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13 - 17 September 1993
“Renewed by Listening to the Spirit”.
Fifteen hundred participants from over 90 countries gathered in Assisi for the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Leaders’ Retreat. Former gatherings were held in Rome and were conferences. But since this year the focus was on the spiritual foundations of leadership, the meeting took the form of a retreat/pilgrimage. Instead of input from a variety of speakers, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, gave a series of meditations as the retreat master. He developed the theme of the retreat: “Renewed by listening to the Spirit” and led his listeners to accept in ever deeper ways the Lordship of Jesus.
“We need”, he said, “to return to the cenacle, to get in touch with the essential.
Spirit was the normative experience for all baptized adult Christians in the early Church.
Father Emilien Tardif celebrated a Mass in which he prayed for healing. Sister Nancy Kellar led a session for the personal healing of the retreatants especially in their role of leadership. The music ministry was composed of an international group of musicians under Matteo Calisi.
Charles Whitehead speaks to Holy Father
The President of ICCRS, Charles Whitehead, greeted the Holy Father in the courtyard of the Pontifical Palace in Castel Gandolfo on behalf of the 1.400 retreatants assembled there.
We, the members of the International Council, with more than 14.00 leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal from 90 different countries, wish to thank you for granting us this audience.
We come from families, parishes, prayer groups, communities, and special ministries, all actively engaged in the life and in the mission of the Church.
We came as pilgrims to Assisi, the home of St. Francis, to make a five day retreat with Father Raniero Cantalamessa. During these days we have listened with open hearts to his catechesis, and we have prayerfully asked the Holy Spirit to renew the Catholic Charismatic Renewal by renewing each one of us personally, so that we might experience our Baptism more powerfully through a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
We have been joined at our retreat by a few special friends from the Anglican Orthodox, and Pentecostal churches, and together we have been invited to commit ourselves to a closer relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ, to an ever greater openness to the Holy Spirit, to humility, and to the loving service of God’s People in the Church and in the world, using the gifts of the Holy Spirit under the guidance of our pastors.
Holy Father, we remember with gratitude the words you spoke to our Council last year, when we celebrated 25 years of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and you gave praise to God with us for the many fruits it has borne in the life of the Church.
We have come to you today with our esteemed advisor, Monsignor Paul Cordes, to bring you greetings from the Catholic Charismatic Renewal all over the world, and to ask you to complete our retreat by again giving us your guidance and wisdom. We thank you for the inspiring teaching and leadership you give to the whole Church, and we want to encourage you in all that you are called to do in proclaiming the Gospel to the world.
Holy Father, we who come from many countries and represent more than 60 million Catholic men and women who have encountered the Holy Spirit in a new way through a personal baptism in the Holy Spirit, bring you our love and we assure you of our prayers and the prayers of the world- wide Catholic Charismatic Renewal. We humbly ask you, Holy Father, for your Apostolic Blessing.
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter November-December 1993.
The following is a sampling from various letters received from people who attended the ICCRS Retreat in Assisi
Thank you for the glorious experience of Assisi. I come home refreshed and renewed and wanting more of the Spirit. (Singapore)
Please extend our gratitude to your staff at the ICCRS office, members of the ICCRS Council, and to all who have been instrumental in making the Assisi retreat a truly blessed and fruitful religious experience. (Thailand)
Thank you for the wonderful retreat in Assisi. To be able to spend so much time in St. Francis’ hometown was truly a gift. For me, Father Cantalamessa was, as always, able to hit the nail on the head and help me identify areas in my life that need changing to get me back on the road to Jesus. (Canada)
Thank you for the organization of the Assisi retreat. For the fruit of the retreat is that the Lord wants me to live the words: “we live for the Lord, not for ourselves”. This death to ourselves is not easy but with the graces received it is possible in the joy of the Holy Spirit. (France)
Ever since departing Assisi we have been meaning to write and thank you for making the retreat a great success. Fr. Cantalamessa was an inspiration and a joy as were the other speakers. The music ministry was tremendous and their tape evokes great memories of the retreat. (England)
Thank you on behalf of the delegation from Colombia and the CCR in Latin America. It was a great miracle according to Latin American bishop at the retreat: the environment, the meeting place, the organization, the conferences, the music, and, in everything we lived, all was for the glory of God.
There was nothing new – but in the power of the Holy Spirit all was new; there was nothing prodigious – but in the work of God everything had a marvelous form. I believe that this retreat will mark a new point for the Charismatic Renewal in the world: to have 1500 leaders say that they need conversion, that they ought to change their lives, that they are to walk always in the humility of the gospel is a miracle. Personally I experienced it and I asked the Lord to give me the grace of conversion. (Colombia)
The retreat was truly wonderful, a deep, real spiritual experience. It was truly a mountain top experience where I was renewed and further empowered by the spirit. It was wonderful to be totally free to worship and pray to be filled, all our needs were taken of and we were far from ordinary responsibilities. With 1.500 people plus, amidst all the riches of our faith – THAT beggars description and assessment.
One delegate from our group was cured of deafness (of long standing) in her right ear during the prayer for healing with Fr. Tardif. Unfortunately, she was too shy to go forward and say so. (Kenya)
Just a note to say thanks for the great Assisi experience. I was healed of arthritis during Fr. Tardif’s healing prayer which was as great a surprise as it was a delight. Please thank the team – they were remarkable. Fr. Cantalamessa was without doubt the best spiritual director we could have had. Please thank him again. (United States)
First of all, thanks for making it possible for me (an observer from the Protestant tradition) and my co-workers to attend the retreat in Assisi. It was an unforgettable experience that deeply moved us.
Father Cantalamessa’s expositions remind us so much of our Protestant convictions. He truly is a father of faith. Père Tardif ministry was so touching. The foundational work in theology and church history by Fr. McDonnel was revealing. It was also more than enriching learning about the life and place of origin of Holy Francis.
What touched me most was the Eucharist and the times of Adoration. These times opened up a new world to me. As you certainly noticed, I was deeply touched and moved by the fact of not being allowed to participate in the Eucharistic even though I experienced the presence of the Lord in such a magnificent way.
During the retreat I was reminded by the Spirit not to cease working for reconciliation and unity among the churches in the world. This is certainly not optional for me anymore. (Switzerland)
I just wanted to express my gratitude for the fantastic job you all did preparing for the retreat. I didn’t, as I told you before, believe there was going to be a “retreat” given the numbers and spread out location. I was wrong! (United States)
I now call the procession the miracle of the century! To get 1500 charismatics to walk in silence for such a long time was a miracle. But to be serious, it was a touch of inspiration…The more I see our pagan society I wonder whether silence is not a better way of witnessing to the sorrow of God. (England)
The days in Assisi have been something marvelous and unforgettable, filled with grace for all. God blessed and illumined us so that we could walk with the Lord and He could reign in our hearts. (Spain)
This last note came from one of the persons involved in the car accident after the retreat.
I happened to see the ICCRS Newsletter and came across the article about our accident. Thank you for sharing our great experience of God’s loving care with other retreatants! I enclose some photos of the car so you can get an idea of what He really has done in our lives. Thank ICCRS for your help and hospitality.
The photo shows the car upside down, facing the wrong way in traffic, with the roof over the front seats crushed down to the seats. Praise God for His loving protection!
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter January-February 1994.