Catholic Charismatic Renewal Celebrates 50 Uplifting Years


The 1960s are remembered as a tumultuous time of counterculture movements and groundbreaking accomplishments.

In that decade, the Holy Spirit was said to have become present to 30 students and professors from Duquesne University at a retreat house near Pittsburgh. From The Ark and The Dove Retreat House, Charismatic Renewal began on the weekend of Feb. 17, 1967. The movement spread like wildfire to other college campus ministries and parish prayer groups throughout the world.

That retreat was commemorated during the annual conference of the Archdiocese of New York’s Catholic Charismatic Renewal Oct. 7 in Manhattan. An estimated 250 faithful celebrated five decades of Charismatic Renewal at Cathedral High School.

The daylong conference, which carried the theme “Looking Back…Moving Forward,” included personal testimonies, group prayer, music and inspirational discourses. Cardinal Dolan celebrated the closing Mass.

A “Duquesne Weekend” attendee, Marybeth Greene, shared what she described as both a surprising experience and a sensation of powerful love at the renowned retreat five decades ago.

“I helped plan that weekend but we had no idea what God was going to do; so many of us experienced a very powerful presence and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Many of us began to speak in tongues and have a sense of what God might want to say to a particular person,” Mrs. Greene told CNY. “It was really all about God’s love and how much he loves each of us.”

A featured speaker at the Manhattan conference, Mrs. Greene served on the student planning committee for the “Duquesne Weekend” her junior year at the university. She told CNY that not everyone was touched by the Holy Spirit the way she and many others were that day, nor was everybody ready to be a part of the spiritual transformation. She said the Holy Spirit, from there on, inspired her in what she dedicates her life to now.

She and her husband Ed Greene serve as pastoral directors for LAMP Catholic Ministries. Based in the Bronx, LAMP is a lay mission that supports and strengthens the faith of the materially poor through Catholic evangelization.

Sister Nancy Kellar, S.C., a Sister of Charity of New York and a member of the first Charismatic House of Prayer in the United States, served as mistress of ceremonies at the Manhattan conference. A founding member of St. Elizabeth Seton House of Prayer and Charismatic Renewal Center in Scarsdale, Sister Nancy is a former coordinator of Charismatic Renewal in the archdiocese. She has traveled to more than 60 countries and throughout the United States to speak at conferences.

“We are asking, Lord give us a new Pentecost, give us the power of the Holy Spirit as in the days of the early Church,” she said. What Pentecost is about is probably the best way to describe what the Charismatic Movement is about, she added, “praying for the particular gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The gathering of prayer groups of the archdiocese at the Manhattan conference was similar to those that have been meeting globally. In June, Pope Francis hosted 30,000 charismatics from around the world to celebrate the Catholic Charistmatic Renewal’s 50th anniversary at the Circus Maximus in Rome. Sister Nancy attended and she said that the Holy Father spoke strongly about unity.

Cardinal Dolan, in his homily at the Manhattan conference, said Catholic Charismatic Renewal is known for its hope and realism. He said members are mindful of the power of darkness and evil in the world but have a resilient hope that evil will never have the last word. “Never lose sight on the evil around us; the only power stronger than evil is the power of Jesus. We know who won the war but the battle still rages on,” Cardinal Dolan said.

Oct. 7 also marked the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The cardinal referenced the Rosary in relation to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and called praying the Rosary an exercise of persistence, patience and perseverance.


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