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50 years of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Next week, from July 20-23, I will be attending the 2017 Jubilee Conference which marks 50 years of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The conference is being held in Pittsburgh, PA. It was in Pittsburgh in February of 1967 that a group of students on retreat at Duquesne University prayed for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them like the disciples had experienced on Pentecost.

Posted on July 17, 2017

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The experience that they had on retreat had a profound effect on their lives.
Many of them received what has been referred to as a "baptism in the Spirit" that John the Baptist had foretold that Jesus would give to his disciples, "He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire." (Mt 3:11). Like the first disciples at Pentecost their lives were changed as they experienced gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit that helped them to grow in their faith and their personal relationship with Jesus. And like the first disciples they began sharing their experience with others and praying with others for the same outpouring of the Spirit.


From that beginning with a few students in Pittsburgh the outpouring of the Holy Spirit soon spread throughout the country and the world. Charismatic prayer groups began spring up where people would gather to praise God, to listen to His Word and intercede for others. The charismatic gifts of praising God in tongues, receiving God's prophetic word, as well as gifts of healing began to be manifest when people gathered together in prayer.


I think I first heard of the Charismatic Movement and the term "baptism in the Holy Spirit" in 1973. I was drafted into the Army in November of 1972. I remember that the day I had to report for my draft physical in the summer of '72 was also the day I dropped my brother, David, off at the Thruway. From there he hitchhiked across the country to live in Montana where a friend of his, whom he had met in the Marines, was living. As I began the segment of my life in the Army, David began living in a community in the Montana wilderness that was founded as a Christian community. While he was there David began writing to me about the Holy Spirit and how God was working in his life. I could sense from the way he wrote that his life was changing for the better. My Mom though was worried about her son! This group he was living with was not Catholic! But, Mom saw too that David seemed be growing in the Lord. Mom wanted to inquire more about the Holy Spirit that she saw at work in her son, so mom and dad both began attending a Prayer Group that was held in the Convent in Oneonta. Soon my Mom began sharing with me their experiences of how the Holy Spirit was at work in their lives. They began praying together more, mom soon had a library of books that helped her in her spiritual life, my dad even took up the guitar and began playing music at the prayer meetings.


When I saw these changes taking place in my family I too began to pray more for the Holy Spirit. The only times I had done so in the past was when I was taking tests at school and I asked the Holy Spirit to help me remember what I had learned. When I was discharged from the Army in November of '74, I moved back to Rochester where I had attended college. As soon as I moved there, my Mom sent me a list of Charismatic Prayer Group in the area. I eventually began attending one at St. Pius X Church in Chili, NY. I went there the first time to pray for a friend of mine who was having difficulties, but I soon realized that I needed to attend for myself. The support of the community and the grace of the Holy Spirit that I received there helped to ferment my calling to the priesthood. Then while attending a National Catholic Charismatic Conference at the University of Notre Dame in 1976, I began hearing the call to service in the church. In the fall of that year I entered Becket Hall as I began my studies that would lead to the final discernment to be ordained a priest in 1982. I thank the Holy Spirit for the .strength and grace I have received in so many ways since I began to seek an outpouring of God's love through the gift of the Holy Spirit. May the same Holy Spirit enrich your lives each day.
God bless you, Father Bill

Words from our Pastor

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