Charismatic Church seeks refreshment in Rome


HAVING grown organically out of a “baptism in the Spirit” experienced 50 years ago by Duquesne University students in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) could not be defined as a unified entity.

But the spirit of unity evident among the pilgrims from the Archdiocese who headed to Rome for the golden jubilee of the CCR highlights tight bonds.

Several locals, along with Archbishop Christopher Prowse, were among about 300 Australians who responded to an invitation from Pope Francis to gather with thousands from around the world to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

The week of events featured an international conference for the Catholic fraternity, a worldwide charismatic gathering, a Pentecost Vigil and Mass with the Pope, and an Australian gathering.

Some of the Archdiocese’s representatives also joined Fr Ken Barker MGL at a retreat in Assisi before going to Rome, and on a “Footsteps of St Paul” excursion in Greece and Turkey afterwards.

As he prepared for the trip, Fr Barker said he expected the event to be “an eye-opener”.

“[The CCR] is such a diverse thing and seeing us all come together … you realise what God has done for us in the years since the Second Vatican Council.”

Archbishop Prowse blessed a group of local pilgrims before they left, saying it was a privilege to accept the Pope’s invitation.

“All of us have a story about the Holy Spirit’s action in our lives,” he said.

“Particularly in this Archdiocese, the fruits of the charismatic church are well known.”

He hoped he and his fellow pilgrims would “come back re-energised” for their mission in the Church.

Among the youngest of the travellers was 14-year-old Katie Kirk, who went with her mother and father, Lara and Tim, and her brother Aodhan, 18.

A year 9 student at St Francis Xavier College, Katie was keen to see “Papa Francesco” and to mix with people from charismatic communities outside her own Disciples of Jesus.

Aodhan, who is spending his gap year working on the family farm before taking up a mission in Uganda and Tanzania, said charismatic renewal was “a big part of my identity as a Catholic”.

He hoped the pilgrimage would “be a real refresher”.

Among the other locals were Brenda Hay, who was thrilled at the thought of witnessing “our similarity with so many people we don’t even know”, and Judy Mullins, who saw it as a chance “to broaden our perspective on Church life”.

Both women have been part of the movement for 30 to 40 years, as has Carmel Henry, who expected the praise of the Holy Spirit in Rome to be even “mightier than some of the mighty” gatherings she had experienced so far.

Salomon Aviles and his son Julio, who have been part of the movement for 25 years, were inspired to make the trip by their friend Fr Barker.

“We felt in our hearts we had to go,” Salomon said.