What is Catholic Charismatic Renewal?
Catholic Charismatic Renewal , (or CCR), was birthed by the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church in 1967 it came about as a fruit of the Second Vatican Council. Since then it has impacted millions of Catholic all over the world .
Common to all expressions of Catholic Charismatic Renewal is the experience of the fruits of Pentecost through an outpouring of spiritual gifts called Baptism in the Holy Spirit, involving a personal encounter with Jesus Christ as savior,openness to the Word of God, to exercising the charisms and to evangelisation in faithful service of the Church. The CCR has manyexpressions suchas, Prayer groups in local parishes, ministries, communities , formation programs , renewal days, retreats , conferences.
Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Services CHARIS is the Service that is situated in Rome where it promotes and strengthens communion among all Charismatic realities, fostering a sense of the worldwide family of Catholic Charismatic Renewal
Pope Frances referred to the CCR as a “Current of grace “for the whole church and asked the Charismatic Renewal to: Share Baptism in the Holy Spirit, To foster unity in the body of Christ, To serve the poor.
Looking at its history may tell us much about it…..
In 1962, as Pope John XXIII prepared for the Second Vatican Council, he prayed for a new Pentecost in the Church. One of the main messages from this Council was the importance of the “universal call to holiness. For this to happen, thePopesaid he would ‘open the windows of the Church’soas to allow the Holy Spirit in! And the Holy Spirit did come upon the Church in a new and remarkable way!
It was in 1967, just 5 years later, a group of Catholic students from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, USA,in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament during a Retreat, were prayed over by a graduate student who had himself been prayed over at an Episcopalian Prayer Meeting. God simply sent them the Baptism in the Holy Spirit; that is to say, they experienced a personal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This has become known as the ‘Duquesne weekend’ and was the birth of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. As those at that Retreat shared their experience and prayed with people, an outpouring like a new Pentecost spread throughout the Catholic Church.
As described by Alex Reichel in a report published in New Covenantmagazine,we learn that through Fr Gerald Hawkins, a retired abbot from Oregon, USA, the CCR wafted into Australia in 1969. Father Gerald who was a personal friend of Cardinal Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney at the time, had come home to visit his relatives.
Alex Reichel who was an associate professor of Applied Mathematics at Sydney University,having had an experience of the Renewal whilst on sabbatical in the USA, gradually came to discover through his experience “a level of faith that was so outside all previous experiences it made my hair stand on end.” Upon returning to Australia,Alex was granted permission from Cardinal Gilroyto hold a Charismatic Prayer Meetingat Sydney University’s St Michael’s College, In 1972, it moved to St Francis de Sales Church in Surry Hills. It was here that a Catholic Charismatic Community outreach to the poor and homeless began….. a service outreach very much on the heart of Pope Francis for the CCR today.
As more people worldwide discovered personal renewal and friendship with the Holy Spirit, they were gathering in Prayer Groups, holding Conferences etc at the local, national and international levels and it came to be spoken of as “Catholic Charismatic Renewal”.Then, with Church Leaders growing in their understanding ofthe Catholic Charismatic Renewal and its rapid growth world-wide, they could see the need for guidance. And so it was that an office for the CCR was established in the Vatican under the title of the “Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office”. This subsequently became ICCRS: “International Catholic Charismatic Services”. By this time the CCR includedCovenant Communities which had grown out of the Prayer Group experience.Such communities as the Disciplesof Jesus Covenant Communityin Sydney (from which the Missionaries of God’s Love grew)and the Servants of Jesus Ecumenical Covenant Community,also in Sydney, consist of families, single people and Religious.
In 2019, Pope Francis made the statement that a new stage of the CCR was about to begin with the creation of CHARIS: a current of grace for the CCR worldwide. He said this was a stage marked by communion between all members of the Charismatic family in which the Holy Spirit is manifested for the good of the whole Church…. making each one equal since each is born of the same Spirit: great and small; young and old; worldwide and local – all forming a whole. And he stressed that CHARIS is a service, not a governance…. It is a service for ALL.The Pope wanted CHARIS to be established by the Holy See through the Dicastery for the Laity so that those in CCR and the whole Church would know that the Catholic Charismatic Renewal belongs fully to the universal Church.
(CHARIS information is taken from the address of Pope Francisto the
International Conference of Leaders of CHARIS, 8thJune, 2019)