For Catholics who would like to gain a better understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in their prayer and faith lives, the diocesan Charismatic Renewal office is sponsoring a Growth in the Spirit seminar from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 18, at Our Lady of Pompeii Parish in Lancaster. It is based on the work of author Sister Nancy Kellar, SC, and follows up on the office's Life in the Spirit seminar.
"This is not only for people who have gone to a Life in the Spirit seminar. This is for everyone. There's so much there, the encouragement that we're going to be getting from these talks. It's a very powerful seminar," said Anthony Scheeda, an event organizer of the Charismatic Renewal office.
Attendees are asked to bring a brown-bagged lunch. Refreshments, including coffee, will be available. There is no registration fee or prior registration, but good will donations will be accepted.
Sister Nancy, who was previously coordinator of charismatic renewal for the Archdiocese of New York, has spoken at national conferences on the topic of charismatic renewal and organized international retreats. She is also the author of "There's Always More: Expecting New Fire," which provides the blueprint for a nine-week Growth in the Spirit seminar, designed to be used on retreats or by prayer groups.
"There are nine talks in this book, but Sister Nancy had come here to visit us back a few years ago. She did a presentation at Samuel's Grande Manor (in Williamsville). It was not only the Office of Charismatic Renewal that sponsored it, but also St. Luke's Mission of Mercy," Scheeda recalled. "It was a one-day event, and she gave every talk that was in this book (that she had written)."
From there, the office decided to compile the nine talks into three separate ones, which is what they will do for this upcoming Growth in the Spirit seminar. Scheeda quoted David Thorp, an expert on evangelization and director of the Archdiocese of Boston's "Catholics Come Home" campaign who died in 2011, in discussing the importance this seminar will have on the people who choose to attend.
"'By opening yourselves up to God through the teachings of this seminar, you will be equipped with a fresh zeal of life and holiness in the New Evangelization,'" Scheeda said. "This is something we hear so much our Holy Father and our Bishop (Richard J. Malone) speaking about."
Scheeda said years ago, the Charismatic Renewal office used to have a basic Christian maturity seminar as a follow-up to the diocese's Life in the Spirit seminar. These also aim to help participants to establish a better understanding of the Holy Spirit's role in their lives, as well as grow in their own faith lives, and the Growth in the Spirit seminar will be an updated way of delivering this message.
"We've tried to not compete with them, but to follow the direction that they take and follow up. They've done such a fantastic job," Scheeda said. "Basic Christian maturity was the way to go years ago, and it's still a good process, but through the years, as a result of the National Service Committee meeting and discussing revamping that basic Christian maturity course, Sister Nancy, who worked closely with the National Service Committee, came up with some ideas and put them on paper."
When asked about the office's goals for the Growth in the Spirit seminar, Scheeda commented he hopes this will encourage everyone in the diocese to become involved in the New Evangelization. He said Pope Francis has called upon Catholics to participate in a "Year of Unity," which is also the goal of the Holy Spirit in unifying Catholics via their beliefs, and unifying the Father with Christ and the Church.
"We all have this responsibility to reach out to everyone, our families as well as our neighbors and those in our community, to encourage people to be a part of the New Evangelization," Scheeda remarked. "A lot of people seem to be intimidated by that word, 'evangelization,' because their first thought is the evangelists that they hear on TV or on the radio. (It's) just the very fact of being able to speak about our story."
According to Scheeda, telling one's own story is a source of encouragement, since ideally, people know something about themselves that they can share with others, and a seminar like this will encourage people to continue growing in their faith, he added. "It's for the average Catholic who is interested in being equipped to face the New Evangelization, and to face a life of holiness," he said.
"We're all called to this. Some people think it's not an achievable goal. It is definitely achievable. The last talk that's given at the Life in the Spirit seminar is entitled 'Transformation in Christ.' This is where we're all empowered by Jesus' Holy Spirit, to empower us to be more like Him."
For more information, call the diocesan Charismatic Renewal office at Our Lady of Pompeii Parish at 716-683-6522, extension 114.