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10 - 13 June 1978
One hundred seventy five leaders from 50 countries gathered in Dublin, Ireland June 10-13 for the Third International Leaders Conference of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The conference was held at St. Patrick’s Training College, a teachers’ training institute in the north of the city. Talks and discussions focused on exercising Christian leadership in the Charismatic renewal on a national level.
The two previous international leaders conferences were both held in Rome, Italy. About 120 leaders from 34 countries attended the first conference in October 1973. They met at a time when the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church was just beginning to take on an international dimension. The second conference in May 1975 was held in conjunction with a pilgrimage that 10,000 members of the Charismatic Renewal made to Rome during the Holy Year. Some 220 leaders from 50 countries were present at that conference. By that time, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal was firmly rooted all around the world.
In his opening remarks, Ralph Martin, director of the International Communication office in Brussels, Belgium, described the situation of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal at the present time (A complete report of his talk follows).
The following morning, the Most rev. Dermot O’Mahony, Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin, addressed the delegates. “The Charismatic Renewal is bringing something new, fresh, and dynamic to the Church”, he told them. He also encouraged his listeners “to give a clear and authentic witness to Jesus today”, Looking out over the delegates, he remarked, “isn’t is fantastic that 2,000 years after Jesus gave the command to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth, here we are coming from the four corners of the world to receive the same call?”
For two days, the delegates at the conference spent the mornings in general sessions that were divided into two tracks, and the afternoons in smaller workshops with a specialized focus. The first track, which the majority of delegates attended, was led by Brian Smith of Australia and Fr. Fio Mascarenhas of Bombay, India. It centered on providing leadership for the Charismatic Renewal on a national level. The second track, which a smaller group of about 40 leaders attended, attempted to provide the new members of the International Council with insights on the situation of the Charismatic Renewal in the various regions of the world.
The workshops covered a variety of topics. They included “Sacraments” by Fr. Salvador Carillo of Mexico, “Music in Prayer Meetings” by Jim Cavnar of the USA, “Parish Renewal” by Fr. Tom Forrest of Puerto Rico, “Relating to Bishops” by the Most. Rev. Langton Fox of Great Britain and Fr. Michael Scanlan of the USA, “Charismatic Renewal Service Organization” by Victor Gutierrez of the Philippines, “Evangelization” by Fr. Diego Jaramillo of Colombia, “Christian Community” by Jacky Parmentier of France, “Renewing the Renewal” by Fr. Carlos Aldunate of Chile, and “Handling Conflicts” by Steve Clark of Brussels, Belgium.
In the course of the conference, delegates from different parts of the world took advantage of the larger meeting in order to hold smaller, regional meetings, some of which would not have been possible in their own areas of the world, because of the political situations there. Delegates from five Arabic–speaking countries in the Middle East and North Africa met together, as did black and white delegates from 10 African countries. One afternoon, over 30 delegates from Latin America gathered to discuss the upcoming meeting of the Latin American bishops that will be held in Puebla, Mexico in October 1978 – ten years after the famous Medellin meeting that spearheaded the Latin American bishops’ campaign for social development among the people of their countries. The delegates discussed ways in which the Charismatic Renewal in Latin America might support the bishops during their meeting, as well as share with them experiences in the Charismatic Renewal. One project they envision is a house of prayer in Puebla itself during the bishops’ meeting , where 80 members from the Charismatic Renewal from all of Latin America will be present to pray for the bishops.
The evening activities were varied. On one evening, the members of the new International Council answered questions concerning ecumenical covenant communities, women in the Renewal, the role of Mary, and organized social action. At the end of the discussion, all 175 delegates prayed over the members of the Council, asking the Lord to give them his wisdom and knowledge for the task that awaits them.
On Tuesday morning, the delegates at the conference celebrated the closing Eucharist of the conference in the chapel of St. Patrick’s College. Cardinal L.J. Suenens presided over the liturgy. Five bishops who were delegates at the conference – Archbishop Emmanul Milingo of Zambia, Bishop Langton Fox of Wales, Bishop Peter Kobayashi of Japan, Bishop Adrian Mkoba of Tanzania, and Bishop Daniel Verstraete of South Africa – concelebrated the closing Eucharist, along with about 75 other priest-delegates at the conference.
