History of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal
John the Baptist told his followers that the Messiah “will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire.” (Luke 3:16) In the Acts of the Apostles we see that the early church believed this and saw it come to pass. They continued to pray for the outpouring of the Spirit. Furthermore, church history shows that this experience of “baptism in the Spirit” did not die with the Apostles, but that it continued in strength for centuries in the general church and through the present day. This experience has been part of faith life and traditions in various groups and communities through- out the history of the church. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is only the latest of these expressions of baptism in the Spirit and charismatic gifts.
The renewal of this experience of “baptism in the Spirit” began in the Catholic Church in February of 1967 when a group of students on retreat at Duquesne University began praying for a fresh outpouring of Pentecost. Many of them had profound “baptism in the Spirit” experiences and they shared these experiences with other in prayer. They had a renewed commitment to prayer and a personal relationship to Jesus, a yearning for more knowledge in their Catholic faith and to the gospel call to bring the message of the Jesus to others, and the use of the gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit to bring this about. There followed a wildfire movement of the Spirit so profound that it led to the National Service Committee here in the U.S. and the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services in Italy. This Renewal of “baptism in the Spirit” has “set on fire” for the Lord nine million Catholic charismatic in the U.S. and 150 million Catholic charismatic worldwide, which are only a part of the 600 million witnesses through Baptism in the Holy Spirit through all denominations worldwide! What an outpouring of the Spirit in 40 years! Many Catholics having experienced this “baptism in the Spirit” - this renewal of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation - have become more involved in their local parishes, community outreaches, teen ministry and missionary work.
Pope John Paul II called the Renewal a “gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church” (March 14, 1992). And on the eve of Pentecost 2004 he stated, “Thanks to the Charismatic Movement, a multitude of Christians, men and women, young people and adults, have rediscovered Pentecost as a living reality in their daily lives. I hope that the spirituality of Pentecost will spread in the church as a renewed incentive to prayer, holiness, communion and proclamation.”
“The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)