Charismatic conference speakers online: keep eyes on Jesus in these troubled times
The Holy Spirit always finds a way.
When COVID-19 restrictions made it impossible to hold the 34th annual Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference in person as scheduled July 25, organizers moved it online, with videos posted to YouTube. There viewers could find presentations by keynote speakers Caroline Gambale-Dirkes of 2TIM4 Ministries in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Dan Dúet of Two Twelve Ministries in San Antonio, Texas, as well as the familiar face of Deacon Kevin Zeeb of Blessed Sacrament in Morton, who offered opening and closing prayers.
New to this year’s conference was a message of welcome from Bishop Louis Tylka, who was ordained Coadjutor Bishop of Peoria just two days before.
“I know this year it’s being done a little differently as we are using the gift of social media to reach out to one another and stay connected, but nonetheless we gather because it is important for us certainly to reflect and allow the Lord to come into our lives in such a powerful way as we do so by calling upon the Holy Spirit,” he said on behalf of himself and Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC.
“I encourage you, as you go through your conference, to be open to the Spirit’s promptings in your hearts and certainly be open to the call of discipleship we have in serving the Lord,” Bishop Tylka said, before offering a prayer and his blessing.
A FLEXIBLE FORMAT
This year’s theme was “The Truth Will Set You Free.”
The new format allowed them to evangelize in a different way, said Cady Nosbisch, who chaired the conference. It also gave participants the flexibility to pause the videos if they wanted to pray or spend more time with something the speaker was saying.
And while there wasn’t a physical prayer room, a volunteer created an email account for people who wanted to send prayer requests during the day.
The videos remain available at Peoria Diocese Catholic Charismatic Renewal on YouTube, although the presentations by Gambale-Dirkes will only be available for 30 days.
In her first talk, “Trusting in the Lord,” Gambale-Dirkes took on fear of COVID-19 in a direct way, reminding her listeners that God is a God of power, hope and miracles.
“Brothers and sisters, no matter how bad things are going in our families, our culture, our church, our world, with COVID-19, with racism, with social unrest, God is bigger and we can’t forget that,” she said.
“When we look at the news, we get our eyes off of who? We get our eyes off of Jesus and we start looking at trouble, we start looking at chaos, and we start to get fearful,” Gambale-Dirkes said. “The Lord is like, ‘No, turn your eyes back toward me. I’m your Father. I’ve got this.’”
FOUNDATION IS THE LORD
She acknowledged that it has been stressful to see things that are familiar and comfortable being stripped away by the pandemic, including being able to go to church. But these are moments of grace because they make us realize what our true foundation is, she said.
“There is nothing that can satisfy the human heart except for the Lord. We have to make sure in these times that our foundation is in Christ alone,” Gambale-Dirkes said. “God is more than capable of navigating us through these difficult times.”
The reason our hope doesn’t disappoint is because our hope is not an idea. Our hope has a name and it’s Jesus Christ, who died and rose again, who gives us eternal life.
“That is where we place our hope and nothing can shake it,” she said.
To counter the spirit of fear that has swept across the nation, Gambale-Dirkes suggested people pray for four specific gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, counsel, fortitude and healing.
The gift of wisdom helps us to see everything through the lens of divine truth, while the gift of counsel “enables us to see and choose correctly what will most help glorify God, our salvation and the good of the church.” The gift of fortitude assures us of everlasting life and offers freedom from the fear of death, according to Gambale-Dirkes.
As for the gift of healing, “God’s given us the gift to heal people. There’s power in the name of Jesus.”
She also talked about the opportunities she’s had to evangelize people, not only through 2TIM4 Ministries, which seeks to preach the Gospel to all ages through parish missions and retreats, but as director of youth ministry for the Archdiocese of Newark. The reason more people aren’t being evangelized, she said, is because there’s a lack of love in the world.
In her second talk, “Living in the Spirit,” Gambale-Dirkes encouraged people to pray for an increase in “love that doesn’t count the cost.”
“Are we willing to love enough to give a soul a chance to find Jesus Christ? Someone’s salvation may be on the line,” she said.
WATERED DOWN FAITH
In addition to providing praise and worship music, as he has for five years, Dúet spoke about “Post-Christian America: Does the Truth Set Us Free?” Among his points was that political correctness is causing people, including many Christians, to water down the faith. This undermines the truth of the Gospel.
“Do we even know we need to be set free,” he asked. Only by taking responsibility for our own actions and not blaming others can we break the sinful patterns in our lives.
“The truth sets free those who desire it,” Dúet said.