Charismatic Renewal and Parish Life

(How the Renewal affests us at Precious Blood Parish in Stephenson, MI)


Howard Mondloch

Visitors 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." (Clayton Ebsch)

"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." (Sue Leyo)

"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 Koldas)

"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 and visitors.

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 on.

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 generation.

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 yet!"

From the Diocese of Marquette Michigan, U.P. Catholic Charismatic Newsletter (Spring 2001 )