Charismatic renewal celebrates 50 years

CHARISMATIC-ANNIVERSARYBy Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Experiencing baptism in the Holy Spirit — which is at the heart of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement — is like discovering the gift of a million dollars in the bank. This is how Bob Garvey, a parishioner of St. Bartholomew Church, describes the experience.

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the United States this year. It was born during a weekend retreat at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1967. Following that retreat, where participants said they experienced being filled with the Holy Spirit, word of what happened spread quickly throughout the U.S. and around the world, said Garvey.

He discovered the movement in 1970 in Queens, N.Y. Today, he is a member of the local Charismatic Renewal Heart of Jesus Prayer Group that meets at Holy Family Church every Wednesday evening. And he is organizing programs in the Archdiocese of Louisville, including seminars and the weekly prayer meetings, to mark the movement’s golden jubilee.

Garvey said that the Charismatic Renewal centers around baptism in the Holy Spirit, in which an individual is filled and renewed by God in a way similar to the experience of Jesus’ disciples at Pentecost.

The power of the Holy Spirit, seen in the early church, is still available to all Catholics, said Garvey. It’s conferred upon each person at the time of baptism and confirmation, he noted.

“The Holy Spirit, in many ways, is like a $1 million bank account put aside for when we need it,” he said.

Yet, he noted, many Catholics spend their lives keeping that “$1 million worth of grace” in the account, some not realizing it’s there.
The movement, he said, helps people to activate the Holy Spirit and release its power in their lives and within the church.

Maureen Grisanti Larison, archdiocesan consultant for adult formation and initiation who acts as a liaison for the Catholic Charismatic movement in the Archdiocese of Louisville, described her baptism in the Holy Spirit as a “spiritual aha moment.”

Larison had the experience on a high school retreat and said it’s what prompted her to make ministry her life’s work.
“Everything I was taught came alive in me. It was like someone turning the volume up,” she said.

Some people have reported “speaking in tongues, receiving knowledge straight from God and prophesying,” said Larison.

Those outward manifestations are often associated with the movement, she noted. Some people find it “fascinating” while others find it “unnerving,” she said. Not every charismatic, however, experiences their baptism in this way. Many, she noted, express their new awareness of the Holy Spirit in a less visible manner through their daily lives and ministry.

She believes that baptism in the Holy Spirit “deepens your faith commitment and desire to share Jesus with the rest of the world.”

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not only about the “individual’s relationship with God and the individual’s experience with the Holy Spirit,” she said. “It’s also about how that’s shared with the larger church.”

Kimberly Allen, a member of St. Mary Church in Lanesville, Ind., and a member of the Heart of Jesus Prayer group, is organizing a bus trip to Pittsburgh July 20-23 for a conference marking the movement’s 50th anniversary. The conference will include events for young people and workshops for Hispanic, Filipino and Vietnamese Catholics, said Allen.

Pope Francis has invited Catholic charismatics and charismatics of other faith communities to celebrate Pentecost and the 50th anniversary in Rome, said Allen, who plans on traveling to Rome with a group organized by Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. The pope will hold a prayer vigil on June 3 and a Pentecost Mass in St. Peter’s Square on June 4.

“The Holy Father has really put his blessing on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement,” said Allen.

The Heart of Jesus Prayer Group meets at 7 p.m. every Wednesday at Holy Family Church, 3938 Poplar Level Road.

A six-week seminar, entitled “Life in the Spirit,” is planned on Thursday evenings starting today, May 11, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. John Paul II Church annex, 3042 Hikes Lane.

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One reply on “Charismatic renewal celebrates 50 years”
  1. 50th anniversary conference Pittsburgh. Hi. Will you be accepting vendors at your conference? Please email me information or fill free to call me at 2104213221. Blessings

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