VATICAN CITY. Pope Francis has invited thousands of Catholic charismatics and members of Pentecostal and Evangelical churches to Rome to celebrate Pentecost and mark the 50th anniversary of what became the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
The pope will lead a prayer vigil June 3, the eve of Pentecost, at Rome’s Circus Maximus, an open field that was the site of an ancient Roman stadium used for chariot races. Participants will join the pope the next morning for Pentecost Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
In 2014, Pope Francis had invited had invited charismatics and Pentecostals to Rome in 2017 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Catholic charismatic movement, which traces its origins to a retreat held in 1967 at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. The anniversary event is being organized by the Vatican-based International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services. The jubilee celebrations will begin in Rome May 31 with prayer meetings, a youth festival, meetings for theologians and workshops.
“Pope Francis asked us to plan a jubilee that is as inclusive as possible,” particularly by including other Christians who also emphasize the importance of baptism in the Holy Spirit, said Michelle Moran, president of International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services.
According to Moran’s office, the Catholic charismatic renewal is present in more than 200 countries and has reached an estimated 120 million Catholics.
Meeting with charismatics and Pentecostals in 2014, Pope Francis admitted he was not always comfortable with the way they prayed, but he knelt onstage as they prayed for him and over him by singing and speaking in tongues.
“In the early years of the charismatic renewal in Buenos Aires, I did not have much love for charismatics,” the pope had explained. “I said of them: ‘They seem like a samba school.’”
But little by little, he said, he came to see how much good the movement was doing for Catholics and for the church.
Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (CCRS) is a diocesan office whose mission includes broadening and deepening the understanding that the grace of baptism in the Holy Spirit is the Christian inheritance of all; helping people to come into or grow in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; fostering evangelization in the power of the Spirit, and helping establish and support vibrant Charismatic prayer groups and praise and worship gatherings, said Deacon Chuck Matzker, Bishop Sheridan’s liaison to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The office’s activities include conducting or supporting Life in the Spirit seminars; confirmation retreats; teachings and seminars on baptism in the Spirit, living life in the Spirit, evangelization, and the gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit; prayer vigils, Masses with Prayers for Healing, and praise and worship meetings, Deacon Matzker said.
The Holy Apostles Charismatic Prayer Community has been conducting a Charismatic Praise Gathering for over 30 years on Wednesday evenings. In recent years, the Renewal has supported the formation of the Magnificat charismatic women’s ministry based at Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Woodland Park and the Unbound healing and deliverance ministry based at Holy Apostles.
In addition to the celebration in Rome this Pentecost, there will be a celebration in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from July 20-23. The CCRS website, www.newpentecost.net has more information on current and upcoming events, including a Life in the Spirit Pentecost event June 2-3 in preparation for Pentecost Sunday, June 4.
(The Colorado Catholic Herald contributed to this story.)