The Father George Story


When my wife and I first received Jesus into our hearts in 1976 we were attending a Roman Catholic Church.  It didn't' take long for us to get involved in the Catholic Charismatic movement.  My involvement was to help others to organize a prayer meeting and what is known as 'Charismatic Masses'.  The Charismatic Mass is led by a priest in the Charismatic Movement, and our favorite Charismatic priest was Father George Koerber.

One day after Mass, Fr. George took us out for coffee, and told us his story.  At that time, Fr. George was the Roman Catholic Chaplain at St. Charles Hospital in Oregon, Ohio, just East of Toledo. However, the story he shared actually related to his previous assignment as Catholic Chaplain at Mansfield Reformatory, a maximum security prison in Mansfield, Ohio.  He said that he got totally frustrated because nothing he said or did made 'a dent' in any of the inmates' problems.  So he decided to leave the priesthood, pack up his car and 'head west'.  He confided that decision to another priest, who said, 'If you are going West, how about you drop me off in South Bend, Indiana, this weekend because I have a retreat to go to.

So Fr. George takes the other priest to South Bend, and the other priest drags Fr. George into the retreat because it is free food and lodging for the weekend, and Fr. Goerge is now unemployed.  Fr. George said that he had been on dozens of weekend retreats, and this was the same format.  Someone would give a talk about a spiritual subject, there would be discussion and prayer time, and then another talk.  He said that this was the same as he had previously experienced except that the last guy to give a talk about the Holy Spirit was different!  Fr. Goerge said, "I could not tell you a single word that this guy said, but I saw the love of God pouring out of this man.  So I went up to him after his talk and said, 'I don't know what you have, but I need it and the guys at Mansfield are desperate for whatever it is.'"

The speaker, Fr. Francis, told George, "Go to Staten Island Retreat House a month from today, and you will find the answer."  So Fr. Goerge went back to Mansfield Reformatory to spend the month until the retreat, got his job back because nobody else wanted it, and went to Staten Island, New York for the next retreat.  He said that the retreat started in the chapel Friday evening at 7:00 as they all do, and Fr. Francis greeted everyone.  Fr. George said that it was like Fr. Francis was talking to his best buddy.  Francis said, "Well, Lord Jesus, we are all wounded in various ways, and You alone are able to stretch forth Your hand to touch and heal even the deepest wound.  So please touch everyone here and heal their deepest wound."

Fr. George said that he just fell apart.  He wept and wept because he and his mother had always had a disconnect.  He thought that if he was just a better son his mother would love him.  But when Fr. Francis prayed that prayer the Lord told Goerge that the real reason why he and his mother did not have a heart connection was because he was the sixth child and his mother had decided that five children was enough.  So when she found out that she was pregnant with him, all of her disappointed was focused on him.

So George said that he wept and wept until he ran out of tears.  Then he looked around and discovered that everyone else had left the chapel, and he was alone with God!  He said that he discovered that he was angry with God.  He said, "Lord, I am fifty years old.  Why did You let me carry this wound in my heart for fifty years?"

He said that Jesus, in an audible voice, said, "George, here is the story of your life.  Sixth child, went to school and graduated, went to seminary and graduated, assistant pastor at Tiffin St. Mary's church, and chaplain at Mansfield Reformatory."  There was a short pause, and then Jesus said, "George, you will notice that I never got mentioned in the story of your life."

George said that he was so embarrassed that he looked for somewhere to hide from the Lord, but found no hiding place.  So he replied, "Lord, I noticed that too."  In response the Lord graciously asked, "Do you know why?"   "No, why?"  "Because you have never been desperate for Me until now.  You have wanted to try every thing else, and I have let you try every thing else."

So George said, "Lord, I am desperate for You, and so are the guys at Mansfield Reformatory."  So George returned to Mansfield Reformatory with hope in his heart for the first time.  Then he laughed and said, "The first guy through the chaplain's door that next Monday morning was Nick The Greek - murderer, tough guy, but walking wounded like the rest of us."  So I said, "Nick - I found the answer.  His name is Jesus.  Get down on your knees and I will pray for you."

George says that since that day Nick has become chaplain's assistant, and says that more than six thousand men over the years have had their lives transformed by the Lord's healing touch at the Mansfield Reformatory.

THE REST OF THE STORY:

In 2009 my wife cut an obituary out of the Toledo Blade and handed it to me.  Fr. George had passed away.  the obituary mentioned the fact that George was the sixth child of the family, that George had been involved in the Catholic Charismatic movement, and that he got mentioned in the book that Nich the Greek wrote about his ministry at Mansfield Reformatory.  See below.

Fr. George Obituary