There are signs that revival, low-key Pentecostal in style, may be on the way for the Roman Catholic Church. Tens of thousands of Catholics meet weekly in churches, homes, dorm rooms, and borrowed halls for Bible study, prayer, spirited gospel singing, and exercise of the “gifts of the Spirit”: healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues.

Indeed, the average Catholic Pentecostal meets one night with a small home group, another night with a large “prayer community.” The ranks have swelled in just four years to an estimated 50,000 American and Canadian Catholics.

Last month 5,000 registrants and about 500 gate-crashers crowded onto the Notre Dame University campus at South Bend, Indiana, for the Fifth International Conference on the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. There were street people, straight collegians and young professionals, middle-American adults of all ages and vocations, hundreds of priests and nuns, a smattering of Protestants, a few blacks. (Registration for the 1970 conference was 1,270, with some 10,000 to 20,000 in the movement at that time.)

“Let us proclaim right from the start that Jesus Christ is our King,” declared leader James Cavnar, 25, on the first night. The crowd responded with a standing ovation, cheers, and uplifted fingers in “One Way” signs. Without cue, the people burst into a chorus, “Jesus Is Lord.” Afterward, the rather startled Cavnar mildly rebuked: “This is not a spiritual jamboree. We are an assembly of believers gathered here for worship and praise.”

Amid the songs and prayers were testimonies. Teenager Chris Jaerling told how Catholic Pentecostals at Ann Arbor, Michigan, led her from drugs to Christ and into the Spirit-filled life. “Life isn’t hopeless now,” she beamed, and the ...

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