Please contact us to request permission to publish the material on this site. email now
26 - 31 October 1998
9th Rome International Leaders Conference in Fiuggi
Let the fire fall again!
Thirteen hundred participants from over 80 countries gathered in Fiuggi near Rome for the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Leaders Conference. The theme was Let the Fire Fall Again. This was both a prayer to the Holy Spirit for a fresh outpouring of grace, as well as a challenge to the conferees to renew their relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
After having time of praise and testimonies together, each morning the participants sub-divided into three special focus groups: one for youth leaders; one group for Servant Leaders, and one for members of National Renewal Service Groups. Each group spent the remainder of the morning in sessions focusing on their particular interests and needs.
In the afternoon the groups convened again but this time in five language groups: These met to discuss issues raised in the morning sessions. After their discussions, small groups could be seen sharing and praying for one another. Many have reported that this time of sharing with other brothers and sisters from around the world was one of the most treasured experiences of the conference.
In every day of the conference, there was a marvelous celebration of the Eucharist. James Cardinal Stafford, President for the Pontifical Council for the laity, celebrated one of these celebrations. He was joined by other bishops and over one hundred delegate priests. The Cardinal challenged his audience to consider what they are really asking God for and to follow the example of Jesus crucified if the truly want to experience the fire of Gods live in their lives.
Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, the Capuchin preacher for the Papal Household, preached in one other Eucharist. In his enthralling address, Fr Cantalamessa focused on the ministry of Jesus that flowed from His baptism in the Spirit, after He came out of the Jordan River. Fr Raniero then urged the faithful to be open to the action of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Every day came to conclusion with the evenings spent in prayer and ministry. In one evening Fr Rufus Pereira of India led the congregation in a time of prayer and healing. Another evening was led by Matteo Calisi, an Italain ICCRS Council member and Pastor Giovanni Traettino, a leader in the Pentecostal Church in Italy. Together they sang and witnessed how the love of Jesus can draw all of us together. The two men urged those present to grant forgiveness and reconciliation for all who needed it.
Patty Gallagher Mansfield of the United States, in yet another evening, told the audience that the recipe for the New Evangelization was Mary and the Holy Spirit. She spoke of Mary saying a continual yes to God, and encouraged the group to be docile to the Spirit as Mary was.
A peak moment during the conference was the private audience with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. The conference music ministry from Malta which had ably served at the conference all week led the group in song in Pope Paul VI Hall while waiting for the Pontiffs arrival. Charles Whitehead, President of ICCRS and on behalf of all Catholic Charismatics, thanked the Holy Father for the warm support he has given the Renewal, as well as the guidance he has offered it.
In his address, the Holy Father encouraged those present to persevere in their service of leadership. He urged the leaders to strive for unity, specifically by keeping strong ties with the ecclesial authority of the universal Church, as well as the local Church. The Holy Father also asked those present to continue in their efforts of formation for their people.
After his speech, the Holy Father greeted the ICCRS council members and staff as they came forward to be introduced. Leaving the hall, many people were moved to tears of joy to have this opportunity to meet with the temporal leader of the Church.
The conference came to an end with an inspiring message by Ralph Martin, an internationally recognized leader in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Ralph spoke of the Holy Father and the prophetic nature of his pontificate, his teaching and his life. Citing several texts from the Popes writings especially Tertio Millenium Adveniente. Mr Martin showed how dramatic these times are and how courageous and generous must be the response of Christians for the service of the Gospel.
Ralph also pointed to Mary as a prophetic sign in our times. He noted the message of Fatima and urged all present to heed the advice of our Mother in following the call of her son.
At the concluding session, Sr Nancy Kellar of the United States, summed up the prophetic word of the conference. She pointed out that there seemed to be three phrases to the word that emerged throughout the week. First, the Lord said come and He invited us to draw close to Himself. The He said, Let me heal you and cleanse you as He did a mighty work in the hearts of His people. Finally, the Lord said Go as He sent His people out to take the message of His love to all the nations.
Perhaps the best summary of what took place during the conference was given by Oreste Pesare, ICCRS Director, when he said, Because of all of you, and by the grace of God, this tent, for one week has become a city of the Spirit.
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter November-December 1998.
