to our parish soon realize there is nothing Ho-hum about
Sunday Liturgy at Precious Blood Parish in Stephenson, Michigan. A few
are uncomfortable whenever God becomes so personal and real, but the
great majority are happily impressed. Some even have a life-changing
experience. Our pastor has a file full of fan mail to prove it.
Here is a recent sample:
Dear Father Hoefgen,
While camping at Wells Park, my husband and I had the opportunity to
attend Mass at your parish.
It was the most awesome experience I have ever had while participating
at Mass. Your parish community was so friendly and their joyful participation
was contagious. The liturgy of the Mass literally brought tears to the
eyes of one of our fellow campers. I wish all parishes had the same
enthusiasm as yours.
May God bless you in your ministry.
P. K., Porterfield, WI
We get letters and hear comments like this all the time. What is it
that makes such a difference? Well, first of all, two holy pastors in
a row didn't hurt us any, but we also can't discount the effects of
a strong Charismatic prayer group.
I recently asked some prayer group members two questions: How has the
Charismatic Renewal made a difference in our parish? And, how has the
Baptism in the Holy Spirit helped you be a better parishioner? Following
are a few of the many responses:
"There is an excitement about doing the music at Mass. I ask
the Lord what He wants me to p/ay and when I hear Father's homily they
fit together like a hand in a glove. It's truly God's work. (Carol
Lehto, Choir Director)
"My Baptism in the Holy Spirit showed me the importance of seeking
Christ every day, rather than being the one-hour-Sunday-Catholic
I had been." (Len Williams)
"The Mass is no longer just an obligation. I have a desire to
be there and participate fully." (Caro/yn Ebsch)
"I often wonder where our parish would be if all of you in the
renewal were not serving so many of the needs of our parish." (a
parishioner not in the renewal)
"The renewal introduced me to the Lord in a personal way and
at the same time led me to a new love for His Church and what it teaches."
"Reflecting on ministries and meetings in the parish, we used
to say an obligatory prayer before we began. Now we rely on prayer and
the direction of the Lord for the whole time." (Pat Duca)
"I a/ways wanted to be Catholic, I just was not sure why. When
the renewal came to our parish I began to understand why."
"The Ho/y Spirit helped our youth to understand adults and adults
to understand the youth. The young people bring us their gifts. There
is no age barrier." (Dr. Clara Cardenas)
"When I retired from my work at the Library I became aware,
I can not retire from God's work as long as I live." (Mary
"It makes us bold and more confident. I was shy before; now
I'm bold to sing out in Church, to pray in restaurants, and to talk
about Jesus in my profession." (Dr. Javier Cardenas)
"With the Holy Spirit, the words don't stop in my ears. Now
I use my mind to think about the words, my heart to cherish the words,
and my hands to put the words into action." (Chris Gawel, Youth)
These are just a few samples of similar observations shared by our parishioners
The Charismatic Renewal is not just a human response to a perceived
need in our Church or personal lives. The Charismatic Renewal works
because it comes from God Himself who uses it to show His Church how
to be Church. Like all things that rely on a human response, it has
it's difficulties too, but like all things that come from God, it has
unlimited potential. It is this divine potential that we try to focus
Here at Precious Blood Parish, with the encouragement of two strong
pastors, the work of the Holy Spirit has blossomed.
Our faith formation for children and youth is well above average. A
sense of belonging and Catholic identity is growing among our younger
Our Liturgies have a sense of heavenly reality. Fr. Peter Fosu, our
new associate pastor, says the first time he said. "The Lord be
with you." he was overwhelmed by the response.
Most of the people who serve as catechists, or in various liturgical
ministries, or service tasks and leadership roles in the parish, have
been through the Life in the Spirit Seminars. Increasingly, those who
have shied away from the renewal are coming to respect it.
A stronger family life among most Charismatics, fosters a stronger parish
life too. A good sense of family at home makes for a good sense of parish
as community, the family of God. It is refreshing to see large groups
of people greeting each other and visiting for twenty or more minutes
after each Weekend Mass.
There are encouraging signs our Catholic parish is enjoying a new respect
from our Protestant neighbors. They see us living our baptism and not
just doing legalistic Catholic things.
More and more people in the renewal are being led to tithing. Giving
becomes a prayer experience rather than a tooth pulling need. Service
in lectoring, Eucharistic ministering and catechesis has become more
of a privileged commitment.
We may yet be far from perfect, but no one can deny, great things are
happening at Precious Blood in Stephenson. We believe our prayer group
has something to do with this.
As our Pastor, Fr. Ray Hoefgen says, "You haven't seen anything