Cardinal Suenens delivered the closing address of the conference. In his talk, he impressed upon the leaders who had gathered, their responsibility to work for the integration of the Charismatic Renewal in the Church. Cardinal Suenens also told the delegates that they must be vigilant in setting aside time for their own personal formation, so that they would be better equipped to serve the Charismatic Renewal in their respective countries. He suggested that the leaders should study carefully the new Malines Document No. 2, which is being published by Servant Books (Ann Arbor) under the title, Ecumenism and Charismatic Renewal. The Cardinal encouraged the delegates to study these guidelines and take them to heart, since they tend to clarify the conditions for true ecumenism and authentic Charismatic Renewal.
These guidelines will be translated into Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese and Dutch. The French edition has already been published by Editions Le Centurion (Paris), under the title Oecumenisme et Renouveau Charismatique. The book is available from Pneumatheque, 43 rue du Commerce, 75005 Paris, France, at the cost of 24 francs.
Representatives at the conference agreed that a profound sense of unity and brotherhood pervaded the conference, in spite of the diverse cultures and languages present.
“The chance to meet and share with so many different cultures and backgrounds was the most enriching thing for me”, remarked Shayne Bennet, a delegate from Brisbane, Australia. “It was real encouragement to see how the Lord is leading his people, and to see how various countries are responding to the call of the Lord to renew his body”.
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter July-August 1978.
The evaluations of the 175 delegates to the Third International Leaders’ Conference in Dublin, Ireland last June show that 83% of them found the meeting “good, helpful, and well-organized”. Some 57% of the delegates singled out their conversations with other leaders as the “most helpful” aspect of the meeting, because it gave them a greater appreciation of the international dimension of the Renewal. Other aspects of the meeting that delegates liked were the workshops (26%), the tracks (25%9, the small group sharings (22%), and the communal worship times (20%).
About 30% of the delegates agreed that there was inadequate time for discussing as a group the material that was presented at the conference and for sharing their own personal experiences with the larger group. Another small percentage expressed disappointment with the quality of the workshops (13%) or the tracks (13%), Several delegates mentioned that they would have liked to receive more teaching on establishing prayer groups, use of the charisms, providing follow-up teaching, and integrating the Renewal into Church life. The delegates overwhelmingly agreed that another international leaders conference should be held at some future date. When asked what the topic should be, they listed a variety of items. The only one to be repeatedly mentioned, however, was “ministry to and formation of leaders”.
When asked to suggest topics for the agenda of the newly formed Council for the International Communication Office, a significant number of leaders said that the most pressing needs included better integration of the Charismatic renewal into the life of the Church, improving communications among leaders around the world, finding more ways to meet the needs of the Charismatic Renewal in various countries, providing more teaching for the formation of leaders, more guidance on establishing ecumenical relationships, and greater involvement in social action.
Over 20.000 people attended the closing liturgy of the 1978 International Conference on the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church in Dublin, Ireland, from June 15-18. For details on this event, we refer our readers to the many excellent reports that have appeared elsewhere, especially in New Covenant and New Creation. The following are post-conference reflections on the gathering.
There seemed to be two clear themes running through the conference from the very beginning. The theme of joy, good news, we have a Rescuer and the theme of suffering. The first gathering took place under the rain and in temperatures unseasonably low. Ralph Martin urged us to know the Lord Jesus as Rescuer, Savior. This had to be done “in season and out of season”. It was not easy to stand and praise God in the rain and cold; but that was a reflection that witnessing to the Gospel would not always be surrounded with joy and good things…Constantly we were being called to rejoice in the Good News, yet a number of prophecies were asking us to weep and enter into the heart of Jesus. This was no picnic we were on. It was good to have fellowship, to be together for prayer and praise; but witnessing to the Lord Jesus would be demanding and we would suffer on account of it…(Fr. Ian Petit O.S.B. of England, writing in New Creation).