On October 30th at 12 noon, delegates to the Fiuggi Conference received the special blessing of a private audience with His Holiness, Pope John Paul II. Following is the salute given on behalf of ICCRS to the Holy Father and the address which His Holiness gave in turn to the delegates.
The Address of the Holy Father
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In greeting the International Conference for Catholic Charismatic Leaders “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world” (Rom 1:8). The Catholic Charismatic Renewal has helped many Christians to rediscover the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, in the life of the Church and in the world, and this rediscovery has awakened in them a faith in Christ filled with joy, a great love of the Church and a generous dedication to her evangelizing mission. In this year of the Holy Spirit, I join you in praise of God for the precious fruits which he has wished to bring to maturity in your communities and, through them, in the particular Churches.
As leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, one of your prime tasks is to safeguard the Catholic identity of the charismatic communities spread throughout the world, stirring them always to maintain a close and hierarchical link with the Bishops and the Pope. You belong to an ecclesial movement, and the word ‘ecclesial’ implies a precise task of Christian formation, involving a deep convergence of faith and life. The enthusiastic faith which enlivens your communities must be accompanied by a Christian formation which is comprehensive and faithful to the Church’s teaching. From a solid formation will spring a spirituality deeply grounded in the sources of the Christian life and capable of responding to the crucial questions posed by the culture of our day. In my recent Encyclical Letter, Fides et Ratio, I warned against a fideism which fails to recognize the importance of the work of reason not only for an understanding of the faith, but even for the act of faith itself.
The theme of your Conference, ‘Let the Fire Fall Again!’ recalls the words of Christ: “I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49). As we look to the Great Jubilee, these words resound with all their force. The word of God made flesh has brought to us the fire of love and the truth which saves. On the threshold of the Third Millennium of the Christian era, how great is the evangelical challenge: “go and work in the vineyard today” (Mt 21:28)!
I accompany your Conference with my prayers, trusting that it will bear rich spiritual fruit for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal throughout the world. May Mary, Bride of the Spirit and Mother of Christ, watch over all that you do in the name of her Son. To all of you, to your communities and to your loved ones, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.
The Salute of Charles Whitehead, President of ICCRS, to the Holy Father
Holy Father, we the Council members and staff of ICCRS, International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, with more than 1,200 leaders of the Charismatic Renewal from 80 countries, greet you and wish to thank you for granting us this special audience in the year which you have dedicated to a re-discovery of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the Church, something which is very much at the heart of the Charismatic Renewal. We bring you greetings, Holy Father, not only from ourselves but also from the Catholic Charismatic Renewal throughout the world, and we wish you many blessings for Sunday, November 1st, when you will celebrate the anniversary of your ordination to the priesthood. It is also a great joy to be here today with the bishops who are taking part in our Conference, Monsignor Dembowski and Monsignor Koubo.
We come, Holy Father, from families, parishes, communities, prayer groups and special ministries, all actively engaged in the life and mission of the Church as we approach the year 2000, and each of us can give personal witness to the life-changing activity of the Spirit in our hearts through our Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
We have spent this week together in prayer, celebration, study and fellowship.
-In our prayer for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon each of us personally and upon the Church throughout the world, so that we may all be better equipped and ready to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ, and so may experience more fully the grace of the sacrament of our baptism.
-In our celebrations of the Eucharist, the sacrament of reconciliation, and in our times of joyful praise and worship.
-In our study of the Word of God and in the teaching of the Church, given to prepare us to be better leaders and servants of those the Lord has brought to us, using the gifts of the Holy Spirit under the guidance of our pastors.
-In our fellowship as sons and daughters of the living God, young and old alike, priests and people, as we have prayed with one another and committed ourselves to serving our Lord and each other with joy and love.
Holy Father, we remember with gratitude the words of encouragement and guidance you have spoken to us at other meetings and we come to you today as a sign of our fidelity to you, the successor of Peter, and to seeks your guidance again.
We recall with joy our meeting with you earlier this year at the great feast of Pentecost, when you reminded us and all those from the new communities and ecclesial movements that the institutional and charismatic graces of the Holy Spirit are co-essential to the configuration of the Church and you encouraged us to be docile and open to the gifts of the Spirit, given for the benefit of the whole Church.
We have been praying for you, Holy Father, during the week, and we want to encourage you in all that you are called to do in your service of the Church, and in the clear spiritual leadership you give to us all.
