October 24, 2017

A Day of Renewal of Exhortation and Challenge

A Day of Renewal of Exhortation and ChallengeOn Saturday, Sept. 16, approximately 160 charismatic Catholics converged on the Cardinal Keeler Center in Harrisburg for the annual Day of Renewal to celebrate the Jubilee anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) with the theme The Holy Spirit – Fountain of Grace.

Father Francis Karwacki, diocesan liaison, read a welcome letter from Bishop Ronald Gainer, in which he acknowledged the past 50 years of the Renewal, encouraging continued reliance on the ever-flowing graces of the Holy Spirit into the future, and taking time each day for reflection so as to “have life more abundantly.”

Keynote speaker, Father Bill Cosgrove, CCR, liaison for the Archdiocese of New York, opened his morning presentation with a visual detailing of the “water flowing beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east …” from Ezekiel Chapter 47, portraying it as waters of Baptism in the Church. This water formed an increasingly deep river that God measured off in 3 sections for Ezekiel to walk through, first ankle-deep, then waist-deep, and, finally, swimming-deep.

Father Cosgrove interpreted this on a personal level for us as our own conversion to Jesus, to community and as evangelizers. Those familiar with the Scripture passage know that, as the river continues, God points to it as a source of life with its many fruit trees and fish, that it is a source of food and medicine. How fitting when Pope Francis tells us to go after the marginalized, to be the “field hospital!”

Father Cosgrove challenged those gathered to explore new methods of evangelization as they are being called out of our comfort zone to be fishers of men, growing from crawling, to walking, to running. Reminding us that Einstein’s definition of crazy was to do same thing over and over and expect different results, and that our culture offers diversion and avoidance, Father Cosgrove encouraged the crowd to “think like a fish” that wants to avoid capture, to “go deep,” get them on the hook, persevere, wear them out, and reel them in.

A Day of Renewal of Exhortation and ChallengeReturning to Scripture for his afternoon presentation, Father Cosgrove emphasized this trust in God as Peter’s in John 21:1-14, when he obeyed Jesus and put out his net “on the other side of the boat.” Peter trusted Jesus even though fishing was not his expertise, and, in doing so, Peter became a “fisher of men.”

Father Karwacki reminded the gathering that Father Cosgrove stated that the task of the institutional Church is to discern the movements of the Holy Spirit in the renewal movements occurring in the Church, and to encourage those that are discerned to be valid movements by fostering their growth. He also stated that the United States Bishops, in 1969, through a committee, encouraged priests to shepherd the Charismatic Prayer Groups in their parishes. As Father Cosgrove reflected on the growth of the Charismatic Renewal throughout the world in these past 50 years, he discerned that, as Jesus told St. Peter to take his boat out into the deep waters and lower his net, the Lord is calling the Charismatic Renewal to go out into the “deep” of the “New Evangelization” which Pope St. John Paul has called us to by using new methods and being open to new ways of evangelization as the Holy Spirit leads us in that call.

Sharing in the Jubilee anniversary milestone with their 50th year of marriage were Jim and Teresa Heller, from St. Joan of Arc Parish in Hershey, who were gift bearers at Mass.

Father Cosgrove concluded the day with a Healing Service, praying for wellness of body, mind and spirit to go forth refreshed for our mission as fishers of men.

Under the leadership of Mary Ann Campion, the diocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal service team meets on a regular basis to prepare for events such as the Day of Renewal and a winter workshop, as well as to keep abreast of regional, national and global events. Anyone wishing to assist with upcoming events is welcome to contact the team on our website at

A Grand Ultreya will be held by the Diocese of Harrisburg Cursillo Movement on Saturday, October 28, from 9:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. at the Cardinal Keeler Center, click here for more information.

(Lynne Huddleston is a member of the diocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal service team.)

By Lynne M. Huddleston, Special to The Witness

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