Charismatic Catholics gather for day of teaching and renewal
By Connie Berry
Judging by the dancing, clapping and praising at Barbagallo’s Restaurant on Saturday, Sept. 25, Charismatic Renewal is alive and well in the diocese.
The occasion was a visit by Father Tom DiLorenzo, administrator of Holy Rosary Church in Winthrop, Mass., just outside of Boston. He has been active in Catholic Charismatic Renewal since the early days 40 years ago. Some may recognize him from the “In Season and Out of Season” radio program, which airs on 95.3 FM and 103.9 FM in the Syracuse area. Father Amedeo Guida, pastor of St. Cecilia’s Church in Solvay, is the diocesan liaison for Charismatic Renewal and he was at the day-long teaching event as well. His parish hosted a healing Mass the night before.
In his thick East Boston accent, Father DiLorenzo kept returning to the same concept: Jesus was a healer, laid hands on people and proclaimed the Good News and yet somehow over the years, the church all but relegated healing and other spiritual gifts to history.
St. Paul talks about spiritual gifts in chapter 12 of his first letter to the Corinthians, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit … to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues.”
“When the church stopped laying on hands, what happened? Others started doing it,” Father DiLorenzo said.
Part of the problem, he explained, is that the church today wants to be “lovely and nice.”
“We have separation of church and state. That means that there should not be a state religion. That’s all it means,” he said. “When Planned Parenthood came to town we said, ‘Oh, not many people will get abortions.’ How many babies have died? The church wants to be lovely and nice. We are to be prophetic, merciful, loving and kind. We do not have to be nice.”
Father DiLorenzo said the church’s vision is too small. “We’re called to change the whole world. We’re not called to sit in the pew and leave the same way we came in,” he said.
Every seat was filled in the banquet room as everyone listened intently and sometimes responded aloud to his teaching.
A family who had attended the healing Mass the night before sat together at a table in Barbagallo’s. “My brother-in-law has IPF [Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis] and he has not been without his oxygen since June. Father DiLorenzo and the whole congregation prayed for him last night and now he isn’t using the oxygen. He used it briefly when he walked up the stairs last night but that was it,” said Kathleen Smith.
Another woman said, “I have no doubt. The Holy Spirit brought me here today. I was supposed to be someplace else.”
Father DiLorenzo offered teaching sessions in the morning and afternoon with Mass and lunch in between. Singer Ann Walseman provided the music, which at times was very lively and compelled many folks to join in a line that made its way dancing through the banquet room to hymns of praise.
Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a movement within the church. Charismatic Masses are lively and prayer meetings often feature speaking in tongues, healing and prophecy. All these gifts existed in the early church and the Renewal puts them back into practice. The movement began in the late 1960s in college campus ministry and today there are millions of people involved.
Father DiLorenzo’s straight talk stressed not only his opinion on the modern church but also his faith in the power and awesome ability God gives His people.
“There’s so much more in store for God’s people,” Father DiLorenzo said. “The Lord wants to give us an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”
He talked about needing to revive Charismatic Renewal.
“Charismatic Renewal needs a resurrection,” he said. “I know in Boston it does. At prayer meetings it’s the same little old ladies who were there in 1970; back then we had people standing up and telling us how God changed their lives. If you don’t move with the Spirit, you get left behind.”
Father DiLorenzo said people must be willing to look foolish, to step out of the line. He said those who followed Jesus were considered crazy. “We’re all nuts. There’s nobody here who’s got it together. This is real. Brokenness is no problem for our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “When you watch television and they’re panning the crowd, you can see all the beautiful people. They’re all so lovely. The people with no teeth, you’ll never see. We want everyone to think we’re very sophisticated. We pretend rather than show the reality. God is not in the front. He is in the back. When the Holy Ghost comes, sophistication goes right out the window.”
Father Guida’s parish, Woods Road in Solvay, offers a healing Mass on the first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. and a Charismatic Mass on the first Friday of every month beginning with praise and worship at 6:45 p.m. with Mass following at 7 p.m.