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Spirit in action: Catholic Charismatic Renewal marks 50 years

06 PAGE 6.22.17_charismatic.romeFather Raymund Reyes and pilgrims from the Archdiocese of San Francisco gather on arriving in Rome for the 50-year anniversary celebrations of Catholic Charismatic Renewal, May 31-June 4. The event included a Pentecost weekend address by Pope Francis to more than 30,000 pilgrims and Mass with the pope to close the celebration Pentecost Sunday at St. Peter’s Square. (Courtesy photo)

June 22, 2017
Tom Burke

Born of the Holy Spirit and launched from a college retreat in 1967 near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has proud roots of its own in the Archdiocese of San Francisco and continues to establish its legacy here.

Father Raymund Reyes, archdiocesan vicar for clergy, is Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone’s liaison to Catholic Charismatic Renewal of the archdiocese. Father Reyes first became part of the charismatic movement in the Philippines a few years after his ordination to the priesthood in 1988. He said it was an effort to improve ministry to the faithful there many of whom were members of charismatic prayer groups. A Catholic Charismatic Renewal “Life in the Spirit Seminar” was his first step.

“These seminars were aimed to look closely at one’s personal relationship with Christ by understanding the action of the Holy Spirit in one’s life,” Father Reyes said. The weekly talks “helped me understand better why many were attracted and engaged in this fast growing church movement at that time.”

When he came to the archdiocese in 1998, Father Reyes discovered Filipino charismatic prayer groups established in many parishes and found a warm welcome.

“I was invited to attend and speak at the different charismatic prayer groups as well as to the Holy Spirit Conference that was organized and held annually by the CCR of the archdiocese,” he said.

The prayer group meetings enable members “to express their longing for God amid their personal challenges and at the same time experience a concrete assurance of God’s comfort through the prayers, praises and love from the other members,” he said. “This is truly a great benefit that I receive from my ministry in the CCR. It is a satisfying feeling as a priest to involve everyone in prayer, praise and great disposition to listen and share God’s word.”

Father Reyes attended the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Rome May 31 through June 4 which included Pentecost Sunday. Two dozen charismatic faithful from the archdiocese joined him on the pilgrimage. More than 30,000 people attended from around the world.

“It was uplifting to hear Pope Francis refer to the CCR as the ‘current of grace’ that has been helping the church promote the proclamation that Jesus is alive and he loves all especially the poor and the needy,” Father Reyes said.

Deacon Ernie von Emster of St. Charles Parish, San Carlos, has been part of the renewal in the archdiocese since the 1980s.

“Many years ago I was longing for a more intimate relationship with my God and he led me to the charismatic renewal where I have been learning to come to a rich relationship with God through the Holy Spirit,” Deacon von Emster said. It was in a “Life in the Spirit” seminar that he “discovered the life and power of the Holy Spirit.” He and others subsequently established a charismatic prayer group at St. Charles. “We learned as we grew in the spirit and our lives were enriched and greatly changed,” he said. Deacon von Emster serves as an associate liaison for communication on the CCR board.

Deacon von Emser was ordained to the diaconate in 2012. “I wouldn’t be a deacon today serving the archdiocese without the grace received through the Holy Spirit while growing in the charismatic renewal,” he said.

CCR treasurer John Murphy, a St. Gregory, San Mateo, parishioner, has been part of the renewal since its beginnings in the archdiocese. The now retired teacher’s curiosity about the Holy Spirit led him to it in 1974. “God the father and God the son made sense to me but the Holy Spirit was hard for me to grasp,” Murphy said. On the vigil of Pentecost he attended a prayer meeting and Mass with the John the Baptist Community at the University of San Francisco.

“It was that night that I began to understand who the Holy Spirit was and what the Spirit meant in my life. The Holy Spirit makes our relationship to the Father and the Son possible.”

Murphy said CCR has “seen many changes throughout its history” and that it came to USF in 1971. Today CCR in the archdiocese includes some 700 members.


Renewing the gift of Spirit
A “Life in the Spirit Seminar” is a retreat which centers on God the Holy Spirit and is intended for anyone who desires a new awareness and deeper relationship with God, especially through the working of the Holy Spirit. It is an invitation to “stir into flame” in a renewed Pentecost the gift of the Holy Spirit that was given at baptism and confirmation.

The CCR of the Archdiocese of San Francisco is available at www.sfspirit.com. The website tells much about the movement with information about upcoming events and answers to frequently asked questions.

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