Catholic Charismatic Conference: Freeing the Spirit
“Share with the whole Church the grace of baptism in the Spirit.”
With these words of Pope Francis, Archbishop Gregory Aymond opened the 39th annual Catholic Charismatic Conference March 13-15. The conference theme, “Set Free,” was taken from 2 Cor 3:17: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
More than 800 people from the Gulf South attended the weekend to receive the freedom and healing the Lord has won for us.
Conference speaker Andi Oney gave a stirring exhortation about the importance of praising God, especially using the charismatic gift of tongues. After a beautiful time of worship in the Spirit, Deacon Larry Oney, her husband, gave a powerful keynote address calling everyone to be “Set Free by the Love of Jesus.” The evening concluded with an altar call for those who had never surrendered their lives completely to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. People of all ages came forward.
‘Late Night Worship’
A special service called “Late Night Worship” was led by young adult leaders featuring eucharistic adoration and benediction with Father Tim Hedrick. A youth band, NoLoudRocks, led by Leslie Bertucci, ministered throughout the evening.
One of the fruits of the Charismatic Renewal has been the founding of many new religious communities, both in the U.S. and abroad. Sister Lucy Lukasiewicz is a member of the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sister Lucy told of growing up in a faith-filled home in Nebraska and being led to join a fledgling charismatic Franciscan order of nuns in the panhandle of Texas.
For the third year in a row, the conference hosted a family session, marked by the presence of many families with children ranging in age from toddlers to pre-teens. Young people from the Work Crew provided breakout activities for three different age brackets. Families then received special prayer as a family unit from designated prayer teams.
Pope gave encouragement
Patti Mansfield spoke and showed a video about the international Catholic Charismatic Conference that drew 52,000 to Rome’s Olympic Stadium last June with Pope Francis.
“The pope knows the Charismatic Renewal from the inside,” Mansfield said. “He prays like he’s one of us.”
There was prayer for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, with a lengthy time of ministry in tongues, prophecy and intercession. Many said they felt a genuine move of the Holy Spirit. Joe Polito and the music ministry, Joyful Noise, led a spirited praise party after the session.
Aggie Neck of Marksville used Scripture to exhort participants to have expectant faith in the power of God to heal. Father Robert-Joel Cruz of Houma-Thibodaux led a prayer for healing, and Father Bill Henry of Greenville, Mississippi, led a eucharistic procession.
Father Simon Peter Engurait, originally from Uganda and now a priest serving in the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese, was celebrant and homilist of the concluding Mass. He stressed the importance of daily prayer, Scripture reading and sacrifice.
The 40th anniversary conference will be held April 1-3, 2016, with the theme, “His Mercy Reigns.” The conference’s steering committee chose that theme before hearing about Pope Francis’ call for a Jubilee Year of Mercy.