260 at charismatic conference pray for a ‘new Pentecost’

Photo Caption: Paul Martin of Mackinaw and Bev Bryan of Galesburg prepare to carry banners during the opening Mass of the 2012 Charismatic Renewal Conference July 27-28 in Peoria.

By: By Tom Dermody

There were plenty of quiet times during the 26th annual Charismatic Renewal Conference in Peoria July 27-28 when the 260 participants reverently embraced the theme “Be Still and Know that I Am God.”

The homily of Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, at the conference’s opening Mass was not one of them.

Bishop Jenky was repeatedly interrupted by applause as he called the Diocese of Peoria to “a deeper conversion through the power of the Holy Spirit” and urged conference attendees to pray for a “new Pentecost.”

Citing how encounters with the Risen Christ and the Holy Spirit transformed the first apostles from being frightened to fearless, the bishop said Catholics need to be similarly emboldened to address today’s needs.

“Why do we rest when so many still do not know the Lord,” asked the bishop. “Why are we passive when so many Catholics have fallen away from the true faith?”

Bishop Jenky also called for greater generosity and service to the poor and needy, and a stronger defense of the faith when it is mocked in movies or on television. But the assembly’s loudest cheers came when the bishop returned to familiar themes from recent months.

“Why do we allow our elected politicians to persecute God’s Holy Church,” he asked. “Now that Catholics are often elected to public office, why do some betray their faith? Why do some dare to betray the Lord Jesus Christ and yet still call themselves Catholic believers?”

Saying “we need a profound renewal of all the gifts of the Spirit if we are to be serious about serving Jesus Christ,” Bishop Jenky urged conference attendees to “pray for a new experience of the Spirit of God, for a new evangelization, and a new springtime of faith.”

Those calls were echoed throughout the weekend by conference speakers and praise leaders during the two-day gathering sponsored by the Diocese of Peoria’s Office of Catholic Charismatic Renewal at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel.

“The Spirit is not given to make us comfortable, but for mission and ministry,” said Sister Nancy Kellar, a Sister of Charity from New York who has been involved in Catholic Charismatic Renewal leadership for more than four decades.

Frequently returning to her theme that “God always has more” than we can imagine, she described how she has traveled the world spreading the Gospel. But sometimes, she added, “it’s easier to go to the ends of the earth than to our own families” where there is often need of healing and reconciliation.

It is in stillness that we hear Christ’s call to forgive others, and the assurance that the Holy Spirit will give us the courage and the words to proclaim the Gospel, said Sister Nancy.

Meanwhile, Father John Gordon reminded attendees we are made with a longing to know God, and he challenged Christians “to settle for nothing less than God himself.”

“Ministry isn’t God,” said Father Gordon, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark who speaks at Catholic Charismatic Conferences around the country. “Conferences aren’t God. The church isn’t God. Only God is God, and settle for nothing less than God at the center of our lives, and the longing of our hearts.”

Father Gordon was principal celebrant of the conference’s closing Mass on Saturday evening. The conference, which drew participants from prayer groups throughout the diocese and around the Midwest, also featured a healing service, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and several times of praise and worship led by a music ministry team headed by Mary Delgado of Sparland.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘God, I love you,'” said Father Eugene Radosevich, pastor of St. Luke’s Parish in Eureka and a spiritual adviser for Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the diocese, during a praise and worship session. “It’s another thing to say, ‘Here’s my life, change it any way you want to,'” he added, encouraging all to invite God to have that reign.

Deacon Kevin Zeeb of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Morton served as master of ceremonies. He prayed with the speakers prior to their talks and led attendees in the conference’s “Be Still” prayer.

Jan Broers, administrative assistant of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal office, noted this year’s conference had 40 first-time attendees. She said the event was marked by “unity, joy, and openness” to the will of God.

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