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 and beyond.  My involvement at the time was to help others to organize a prayer meeting and what is known as 'Charismatic Healing Masses'.  The Charismatic Mass is led by one of several priests 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.  His story was that, at that time he was Catholic Chaplain at St. Charles Hospital in Oregon, Ohio, just East of Toledo. But his previous assignment had been 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 in his frustration he decided to leave the priesthood, pack up his car and 'head west into the sunset'.  He confided that decision with 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 there.'

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. George 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. George 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 Fr. George, "Go to Staten Island Retreat House a month from today, and you will find the answer."  So Fr. George went back to Mansfield Reformatory to spend the month until the retreat, got his job back (because nobody else wanted that job), 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.  Then Fr. George said that it was like Fr. Francis was talking to his best buddy!  Fr. Francis said, "Well, Lord Jesus, we are all wounded in various ways, and You alone know our wounds, and 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 never connected emotionally.  He thought that if he was just a better son his mother would love him.  But, when Fr. Francis prayed that prayer, Jesus spoke to George and told George that the real reason why his mother did not have a heart connection with him was because he was the sixth child and she had decided that five children was enough.  So when she found out that she was pregnant with him, all of her disappointment was focused on him.  It was not his fault that he and his mother had never disconnected!

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

Then he said that Jesus, in an audible voice, gently 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 spoke conversationally again and said, "George, you may have noticed that I never got mentioned in the story of your life."

George said that he was so embarrassed that he thought about hiding in shame from the Lord, but realized that there is  no hiding place from God.  So he sheepishly replied, "Lord, I noticed that too."  In response the Lord graciously asked, "Do you know why?"   "No, why?" George replied.  Jesus then told him, "It is 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 meekly said, "Lord, I am desperate for You now, and so are the guys at Mansfield Reformatory."  So Fr. George returned to Mansfield Reformatory after the retreat 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  at 9:00 a.m. was Nick "The Greek" Pirovolos - 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."

Fr. George says that since that day Nick has become chaplain's assistant, and Nick 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.  Fr. George ends the story with a grin by saying, 'Personally I think it's about four thousand men, but no one argues with Nick, even now that he's a good guy!"


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 Nick the Greek wrote about his ministry at Mansfield Reformatory (  See below.

Don't miss the addendum link below the obituary!!

Fr. George Obituary


John's Passing