Prayers and Praise Celebrate 50 Years of Renewal
By Amanda Hudson
November 9, 2017
LOVES PARK—The diocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services welcomed people who were introduced to the Catholic Charismatic Movement in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and 2000s to an afternoon of prayer and praise on Nov. 5 at St. Bridget Parish center, here.
Ron Bergman, diocesan liaison for CCRS, opened the event with a brief overview, noting the roots of the movement stem from Pentecost. 
In 1901, Pope Leo XIII dedicated the 20th century to the Holy Spirit, Bergman said, and the Pentecostal movement began to grow in Christian communities.
The Catholic Church in the United States held its first Catholic Charismatic conference in 1967. It welcomed 120 people to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. 
By 1976, 33,000 people gathered for a renewal conference, a year after a large Catholic charismatic conference was held in Rome.
To date, an estimated 125 mil-lion Catholics have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Bergman said.
The Nov. 5 celebration welcomed Bill Richart, a Catholic lay evangelist and director of music ministry at St. Joseph Church in Howell, Mich. 
Richart and his friends, introduced as “Gina and Eddie of Ft. Wayne, Ind.,” played and led worship and praise music and a time of personal prayer that followed.
Referring to the 50th anniversary, Richart focused his audience forward.
“If you’re here, we’re pressing forward,” he said. “God has something good for you today. We give thanks for 50 years ... but we want the new thing for you ... We’re going to ask the Lord in a new way to open the eyes of our hearts.”
“We need,” he added, “to have an explosion of the Spirit! ... We thank God for before, but we press forward with our eyes toward the prize!”
Father Christopher Kuhn, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Elgin and associate spiritual director for CCRS in the Rockford Diocese, celebrated Mass, accompanied by Deacon Jovie Reyes of St. Bridget Parish.
He focused his homily on the Sunday Gospel, where Jesus called the religious leaders of his time “hypocrites.”
“It makes me anxious, this idea of hypocrisy,” Father Kuhn said. “Every man and woman tries to be consistent ... in what we say and do.
Real people have flaws and problems to face in what Father Kuhn called “dark places (that) need the light of the Holy Spirit.”
The saints, he said, “weren’t perfect. What made them heroic examples is that they kept trying. They were women and men of hope.”
Pointing to the sacrament of confirmation and the 50 years of renewal, Father Kuhn said, “I think we realize, we can’t do it alone. We need the dynamism of the Holy Spirit to help us.
When the Holy Spirit confirms us, he said,  “He strengthens us, fortifies us.”
It is that Holy Spirit strength, he said “that allows us to cooperate” with God’s plans for us. 
“When God looks at you, he sees that sign that you have been anointed” at confirmation, Father Kuhn explained.
“We’re called to maturity through that confirmation,” he added. “I pray for that today — greater faith, greater trust.”
Pointing to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a bold, faithful and courageous example, Father Kuhn concluded that God “wants you to be authentic as a son or daughter of God.”