By Susan Gately - 21 June, 2019
In advance of the National Charismatic Renewal Conference which takes place tomorrow Saturday 22 June at the Concert Hall of the RDS, a Charismatic leader has welcomed the movement’s unification by Pope Francis under one banner, CHARIS.
The Pope used the feast of Pentecost to officially unite two umbrella organisations working for Charismatic Renewal communities and prayer groups.
Until then two organisations, both with offices in Rome, coordinated the movement: the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office (ICCRO) and the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships (CF).
“The challenge came last year from the Holy Father, originating in the Golden Jubilee celebrations we held in Rome in 2017 which thousands of us attended,” Sister Bridget Dunne, former co-chair of the National Services Committee, told CatholicIreland.net. “He said ‘Why have you got two international offices in Rome, both serving Charismatic Renewal? Why not come together, form one international service of communion and embrace all charismatic realities?’”
The new body, Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service (CHARIS), came into being just 11 days ago. Thanking the two former bodies, the Pope said they had blazed a trail.
“Today one thing ends and another begins. A new stage of this journey is beginning. A stage marked by communion between all the members of the charismatic family,” he said.
What is new can be destabilising, he continued. “In the beginning, there is a sense of uncertainty about the changes that newness brings. Sometimes we prefer our own way of doing things and we draw back from the rest. This is a temptation of the devil. Whenever anyone thinks: ‘No, my way is better’, or ‘I prefer the old to the new’, the devil is there, because he cuts me off from unity with everyone else.” He said that the Lord makes “all things new”. The Pope urged the participants to “share baptism in the Holy Spirit with everyone in the Church. It is the grace you have received. Don’t keep it to yourselves.”
Sister Bridget, who was present at the event, said it will make a difference having everyone represented by CHARIS. “In Ireland it will embrace a number of very vibrant ministries that have sprung out of Charismatic Renewal like Net Ministries and the Community of Nazareth, for example.”
She has compiled a list of Charismatic related ministries and prayer groups which could come under the CHARIS umbrella in Ireland. This includes 13 prayer groups and over 50 ministries/communities, including Alpha Ireland, Net Ministries, Céili Community, Community of Nazareth, Irish School of Evangelisation, Elation, Tine Network, Pure in Heart, Youth 2000, the Charis Community and the Parish Cell movement.
An information document clarifying the implications of the change for Ireland says the former National Service Committee, which was composed of diocesan representatives and others who represented an area of service, will be replaced with a new ‘National Service of Communion’ to include “all the different charismatic expressions – prayer groups, communities, ministries, activities, etc.”
Sister Bridget and Linda Walker from the Emmanuel Community will be the first co-chairs of CHARIS in Ireland.
“We are challenged to think wider and form a national service of communion – think wider, embrace all the Charismatic realities. We’ve heard that challenge. We weren’t quite sure what we were doing but we follow the Holy Spirit.”
The Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life has appointed 20 people to various services within CHARIS for a three-year period, which began on 9 June 2019. The first moderator of CHARIS will be Dr Jean-Luc Moens from Belgium. Dr Moens, together with Ruth Patterson, will address Saturday’s conference, which runs from 10.00 a.m. until 8.00 p.m.