1 September 1997

Simple Beginnings

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal which has touched the lives of millions in every corner of the world had simple beginnings. A group of Catholic College students gathered for a weekend retreat at the Ark and the Dove retreat house outside of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. They were praying for a “New Pentecost” throughout the weekend. On the Saturday night of the weekend, a few of the students were gathered in the chapel for prayer when a powerful outpouring of the Spirit began to take place.

The other students were drawn to the chapel to see what had happened to their friends who had not come into the dining room for a scheduled birthday party! They too, experienced the outpouring of the Spirit!

Word spread quickly of the strange and wonderful event that came to be known as the Duquesne weekend. (Duquesne is the name of the college where the retreat took place). Over the weeks, months, and years that followed, the Charismatic Renewal made inroads into every aspect of the Church, worldwide.

The Significance of the Charismatic Renewal

It is impossible to completely analyze the impact that the Charismatic Renewal has made in the Church. It would be like trying to contain sea in a bucket! We can see however, some general ways that the Charismatic Renewal has impacted the Church.

  • Much new, anointed energized music.
  • A high value on having a personal relationship with God, and living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
  • A desire for, and experience in evangelization.
  • A renewed interest in the gift of healing.
  • A focus on personal holiness.
  • A hunger for prayer and Scripture.
  • A revival of small faith sharing groups and communities.
  • A new accent on the role of laity in the life of the Church.
  • A renewed interest in charismatic gifts.

And this list doesn’t even address how many lives have been transformed by the grace of Pentecost…people set free of addictions, relationship restores, people given new meaning and purpose for their lives. We also must note the number of religious vocations that have come from Charismatic Renewal. People involved in the Charismatic Renewal have also become involved in many other aspects of ministry in their parishes and in social ministries. Thanks be to God!

Although God has done so much good through the Charismatic Renewal these past thirty years, we must nor become proud or complacent. Pentecost in the work of God, but He has poured this grace out on less than perfect human beings! We as a movement have been guilty of spiritual pride, insensitivity to others and bickering among ourselves. Who knows how many times our own sinfulness and selfishness hindered the work of God. In reviewing these past years we must acknowledge our faults, repent before God, and seek reconciliation with our brothers and sisters where that is needed.

The thirtieth anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is an opportunity to be mindful of all that God has accomplished. And give Him rightful thanks. It is also a time to reflect on our mistakes and with a renewed trust in God, begin again. Perhaps most importantly, this special anniversary gives us a moment to reflect and discern where we as a movement , and as individuals are going in the days ahead. How does the Lord want to work in our midst today? May we be attentive to the promptings of His Spirit even now as we approach the third millennium of Christianity.


By Jim Murphy

Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter, September-October 1997.

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