Dominican Father John Restrepo, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Orleans, had major back surgery in January, and the last Mass he was able to celebrate was on Jan. 12.
For nearly a month, he recuperated in the St. Anthony priory, trying to regain his strength. On Saturday, Feb. 8, Father Restrepo, using a walker, celebrated Mass while seated at the presider’s chair in the sanctuary. With the help of Deacon Joseph Dardis, he sat in a chair behind the altar for the consecration.
“It’s been a very slow process, but I’m feeling much better and the pain is bearable,” Father Restrepo said. “It’s been a tremendous recovery. It’s been a miracle. I think it’s because of all the people’s prayers, and I thank them for all their prayers and cards. I also had so many priests who helped out with Masses. I thank them for that.”
After Mass, Father Restrepo remained in his chair and greeted parishioners, who were overjoyed to have him back. His next landmark will be March 11 – when he’s allowed to drive again.