Walls come down as Spirit brings new life at Catholic charismatic conference

Merlyn Sondag of Immaculate Conception parish in Manito is surrounded with prayer for healing from an arthritic left leg at the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference July 22 at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Paul Thomas Moore)

By Paul Thomas Moore l The Catholic Post

Many walls of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual resistance came down during the 37th Annual Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference, “I Have Loved You with an Everlasting Love.” It took place at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria.

At one point, presenter Michael Nolan of Shadow on the Water Ministries asked participants to prayerfully meditate on the question, “Father, why did you bring me here this morning?” He continued to gently guide the reflection over the next several minutes, before circling back to the original question, “Father, why did you bring me here this morning?”

Michael Nolan of Shadow on the Water leads a reflection at the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference. Nolan and his Shadow on the Water team will return to lead a retreat on Saturday, Oct. 14. (The Catholic Post/Paul Thomas Moore)

As if in response, the recorded music that had been playing in the background softy swelled. Nolan smiled and said, “Yes, I receive. Thank you, Jesus.”

The moment could have symbolized the broader purpose of the whole day, as participants were tasked with receiving the inflowing of the Holy Spirit with openness and gratitude.

Deacon Kevin Zeeb of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Morton, and the spiritual adviser to the Charismatic Renewal Advisory Board for the Diocese of Peoria, described the impact of the Spirit as “new life, transformation, renewal, energy, joy, peace — all of the qualities of the Lord.”

The day’s itinerary was built on a bedrock of praise, worship, confession, adoration, and Mass, as well as a healthy dose of healing prayer.


Merlyn Sondag of Immaculate Conception Parish in Manito requested healing prayer for his arthritic left leg, which was causing a noticeable limp. Nolan led healing prayer over him, and Sondag reported his pain had lessened.

“We’re going to pray again — we want full healing,” Nolan said.

Joan Wood of St. Joseph Parish in Pekin reverences the Blessed Sacrament during adoration at the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference, while Michael Nolan of Shadow on the Water leads participants in prayer. (The Catholic Post/Paul Thomas Moore)

He led the participants in praying, “Lord, we bless what you are doing, we ask for more.” Following the prayer, Sondag said his pain was “fine now,” and he walked with no noticeable limp.

Several days later, Sondag confirmed that he was still largely pain-free. In addition, his balance was better, he could walk normally, and go downstairs without bringing the “good” leg forward before each step. Most important, he was learning to have confidence in the healing.

“When I walk, I thought, ‘Straighten up — you don’t need to walk bent over,”’ Sondag said. “You know, you get in the habit of walking funny.”

Nolan cautioned that healings can sometimes lose ground, and — his own included — can take days or months or even years, but the important thing is to keep praying.

Shadow on the Water team members Laura Rubenzer and Miriam Johll prayed over many during the scheduled healing time, and outside of it, including joining Deacon Zeeb for an impromptu prayer in the hall over Mark Buettner, who has been suffering from stage four pancreatic cancer for five years. (See the story on Page 9).


Father Marc Nkulu, SMA, parochial vicar at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Peoria Heights, was the principal celebrant for the closing Mass. Concelebrating was Father Michael Trummer, parochial vicar of St. Boniface Parish in Edwardsville in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

Father Nkulu said that constant renewal in the Holy Spirit is important because “if we abandon the Spirit we become weak.”

Deacon Zeeb said the Shadow on the Water team has been invited back for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Fall Retreat at the Spalding Pastoral Center. It is planned for Saturday, Oct. 14. After the experience of being ”intimate with God,” Deacon Zeeb said the theme of the fall retreat is about “equipping us to go out and do what God has called us to do.”

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