Activate the Holy Spirit's spiritual gifts
U.S. Catholic evangelist encourages CCO missionaries to put Christ on campus
CCN PHOTO DEBORAH GYAPONG
CCO human resources director Michael Hall says young people are 'looking for truth but they don't know where to find it.'
DEBORAH GYAPONG CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
The gifts most Catholics receive at Baptism and Confirmation lie dormant their whole lives, said Peter Herbeck, of Renewal Ministries, an international Catholic evangelistic organization based in Ann Arbor, Mich.
"What is dormant is now being activated," Herbeck said in an interview Aug. 27, before leading a retreat for Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) staff Aug. 27-28 in Ottawa. Over 60 missionary staff came for a week of formation before they hit 10 university campuses across Canada to evangelize Catholic youth.
For the first time, CCO will have missionaries at the University of Calgary and St. Mary's University in Halifax.
Herbeck also said the Church is undergoing a "serious pruning," especially in western countries with the priestly sexual abuse scandals. "The old things are being cut away, old ways of doing things."
But the pruning is meant to make way for new growth, he said. The Holy Spirit will "give new energy" to a Church that has become in some places "stale, flat and lukewarm."
Herbeck focused the retreat on rediscovering the Church's charismatic dimension in order to bring about what Pope John Paul II called the New Pentecost.
"The Holy Spirit is the power source of the Church's evangelization," Herbeck said. At Pentecost the Spirit fell like tongues of fire and thrust the first disciples "out into the marketplace to declare the beauty and majesty of Jesus."
Herbeck described CCO as "one of the signs of the times," according to Pope John Paul II's description of new movements as living signs of what the Spirit is doing. CCO, like other new movements has the "passion and gifting" to help people encounter Jesus Christ personally, Herbeck said.
PASSION FOR ORTHODOXY
Another sign is the way CCO and other new movements draw people into small groups to interact, share their love for each other and deepen their faith. These new movements also have a passion for orthodoxy, he said.
"Some organizations like CCO are able to meet young people during their university years when many lose their faith."
They provide a "Christ presence" on campus, and like other new movements focus on conversion, communion, orthodoxy and mission.
Another aspect of the new movements is they empower the laity in a way that is not in conflict with the priesthood, but complementary to it, he said.
They are bringing about the re-emergence of the charisms that were present in the early Church, such as prophesy, administration, words of knowledge, healings and other supernatural gifts.
"There is no evangelization without the gifts of the Holy Spirit," he said.
Herbeck grew up Catholic, one of seven children. His family lived one block from the church, but he did not find his faith engaging in his teen years.
In the late 1970s, he attended a Catholic charismatic conference at Notre Dame with 30,000 attendees. He could see the life in them, though what they spoke about was like Greek to him. He began to earnestly pray for faith as he felt a hunger for God grow in him. He prayed for a living faith like that of the first Apostles.
As the conference drew to a close on Sunday, he was still crying out in his heart for a deeper relationship with God. A stranger approached him after the Eucharist. Herbeck can still remember his nametag and that he was from Indianapolis.
"When I saw you, I felt the Lord touching my heart to speak to you," the man said. "The Lord wants you to know the faith that you seek will be granted to you because Jesus Christ loves you."
The man prayed for him and Herbeck became overwhelmed by the presence of God, by an overflowing of the Holy Spirit that brought tears but also cleansed, refreshed and empowered him.
SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH
CCO human resources director Michael Hall described young people today as "looking for truth but they don't know where to find it."
"They are trying to figure out truth and they are trying to figure out love," he said. They want to care for the world, especially those in the developing world. We speak to them of the love of one's neighbour and how the "only source of that is God himself."