Catholics involved in charismatic renewal are marking the twentieth anniversary of the movement’s introduction into the Roman Catholic Church.

In February 1967, a group of students and faculty at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University met for a weekend retreat to meditate on Acts and to discuss David Wilkerson’s charismatically oriented book The Cross and the Switchblade. During the retreat, nearly everyone present was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Word about events at Duquesne spread to other schools in the Midwest, particularly the University of Notre Dame, Michigan State University, and the University of Michigan. Hundreds of Catholics at those schools joined the charismatic movement, some with the help of erstwhile foes in the Protestant Pentecostal movement.

In the 1970s, many charismatic Catholics formed large covenant communities. And barely six years into the movement, at least 20,000 Catholics converged on Notre Dame to hear Belgian Cardinal Leon Joseph Suenens, himself a Catholic Pentecostal, endorse the movement. In 1975, Pope Paul VI added his endorsement during an international charismatic conference in Rome, and a charismatic mass was celebrated in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Catholics showed up 18,000 strong in Kansas City for the 1977 Conference on Charismatic Renewal in the Christian Churches. And they formed the National Service Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, which coordinates spiritual renewal conferences around the country.

Internal Divisions

But internal divisions began eating away at the movement. In the early 1980s, the two hubs of the renewal, centered in the Word of God community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the People of Praise community in South Bend, Indiana, parted ways ...

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