy for me, but had no explanation how this happened. He even sent me to another specialist at the Neuromedical Center (in Baton Rouge) to double-check me. She too could not explain it.”  

“So I am officially Parkinson’s free. Hallelujah,” said Loar, as applause reverberated around the room.  

But that was only the physical part of Loar’s healing.  

“What I am saying is that I have not only been healed physically, but healed emotionally, intellectually and spiritually,” he said.  

A month after his physical healing, Loar said he went from being an introvert to an extrovert and now talks to “anybody about anything, for an hour at a time.”  

Two months after his healing, he received a spiritual healing at the regular Tuesday night Charismatic Renewal prayer meeting at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Baton Rouge.  

“Out of the blue my prayer tongue radically changed. There was a power and intensity I had never experienced before. I also experienced a rediscovery and love of Scripture, where I just couldn’t put the Bible down,” he said.  

Three months after his physical healing, Loar experienced emotional healing.  

“(Growing up) there was no love ever expressed or shown. In fact, one of my main memories is of my father screaming and yelling all the time. He was a raging dry alcoholic,” said Loar. “As I teenager I got into fist fights with him when he hit and hurt my mother. I vividly remember him punching me and knocking me over a chair. Because of that background, as well as almost dying from third-degree burns over my entire left leg, with some very traumatic treatment in the hospital as a five-year-old scared little boy, I repressed all emotions. I did not cry either at my father’s or mother’s funeral, or my brother’s suicide, or my sisters’ suicide, the two of which have happened in recent years.”  

But in October he sobbed for the first time in his life.  

“The emotional scab was ripped off, because the emotional wounds had never healed,” said Loar, who is able to cry in public and private situations and events.  

He also is able to express joy.  

His story of healings is one of hope, Loar emphasized.  

He concluded that now he is in the “autumn” of his life he feels called to try to live by the words of Father Henri Nouwen: “The question is not ‘How much can I still do in the years that are left in me,’ the question is, ‘How can I prepare myself for a total surrender so my life can be fruitful?’ ”  

The event was sponsored by Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Baton Rouge.  

Next: Judy Holston’s healing testimony.