ZENIT: 50 years later, what – in a few lines – do you recall of this famous week-end at Duquesne?
I have just written a book entitled As By A New Pentecost: Golden Jubilee Edition, now in many languages. It tells the story of the Duquesne Weekend in great detail through the testimony of us students who had the privilege to live those days. We were members of a small Scripture study group who read the Acts of the Apostles in preparation for a retreat February 17-19, 1967. Noting the dramatic change the apostles experienced after Pentecost, one of the students suggested we renew our Sacrament of Confirmation at the close of the retreat. He and I decided that the two of us would pray for a renewal of the graces we received when we were confirmed, even if no one else wanted to do so. On Saturday night I was drawn into the chapel and prayed a prayer of complete surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ as I knelt before the Blessed Sacrament. In the next moments I fell prostrate before the living God and was baptized in the Spirit. Many of the students were also drawn into the chapel over the next hours and there was a sovereign outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This event marked the beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Today, 50 years later, there are more than 120 million Catholics in every country of the world who have been baptized in the Spirit. This does not necessarily happen in dramatic ways but through a simple, sincere prayer for the Lord to release his Spirit within one’s life. Pope Francis has asked the Renewal to share this grace with the whole Church.
ZENIT: Pope Francis just had the whole Church pass through the Door of Mercy: what “renewal” does it mean for the “Renewal”?
We are all in need of constant conversion and the Holy Year of Mercy has given us the opportunity to repent and draw near to the heart of Jesus, source of mercy. Michelle Moran, President of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal just preached a retreat for women in Louisiana where I live. She said in this Golden Jubilee year we must “Travel light. Forgive quickly and move on.” Wonderful fruit from the Jubilee of Mercy.
ZENIT: What do you expect of the Jubilee in Rome together with the Holy Father next Pentecost?
I was a speaker at the gathering in Olympic Stadium Rome in June 2014 when the Holy Father surprised us with an invitation to celebrate Pentecost this year with him. What a joy to know that Pope Francis is personally familiar with the Renewal and with the grace of the baptism in the Spirit. He told us that the Renewal is a “current of grace in the Church and for the Church.” I’m praying that this encounter in Rome will enable all Catholics to welcome the grace of being baptized in the Spirit (mentioned in all four gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles). I pray that this meeting with the Pope will encourage everyone in the Church to yield to the charismatic gifts which are tools for the New Evangelization. In my book, I speak of three prophetic women who longed for a New Pentecost. One of them, Venerable Marie Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, known as Conchita, wrote about a future pope who would consecrate the world to the Holy Spirit. “One day not too far away, at the center of my Church, at Saint Peter’s there will take place the consecration of the world to the Holy Spirit, and the graces of this Divine Spirit, will be showered on the blessed Pope who will make it….It is my desire that the universe be consecrated to the Divine Spirit that he may spread himself over the earth in a new Pentecost”. How wonderful it would be if Pope Francis would fulfill this dream of Venerable Conchita.
ZENIT: What memories do you have of your (the Renewal’s) previous encounters with his predecessors: Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI?
February 18, 1967, when I was baptized in the Spirit on the Duquesne Weekend, one of our professors made this comment, “What is the bishop going to say when he hears that all these kids have been baptized in the Spirit!” I heard his words but had no idea that what had happened to a small group of university students would spark a worldwide outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What the Bishop of Rome has said about the Renewal is as follows: Pope Paul VI called the Renewal “a chance for the Church” in 1975. On May 30, 1998, Pope John Paul II said these powerful words, “Open yourselves docilely to the gifts of the Spirit! Accept gratefully and obediently the charisms which the Spirit never ceases to bestow on us.” Pope Benedict XVI on May 11, 2008, said, “Today I would like to extend this invitation to everyone: let us rediscover, dear brothers and sisters, the beauty of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.” It was my privilege to thank Pope Benedict XVI on the Vigil of Pentecost, 2006, in St. Peter’s Square for his support for the ecclesial movements. I met Pope Francis three times because of my involvement in the Charismatic Renewal: First at Olympic Stadium in 2014 when he acknowledged me by name as being present when the Renewal began, then at the Catholic Fraternity Conference audience later that same year, and finally at the International Retreat for Priests where I was a speaker in 2015. Our Holy Father knows the Charismatic Renewal.
ZENIT: What would you like to share with the youth of your very first experience of the “outpouring” of the Spirit? How can young people have the same experience today?
Sometimes people ask me why the Lord would have chosen an insignificant group of young people in beginning a significant movement of the Holy Spirit. My answer: it’s God’s style! He wanted to make it clear that it was His doing and not ours. God often chooses young people as His instruments because youth are willing to accept a challenge. We read in Acts 2:17, “your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions…”I didn’t know what the future would hold when I surrendered unconditionally to God in that upper room chapel on the Duquesne Weekend. What I had planned for my life was nothing compared to the glorious adventure of living life in the Spirit. The Lord gave me a promise from His word soon after I was baptized in the Spirit. “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). And He has wonderfully fulfilled that promise in my life by giving me a holy husband, beautiful children and grandchildren and a part to play in this New Pentecost. I’ve traveled to all five continents over the past 50 years to announce the grace of the baptism in the Spirit. What should you do? Just pray and surrender your life to God. Ask for a release of the graces of your baptism and confirmation. Remember what Jesus said, “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you….If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven GIVE the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (cf. Luke 11:9-13).
On the NET
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