…After thanking the Irish people for “one hundred years of sending missionaries to Trinidad”, then singing two songs during a workshop at the conference, the West Indians were besieged for the restr of the conference with greetings, embraces, and warm best wishes. It was far more that their words and songs that touched so many people, but the joyful unity among them as they praised the Lord wherever they went in prayer and song…But the West Indians were also deeply affected by the love, warmth and acceptance of those they met. At a prayer meeting of West Indians the night before returning home, one of the members expressed it beautifully in prayer: “Thank you, Lord, form making us a mixture of all cultures…for making our hearts warm and free…so that we could taste and touch so many people from all parts of your world. Thank you Lord, for our whole heritage…You have allowed us to experience our dignity in Christ Jesus”” (Fr. James Duffy of Carriacou, West Indies).
In Dublin, the Lord invited his people to create unity again by returning to the essential, to the only source of Salvation: the cross of Jesus, his death, and his resurrection. If joy and enthusiasm are the signs of our Christian hope. Several speakers reminded us at the same time that suffering, persecution, and the cross are the criteria of the credibility of our witness. (Francis Kohn, Paris, France, writing in Il Est Vivant).
Time will be the final test, but already the fruits of prayer, repentance, and the rediscovery of the sacramental life (adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel, the line for confession) and above all, perhaps, the notion of contagiously joyful Christianity with the immediate effects of fraternal communion transcending the struggles of the races and the classes-all of these made the Charismatic Movement as a whole credible for me. Like many others, I believe it is a new “good news” for our time, even if it entails containing it and situating it correctly in the heart of the Church with a thousand facets, that the Spirit of Pentecost has never abandoned (Journalist Francis Volle, writing in La Croix, Paris, France).
The following article, by Fr. Martin Tierney, originally appeared in the August issue of New Creation.
The weather was bleak and threatening when the first session of the 1978 International Conference on Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church opened, but by the final Eucharist attended by nearly 25,000 people, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The sun shone, not just in the sky, but in the hearts of the huge assembly.
They came from over 70 countries, with different color skins, and there was a vibrant, dynamic joy in the presence of Jesus that was reflected in the circles of dancing people as the long procession of 1,3000 priests left the stadium after the final Eucharist. Asked to comment on the conference, many participants only found words like “awe-inspiring”, “joy-filled”, “dignified”, and “amazing” to describe all the events over the four days. God did a mighty work that He is asking us to build on.
“Finally the man who has been evangelized becomes himself an evangelizer. This is the proof, the test of the genuineness of his own conversion” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, paragraph 24). Like an over-ripe fruit which drops to the ground and decays, it would be a failure on our part not to immediately begin to reap the benefits of what God did during the conference. Prayer group leaders ought to pray and discern how to organize and encourage corporate action by their groups to spread the Good News.
Symbolic action means taking one step forward at time. It is not enough to have a vision for evangelization. People need practical advice, daily help and encouragement in order to carry out the command of Jesus to “go forth”. Prayer groups could decide to undertake a pilot project, either of street evangelization or of practical service within their local area with a view to letting their light shine and so draw all men to Christ. The longer we wait, the better chance there is that our human weaknesses, the attacks of Satan, or our own lethargy will overcome us and quench our spirit of evangelization. “Don’t worry what you’ve to say, don’t worry because on that day, God’s Spirit will speak in your heart”. It is easy to make excuses not to speak of Jesus: lack of knowledge, fear, no time, are just a few of the most common excuses one hears to justify inaction. Yet if the desire of God’s heart is that all men come to knowledge of the Truth, then He would not ask us to do anything without empowering us to carry it out.
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter September-October 1978.
The 1978 International Conference on the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church will be held in Dublin, Ireland, from June 15-18. It will be proceeded by a three-day meeting of national leaders in the worldwide Charismatic Renewal.
The decision to hold the international conference in Dublin was made after members of the conference committee investigated the facilities available in various cities around the world and submitted their recommendation to the international consultants of the International Communication Office for their approval. Everyone agreed that Ireland’s rich spiritual heritage makes it a particularly suitable place to host such a conference. I am sure that in the 1978 International Conference in Dublin there will be a rich spiritual exchange between the historical spirituality of Ireland and the renewal God is now bringing to the Church through the prayer of Pope John XXIII and the encouragement of Pope Paul VI.
The 1978 International Conference will be the second international conference to take place outside the United States. The first one was in Rome in 1975 and 10,000 people attended. Conference organizers expect more that 10,000 people to travel to Ireland in 1978 to renew their spiritual life.
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter June-July 1977.