Fusion of Charismatic and Institutional Bring New Life

Author: Kristina Cooper

Fusion of Charismatic and Institutional Bring New Life

Kristina Cooper reports on exciting Life in the Spirit Seminars coming up this Eastertide.

History has proved, whether in Latin America or elsewhere, that where the institutional and charismatic dimensions of the Church work together, the power of the Spirit is unleashed with new force and fruitfulness.

We are seeing this in amazing way this year in Southwark as our Catholic Charismatic Renewal team  prepares to run Life in the Spirit seminars live at our cathedral, St George’s 2nd May -6th June on Tuesday evenings with a Pentecost retreat day on Saturday 27th May 2023.

As well as the live evenings, the talks will be streamed to about 8-10 hubs round the diocese and to a couple of parishes in Westminster and Shrewsbury dioceses.  There is also the opportunity to follow the seminars purely on line, as we have done over the last two years on zoom attracting people all over the country.

God works for good in all things

It all began with a couple of disappointments, and a reminder that God works for good in all things. First we found out that Aylesford Priory where we had held last year’s Life in the Spirit Pentecost retreat day was not available. Then the date for our second annual healing day was suddenly pulled for a diocesan event.

As a result, we went to speak to Fr Michael Branch,  the new dean, about our plans and to ensure good communications were established with the cathedral for the future and to see if there might be any synergy in the future of us working together. In a very anointed meeting with him, where there was a tangible sense of the Holy Spirit, Fr Michael Branch suddenly asked us if we might like to run the Life in the Spirit seminars for his cathedral parish.

He saw them as a possible tool to help with the renewal of life in his parish following the devastating affects of Covid. He said he felt called to do the Life in the Spirit seminars himself, too, as he had never done them before, which was a further encouragement. 

Organic, Spirit-Filled Seminars

We couldn’t believe it. It was Fr Michael who arranged the dates, and this led to the Life in the Spirit retreat day ending up being at the cathedral on Pentecost Saturday, which had long been a dream of mine. We are hoping that many participants will stay on for the 6pm cathedral vigil Mass celebrated by Bishop Philip Moger, and provide a joyful Pentecost atmosphere for the regular Mass-goers.

Much of the development of these seminars has happened organically since then, with one thing leading to another. Without us planning it, what began as a diocesan event is starting to take on national dimensions.  As well as individuals from round the country signing up, the Maltfriscans, a Franciscan inspired CCR community, asked to piggy back onto our event. 

Concerned that we wouldn’t have enough small group leaders for the online seminars, as our Southwark ones were now running hubs or helping at the cathedral seminars, we approached the national CHARIS network for help. We have been so grateful for their generous response and the new connections we have made in the process.

Looking Forward-Responding to Pope Francis' Call To Share Baptism In The Spirit

As a possible follow up, we will be looking at the Called and Gifted programme, which helps people to discern their personal charisms. This was created by Sherry Weddell some years ago, but has been developed in recent years and led in this country by a committed team from the Portsmouth.

This was the initiative of Bishop Philip Egan, but  many people from a CCR background have been the ones supplying the personnel to lead it forward. Another example of the institutional and charismatic dimensions working together.  A couple of leaders from Portsmouth were among those who have volunteered as small group leaders to help with our online seminars. For more information about the Southwark Life in the Spirit seminars see:

All this feels the fulfilment of Pope Francis’ call to the Charismatic Renewal to run the Life in the Spirit seminars throughout the Church and spread the knowledge and experience of Baptism in the Spirit everywhere. In 1998  Pope John Paul II, speaking to a world wide gathering of movements on the vigil of Pentecost, called them  to embrace new ecclesial maturity and bring their charisms to the heart of the Church. In these days we seem to be seeing this. Thanks be to God. Please pray for us! 

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