Seminar Celebrates the Holy Spirit’s Gifts
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
September 6, 2018
HUNTLEY—While on retreat in May 1990, young Max Striedl was encouraged to intentionally ask the Holy Spirit to come into his life. He did — and he didn’t feel anything happen.
“But everything was different,” now-Father Striedl said in his talk at a Sept. 1 seminar at St. Mary Parish in Huntley. “My faith took a big jump.”
He described how after the retreat he began to attend daily Mass and read Scripture regularly, saying that he also had the courage he needed to talk with his parents about the priesthood — something he had not been able to do previously.
“Jesus became real to me,” Father Striedl said, adding that the Holy Spirit also “gave me a real sense of hopefulness that has never left me.”
Father Striedl was the first speaker at the Gifts of the Spirit seminar, attended by  225 people from places as diverse as Chicago and Sandwich. 
The annual event at St. Mary Parish in Huntley has been offered since 2007 by the parish’s New Life prayer group. It now includes speakers and volunteers from several other charismatic prayer groups around the Fox Valley.
New Life prayer group leader, Howie Gielow, identified the two objectives of the day as first, to briefly share the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding charismatic spirituality and second, to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit.
“We are all called to live the life of Christ,” he said. His wife, Marti, said that organizers hoped the day would be full of joy and celebration and also serve to encourage the Church.
Father Striedl’s talk was about the history of the Holy Spirit’s action in the Catholic Church. He called the day “very Catholic,” noting that “since Day One” at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has been ready to pour forth His many gifts to the Church. 
Once we make the decision to “intentionally make Jesus Christ the Lord of our life,” he said, we will need help from God to do so, and “the Holy Spirit provides that power.”
The Holy Spirit is, he said, “kind of vague” for many people and probably is “the most misunderstood (person) of the Trinity.”
But living in the “fullness of the Spirit,” he said, should be “the normal state of Christian living for all of God’s children ... Normal daily Christian life would be an amazing adventure.”
“How do we claim the Holy Spirit?” he asked. First, we trust Him; second we have faith; and third, he said, “We ask, having confidence that we will receive the Holy Spirit ... ask (God the Father) to pour the Holy Spirit on you.”
As the day progressed, speakers from seven Fox Valley parish charismatic groups gave talks on the Holy Spirit’s gifts of prophesy, knowledge, wisdom, discernment, faith, healing and miracles.
St. Mary parochial vicar Father Sean Grismer gave a rousing talk on one of the more difficult topics to explain: tongues and interpretation of tongues.
“The gift of tongues is the language of love,” Father Grismer said, comparing it to the babbling understood by parents as their child attempts to learn language. 
He shared his personal experiences of learning and growing in that gift of tongues, gradually coming to its use in prayer as a “vocalized contemplation” where “my soul is being real with God.” 
He described finding himself one time singing in tongues while praying the Stations of the Cross alone, verbalizing a “deep, sad melody” where he experienced a “communion with God in a way our minds can’t understand.”
Speaking and interpreting tongues, Father Grismer said, is “connatural (and) not part of our nature. But (we) can use them in a normal manner.” His talk included some of the ins and outs of using the two gifts in a charismatic prayer group setting.
The day, which began with adoration and concluded with Benediction, also featured what was described later by speaker Donna Albert as a “very reverent baptism in the Holy Spirit (where) many attendees were deeply moved.”
The Holy Spirit “blows where He will,” Father Striedl said in his opening talk. He counseled those gathered against seeing faith as a matter of just following the rules of the Church.
While doing so is good, he said, limiting faith to those rules means that many Catholics “miss out on having an amazing relationship with Jesus.” 
We have to make a conscious decision to ask and welcome the Holy Spirit, Father Striedl concluded. “You can become right here today a new creation.”