Please accept the assurance of our prayers now and every day, of our fidelity, our affection, and our loyalty, as we humbly ask your Apostolic Blessing on those of us who are here with you and also on those we represent in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal throughout the world.
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter November-December 1998.
ICCRS International Leaders’ Conference Fiuggi, Italy 1998
At the Conference, there were three tracks for Youth, NSC, and Servant leaders. Part of the time was spent in small sharing groups, and here is a brief summary of the work of the English -speaking leaders’ groups. These are summaries of the notes made, and cannot reflect everything discussed in the groups. Lack of space in our Newsletter also limits this report, but the ICCRS Council will be studying all the notes submitted after the small group discussions.
THE YOUTH LEADERS TRACK
The leaders talked about the need for balance in their lives, how they had learned to say “no” so that they could concentrate on priorities. Ministry could never be a substitute for personal time with the Lord, for prayer and the sacraments. Fatigue and burn-out were an ever present risk, and relationships with other brothers and sisters were important. It was essential to spend time with young people, just being among them. Leaders’ personal lives must be an example, a witness -- it’s no good being so busy with “ministry” that there’s no time to love and serve the young people. It’s not enough just to get them excited about Jesus, teaching and practical advice are essential so they can sustain a personal relationship with the Lord.
THE NSC AND SERVANT LEADERS TRACKS
The leaders in both these tracks talked about keeping their relationship with the Lord fresh, and agreed that “First Love” isn’t just a matter of feelings -- it’s an on-going process of faithfulness to the Lord. Our relationship must be sustained by a life of prayer using the gift of tongues, by frequent reception of the sacraments, by making time for him. This also helps us to cope with disappointments and difficulties. To keep our “First Love” alive it’s helpful to share personal testimonies, to be part of a small fellowship group, to acknowledge our weaknesses and failures, to pray with each other. We need to be aware that pride is a constant danger, especially when we take ourselves too seriously. It’s helpful to talk over problems with those we disagree with, and to ensure that our attitudes are right in dealing with difficulties. Faith, commitment, enthusiasm, trust in the Lord, and a willingness to evangelise all need to be constantly renewed in us. We must be truly charismatic, knowing who we are and what our calling is.
In discussions about the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the leaders agreed that in some areas it was growing, exciting things were happening, it was having an effect both in the Church and in society, whereas elsewhere it was flat and people were tired and apathetic. It was important not to focus on feelings or on signs and wonders, but to trust God and to be faithful to what he asked. Many misunderstandings are encountered, and the CCR is often seen as too Protestant, emotional ,concentrating on tongues, healings and hand raising, whilst neglecting Tradition and devotion to Mary and thus losing its Catholic identity. When priests are involved there seem to be less problems but leaders themselves often lack a clear understanding of the mission and vision of the CCR. Deep, on-going formation for leaders is vital.
Many misunderstandings could be resolved through regular dialogue between bishops, priests, religious and laity to explain the mission and vision of the CCR. There needs to be more humility when dealing with those who oppose the CCR, more prayer and intercession, but also a clear understanding that the heart is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the charisms. These are usually best introduced through the Life in the Spirit Seminars, which can be presented in parish as a course in basic evangelisation. Most prayer groups are using the charisms, especially the gift of tongues, and it’s important to train leaders to recognise, encourage, and call forth the charisms using proper discernment, and always taking care to avoid domination by individuals.
When it comes to serving in the Church, we should all be ready to be fully involved in the life of the parish. We should serve in those spiritual, liturgical, practical, and charitable areas for which our gifts are most suited. For example, there is a great openness in the CCR to organizing ecumenical gatherings and joint events which promote understanding and dialogue. Such activities also require a deepening of our Catholic roots, so that we do not lose our identity when facing questions in areas of faith and doctrine.
A general challenge faced by all leaders is how to balance family life, work, personal prayer life, and the mission of the CCR. Sometimes too much structure with too many meetings stifles the Spirit, leads to a loss of spontaneity, and takes up too much time. Another challenge is the training and development of the younger generation, with an opportunity for them to prepare for leadership. It was unanimously accepted that the answer to most problems is faithfulness in prayer and in the spiritual life, good witness, and perseverance. Many of the comments made will not come as a surprise. The same positive things and the same difficulties are to be found in the CCR all over the world, but it is encouraging to know that we are part of a great work of the Spirit, and are supported by many brothers and sisters who share the same joys and sorrows.
