Jesus as Word, Jesus as Prophet at 30th Annual Catholic Charismatic Conference
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STEUBENVILLE, OH (June 12, 2012) - "Our lives need to radically change," said Damian Stayne, the main speaker for Franciscan University's 30th annual Catholic Charismatic Conference, held June 8-10. "To live is to change, and to live well is to change often," he added, quoting Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.
Stayne also reminded listeners that powerful spiritual experiences are not enough, saying, "Unless the Spirit of God engraves the Word of Christ into your heart, it'll all be of irrelevance for the kingdom of God."
The weekend was packed with inspiring talks and workshops led by Stayne, a well-known speaker in the Catholic charismatic renewal movement and founder of Cor et Lumen Christi, a faith community in the Dioceses of Arundel and Brighton in England. It also featured Masses on both Saturday and Sunday, praise and worship led by singer/songwriter Bob Rice, silent eucharistic adoration, a healing service, and the sacrament of reconciliation.
Drawing from his many years in Catholic ministry, Stayne explained that the purpose of a conference is not just about finding one's "spiritual comfort zone."
"When they really find (the spiritual comfort zone), they spend the rest of their spiritual life trying to stay in it," he said. "That is not what the spiritual life is about."
The key, said Stayne, is in understanding the presence of Jesus Christ as word and prophet in the Catholic life.
Referencing the writing of St. Bernard, he said, "Christianity is the religion of the word of God, not a written and mute word, but incarnate and living."
Stayne gave several talks on understanding the word and the prophetic message of the Gospel. One talk outlined Jesus' prophetic parable of the sower who planted seeds--some of which fell on rocks, some of which were eaten by birds, and some of which grew into healthy plants.
He explained that one way to look at this parable is in light of the different areas of our lives that are either holy or "out-of-bounds" for God. Naming off aspects such as dishonest money dealings, unforgiveness of a certain family member, or unchastity, Stayne said that Jesus wants to enter and heal all of these elements.
"Jesus sees a potential for harvest in those areas of your life, as well as the areas where you feel you've got things right and the Lord has access," he said.
Celebrating the Saturday morning Mass was Father Jonathan St. André, TOR, a 1996 graduate of Franciscan University and director of Novitiates for his religious community in Reston, Virginia.
In his homily, Father St. André explained that we are called to be vessels of God's word for the world.
"We may think, 'can God really proclaim the word through me?'" said Father St. André. "We may think, 'I have nothing to give.' You just need to be who the Lord created you to be."
Citing St. Catherine of Siena's famous line, "If you are who the Lord created you to be, you will set the world on fire," Father St. André encouraged attendees to be open to conversion, growth, and the greater call to proclaim the word.
Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, a Franciscan University alumnus of the Class of 1989, celebrated Sunday morning Mass for the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Father Pivonka, a speaker and pilgrimage leader, currently serves as director of Franciscan Pathways, an evangelistic/preaching outreach of the Franciscan Friars TOR.
In his homily, he placed an emphasis on God's covenant, not contract, with his beloved people.
"It doesn't say this is a contract; it says this is a covenant of my blood," said Father Pivonka. "No longer the blood of an animal, no longer the ashes of a bull, but my body, my blood. If he can transform bread and wine into his body and blood, what can he do with you?"
At the Saturday night healing service, participants prayed with one another for spiritual and physical healing. Conference attendees came away from the weekend with a renewed sense of confidence and joy in the Word of God.
This year's conference was a first-time event for Ileana Harbour from Manassas, Virginia.
"It's always been my dream to come, and I decided to make it happen," she said. However, she almost did not make it.
"Our two cars broke down two weeks before the conference," she said. "And we used the money we had saved for the conference on fixing the cars."
She decided to call Franciscan and ask if they could help her out.
"I knew I had to be here, but the University made it happen," she said.
John Hummer from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, has been coming to this conference for many years. He loves the encouragement and challenge from the conferences to evangelize to the world.
"We are called, every one of us, to proclaim the word and to heal," he said.
Describing the University as "the most beautiful place; truly holy ground," Cheryl Goers from Dallas, Texas, said this was her first time attending a charismatic event.
"I felt an overwhelming sense of peace," she said. ""We adore rock stars in this country; at the conference, everyone was actually adoring God."
Upcoming Franciscan University summer conferences include the St. John Bosco Conference for Catholic educators (July 18-22), the Applied Biblical Studies Conference for anyone seeking a deeper knowledge and understanding of Scripture (July 25-27), and the Defending the Faith Conference which focuses on Catholic apologetics (July 29-31).
For more information, including a complete list of conferences for adults and youth, go to www.franciscanconferences.com.
Franciscan University of Steubenville
http://www.franciscan.edu OH, 43952 US
Tom Sofio - Associate Director of Public Relations,
Damian Stayne, charismatic, Catholic, Franciscan University, Steubenville
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