Stacey March on A Holy Spirit Awakening in the Church

Fire flickers at an Easter vigil held at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Fargo, North Dakota on March 31, 2018. | Paulette Osborne

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of BCNN1.

In 1967, a group of students from Duquesne University, as well as a few students from neighboring universities, gathered to pray, armed with two resources: the Book of Acts from the Holy Bible and The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson.

The ways in which God showed up to this meager yet hungry group, evidenced by personal God-encounters and prayers in an unknown language, at a small retreat center called The Ark and the Dove in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, birthed a Holy Spirit awakening within the Catholic Church.

The Holy Spirit outpouring at Duquesne quickly spread to campuses of other Catholic universities, particularly the University of Notre Dame, where students began to have their own experiences with the Holy Spirit. These encounters were evidenced by a renewed vitality in prayer, the gift of tongues and other charisms (gifts given by the power of the Holy Spirit), and expressions of deep, heartfelt worship.

“In the early days, we were known as ‘Catholic Pentecostals,’” explains Walter Matthews, executive director of the National Service Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Locust Grove, Virginia. “Later, Cardinal Suenens from Belgium, who had surreptitiously visited the Renewal in the United States, suggested a name change so as to better fit into Catholic understanding. Thus, we became known as the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.”

As the Renewal spread nationally, South Bend, Indiana, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, became two key centers, as early leaders who emerged subsequent to the Pittsburgh experience were based primarily in these two cities. Internationally, Notre Dame played a significant role because at the time, the famed university served as a place where missionaries from other countries would come for refreshment. As Matthews explains, “A number of these missionaries encountered Renewal groups, were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and returned to their countries, causing the Renewal to spread quickly outside of the United States.”

To foster this new awareness and way of life within the Catholic faith, two primary outlets emerged (which are still in existence today): prayer groups and covenant communities. Prayer groups were created to meet once a week in church halls, basements, classrooms, and school buildings for the purpose of prayer, studying Scripture, worship, and to exercise the gifts of the Spirit. Covenant communities were formed as a way to emphasize more intentionality in relationships and the daily joining of lives with other believers, using the early church as a model.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stacey March