By Rick Hiebert. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
The name of Father Fernando Suarez may be familiar to Catholics in the Toronto area. But Filipino community readers across Canada will certainly now know of him as he is the cover subject of The Filipino Post
Father Suarez, the Vancouver based free paper notes, made a bit of a splash in 2002 and 2003 when he was based in Ontario. He retains a Canadian-based non-profit charity, Mary Mother of the Poor. But he is probably best known, though, as the “Healing Priest”, who conducts faith-healing masses that, according to the Filipino Post, bring cities in the Phillipines to “a standstill.”
Suarez is still a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Ottawa but the Filipino Post notes that Suarez has been expelled from the Toronto Catholic Archdiocese, where Suarez was an associate priest at St. Timothy’s in North York in 2002 and 2003.”
Suarez returned to the Philippines a few years ago, and gained clout in the Catholic Church, as well as politically and financially. The Post adds that this apparent power has raised “fear and apprehension.”
He’s front page news in the Philippines in the past couple weeks, as the English-language national newspaper there, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, has done a series of stories on Suarez. [The Filipino Post story has "the Inquirer" all over it, so it seems they are trying to do a "matcher" story following the Inquirer's work]
Fortunately, the Philippine Daily Inquirer has a website, so I can direct you to two of their recent stories. Here, Suarez, defends himself against criticism of ‘how his Mary Mother of the Poor (MMP) Foundation has been handling its finances and to allegations that he is living a lavish lifestyle.”
Another story reports on how the “so-called healing” priest’s plans for a major building project in the Philippines was set aside by a local planning authority.Father Suarez had planned to include in the project a Marian shrine with a statue of Mary bigger than the Statue of Liberty.