When Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre met with members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal last year, he asked them for three things, said the group’s leader Bob Garvey.
He asked the group to intercede on behalf of him and archdiocesan pastors; to spread the word about charismatic spirituality; and “try to do something” on Pentecost Sunday — considered the birthday of the church — and invite him to participate.
The third request came to life on Pentecost Sunday, May 28, during a 3 p.m. Mass at St. Bartholomew Church. Archbishop Fabre celebrated the special liturgy with Father Pablo Hernández, pastor of St. Bartholomew, and Deacon Thomas Roth, who serves at St. Aloysius Church in Pewee Valley, Ky., and as Deacon Liaison for the Charismatic Renewal.
“We’ve done really well on the first and third things,” Garvey said. “We’re fumbling the second one.”
The second one — educating Catholics about charismatic spirituality — is more difficult because “it’s a spirituality people aren’t aware exists,” Garvey said.
The Charismatic Renewal movement began with a group of college students in Pittsburgh in 1967 who felt there must be more to their Catholic faith than they were experiencing. Together they prayed the “Come, Holy Spirit” prayer and reported an “experience like we heard about in the Pentecost readings,” Garvey said.
The Gospel reading on Pentecost Sunday, from the book of St. John, describes the Holy Spirit coming to the apostles, who were locked in the upper room after Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
During his homily on Pentecost, Archbishop Fabre discussed that encounter. The Holy Spirit appeared to the apostles — 11 uneducated men faced with the task of spreading the Gospel message, he said.
“That situation, where it seems like there is no way forward, no chance of success and seemingly hopeless, is the situation that best reveals to us the person of the Holy Spirit,” the archbishop said. “Therefore, it is fitting that the Holy Spirit appears to the apostles in that context.
“The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God within us. The Holy Spirit makes us firmly believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
When the apostles shared the Gospel message, he said, “They didn’t do anything remarkable,” but they “proclaimed the Gospel that Jesus died and rose from the dead and offers new life.” That message proved to be transformative — thousands went on to join the Church because of that simple message.
Charismatic Renewal seeks to rekindle that experience today. It emphasizes what all Christians are called to do: Pray together and engage in faith actions rooted in and guided by the Holy Spirit.
“If we ask, the Holy Spirit comes,” said Archbishop Fabre. “If we open our hearts in response to the Spirit’s knocking, he enters.
“If I am open to it, if I am looking, I will know the presence of the Holy Spirit within me and see the Spirit working in all that I do in faith,” he said. “God leaves no space empty that we offer to him.”
After the liturgy, Garvey said the archbishop’s homily felt personal: “I felt like he was talking to me. No money or resources, little training, no infrastructure.”
“The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God within us. The Holy Spirit makes us firmly believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.”Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre
But he is confident that the group will grow.
“People who are looking to live a fuller life in the Holy Spirit usually find us,” he said.
The Catholic Charismatic Renewal group has several prayer groups and a service team working to educate parishes on the meaning of charismatic spirituality.
Those interested in learning more may contact Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 435-6186.