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter January-February 1991.
“Let the fire Fall, Again!” is the theme of both the leaders’ general Conference, sponsored and organized by the ICCRS Council, to be held from October 25 to November 1, 1998 at the Palaterme of Fiuggi, Italy.
150 youth leaders and 450 members of National Service Committees, together with other 1900 key leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal worldwide, will be invited to pray for a new Pentecostal outpouring on the Church of the Third Millennium. This gathering will not just be a fellowship experience among leaders, but is hoped to be a clear witness of the dynamic activity of the Holy Spirit wills for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal to take in the Church’s mission of integral evangelization in the 21st century.
John Paul II, in Tertio Millennio Adveniente has invited us to reflect deeply on the Holy Spirit’s presence, power and activity in today’s Church and world, in order to better prepare ourselves for the immense tasks and numerous challenges of the coming millennium. Moreover, as the Catholic Charismatic Renewal enters the fourth decade since its humble beginnings, we must ask ourselves these hard questions: How can we in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal fruitfully contribute to the continued up building of the Church, particularly in the active promotion of the laity, in the meaningful exercise of the charisms in diverse ministries, and in the effective carrying out of evangelization in our hi-tech age?
Today’s world presents vast challenges and pressing demands. A new Pentecost is indeed needed for us in the Renewal to be empowered, equipped, and enabled once again to do the immense work of God in this age with “many wonders and signs” too. During this assembly we shall pray for a renewed baptism in the Holy Spirit, so that we could boldly confront the multiple challenges and meaningfully address the difficult demands of the coming decades with power, love and good judgment in the Holy Spirit.
In this assembly, the invited 2500 youth and adult leaders of the Renewal shall worship together, as well as shall spend quite moment in actively listening to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit regarding His movement and direction for the catholic Charismatic renewal. Also, listening to noted speakers, who will be sharing learned reflections on various pneumatological topics, they shall be expected to better understand the workings of the Holy Spirits in our times. Ample time shall also be allotted in the program for practical ministry and the dynamic exercise of the charisms among the participants. Personal testimonies and sharing experiences among the participants will enliven fellowship time.
Prayer and hope
We are, therefore, appealing to you to please this upcoming important event in your personal and communal prayers. Just as the first disciples prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost, so, too, must we earnestly pray for a fresh outpouring of the Power from high, in order to experience that same Power in a new way in our own lives as well as in the whole Church.
We need the Holy Spirit to fire us up once again with His energizing love. We need a fresh anointing by the Power from on high, so that we could perform His “wonders and signs” in a modern still unconverted world. We need the Principal Agent of Evangelization to show us how to proclaim the Good News to the peoples of today with a new fervor and enthusiasm, with new approaches and methods, and with new dynamic expressions of our faith. We need the Indwelling Spirit to bring us all into one holy family of God. Finally, we need the Paraclete to steadily move us towards the gradual realization of our hope for the “new heavens and the new earth”.
“For this reasons, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have received through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim 1:6-7).
Fr. Bart Pastor
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter July-August 1997.
The International Leaders’ Conference to be held in Fiuggi, Italy on October 26-31, 1998 will not just be another leaders’ conference. It will be an event. Developing the general theme “Let the Fire Fall, Again!” it promises to be a new wave of revival in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
Consider the signs:
For sure, Fiuggi will be an unforgettable event for those who will readily respond to this call of the Spirit. It seems the Holy Spirit is showing us the way to enliven once again the Charismatic Renewal in our Church, so that with a new fire in our hearts, His purposes and designs for this movement will be further realized. The Holy Spirit is clearly moving us together through a common experience toward a new direction, a new wave, a new trust, and a new expression of Christian life in the new century.
The Fiuggi event will be our re-awakening. It will be a time of inspiration and encouragement. It will be a rekindling of the flame of love and power. It will offer us a new challenge to live out the gospel of God’s saving love in the world of the new Millennium. Indeed, hopefully the Fiuggi event will be remembered for long as a new Pentecostal experience.
Would you like to be part of the Fiuggi event? Come, experience Pentecost in Fiuggi!
Fr. Bart A. Pastor
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter March-April 1998