Catholic Charismatics Convene in Santa Clara

by Roberta Ward

The 2012 Northern California Catholic Charismatic convention recently took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center, with an opening Mass celebrated by San Jose Auxiliary Bishop Thomas A. Daly.

The three-day event drew several hundred people from seven (arch)dioceses — Stockton, Monterey, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Rosa and San Jose.

The Northern CA Renewal Coalition draws together the diocesan bishops' liaisons to the Charismatic Renewal uniting their efforts to use the gifts and ministries within their dioceses. Victor Pioli has been appointed by Bishop Patrick J. McGrath as liaison for the Diocese of San José. He noted there are approximately 3,000 Charismatic Catholics in the diocese. He said that worldwide there may be 300 million Catholic Charismatics.

"The most valuable aspect of the movement," he said, "is that the Lord gives us a personal relationship and eternal life with gifts of the Holy Spirit (I Cor ch 12 vs 1-10), to use in accordance with His will to build the Church on earth as it is in heaven. We work directly with the Lord to do just that."

This year marked the 25th anniversary convention, the first of which, "Gathered in the Power of the Holy Spirit," was held in San Francisco in 1988, and again in 1989. In 1990 it was held in San Jose and since 1991, has been in Santa Clara.

Opening speaker was Ralph Martin, from Michigan, president of Renewal Ministries which is devoted to Catholic renewal and evangelization. He is director of graduate theology programs in evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary and is a leader in the development of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

He was appointed by Pope Benedict last December to a five-year term as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. The movement's explanation of "charisms" includes "a grace freely given by God to build up the Church," as separate from graces given to sanctify the individual.

Ordinary charisms include teaching and administrative duties and extraordinary charisms such as healing, miracles and (speaking in) tongues. In the post-Vatican II era, the late Cardinal Leo Suenens was a supporter of the movement.

Charismatic Renewal literature notes, "In the 2,000 years of the Catholic Church there have been approximately five outpourings of the Holy Spirit, beginning with Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus died on the Cross. "We are presently living in the last outpouring which occurred 42 years ago."

In February 1967, college students attending a retreat at Duquesne University had a "powerful and transforming expedience in response to prayer asking God to allow them to experience the graces of both Baptism and Confirmation. "This experience, known as Baptism in the Spirit, spread across U.S. college campuses."

Pope John Paul II called the Charismatic Renewal the "father of the renewals," and Pope Benedict XVI has called it "the springtime of the Church."

At the Santa Clara convention, praise and worship were evident with gentle music and fervent prayer and speakers inspired the praise and worship. Pioli noted the Vision Statement of the National Service Committee (NSC) of the U.S. Charismatic Renewal which "invites all people to experience the Holy Spirit who opens us to a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ and the love of the Father. The Holy Spirit empowers us for personal holiness, renewed Catholic life, and evangelization."

The committee's Mission Statement is "to foster the dynamic grace of Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) which empowered the members of the early Church at Pentecost.

"The NSC accomplishes this by proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the love of the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit which leads to the renewal of the grace and culture of Pentecost."