After years in the ministry of healing, Father Richard DiGiulio found himself on the receiving end during a conference in Georgia. During an ecumenical prayer service where guests were prayed over, the knee pain that has bothered the 75-year-old priest for some time vanished.
"I was able to stand up for two hours with no problem," he said.
Father DiGiulio, director of Charismatic Renewal for the Diocese of Buffalo and Burning Bush Healing Ministry, attended the annual convocation of the national Charismatic Renewal organization, the Association of Diocesan Liaisons from April 11-16 in Augusta, Ga. The meeting presented speakers and discussion as well as prayer and fellowship to people working in the field. Charismatic Renewal is a spiritual movement within the Catholic Church that incorporates both Catholic and Charismatic practices. It emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus and gifts of the Spirit.
Guest speaker Charles Whitehead, author of "An Invitation to the Spirit-Filled Life," spoke on Catholics working with other Christian denominations.
"It's time now for us Christians to learn how to get it together with other Christians," explained Father DiGiulio. "Whatever we have in common we ought to share and work together. We are united in the sense that we all have Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior, therefore we should concentrate on that."
Along with talks, those in attendance shared stories, had meals together and prayed as a group.
"It was a solid week of teaching by Charles Whitehead, and we were also enriched by the sharing that we have in common with each other," Father DiGiulio said. "We come back to our own diocese inspired and encouraged to carry on the work of the Church in a renewed sense."
Anthony Sheeda, assistant director for Charismatic Renewal in the Diocese of Buffalo, accompanied Father DiGiulio to the conference. He said there were a lot of things that came from the Holy Spirit that really challenged those attending.
"It brought comfort to us, knowing that the Lord knows, in spite of the things that we're going through and the work that we're doing, His Spirit within us is assisting us," Sheeda said. "We may have concerns, but don't worry about it because He's working with us and His Holy Spirit is going to be able to accomplish things in a way we might not want it, but the way the Lord wants it."
What really made this conference unique was the host community. The Alleluia Community in Augusta, Ga., is a community of men, women and children seeking to help others be obedient to God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit; to live under His commandments; and live a life of service to Jesus and all people. They don't just gather as community, they all live in one section of town.
Rather than stay at a hotel, the 30 conference participants stayed in the homes of community members.
"Not only did we get the wonderful experience with the community at large and the conference, but when we came home at night or in the morning at breakfast with the family, it was a beautiful sharing with them," Father DiGiulio said. "We prayed together a little bit. We shared our lives together. It was a wonderful experience. You really become very close."
Father DiGiulio said he and Sheeda experienced a brotherhood, prayers in common and shared meals with the people of Georgia.
"They get along so well, and there is so much love in that community," Sheeda said. "It's something I am hoping and praying we can see in the Church some day."
The community of close to 300 people sponsored a prayer service which involved songs of praise and worship. Conference leaders prayed over their guests.
"Father DiGiulio was completely healed of that knee problem," Sheeda said. "He was able to genuflect. The pain and discomfort that he had that evening completely left."
Buffalo currently has 12 Charismatic prayer groups. It's down from the more than 100 groups in the 1970s when the movement began, but the numbers don't bother Father DiGiulio. He has seen people influenced by Charismatic Renewal influencing others.
"Maybe we could encourage our Charismatic Renewal members and tell them about the message and hopefully it becomes part of their lives and they can bring that message to whatever parish they belong to and influence them that way," Father DiGiulio said.
Father DiGiulio strongly believes that part of the goal of Charismatic Renewal is to bring this message to the whole body of the larger Church.
"That's how I've always seen Charismatic Renewal, as an aid to the Church, to make the Church realize its fullest dimension," Father DiGiulio said. "I think the Church becomes more full when it absorbs the Charismatic Renewal in its outlook and its way of preaching the Gospel."
Charismatic Renewal of the diocese hosts Life in the Spirit Seminars from time to time to offer people a deeper faith life. The Burning Bush Healing Ministry helps individuals in need of healing prayers.
"The Catholic Church needs the enthusiasm of the Charismatic Renewal," Father DiGiulio said. "The Catholic Church needs the commitment that the Charismatic Renewal brings to the Catholic Church - the commitment to Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, especially in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which we promote," Father DiGiulio said.
A diocesan charismatic prayer meeting will take place at Our Lady of Pompeii Church on Wednesday, June 22, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Members of prayer groups from throughout the diocese are invited to attend this first-time event which will include worship and fellowship. Music will be by Jay Caputo.
For further information call 716-683-6522.