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SCRC Convention: Become evangelizers, attendees told

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Participants at the 40th annual SCRC Catholic Renewal Convention were challenged to move a step forward becoming evangelizers in an increasingly “fractured world,” promoting unity within the Church and with the community.“Pentecost and evangelization go together,” Redemptorist Father Gino Henriques told the audience at the Sept. 2 opening assembly in the Anaheim Convention Center Arena. “The whole world must know that Jesus came to save us and what He came to do no one else has done,” he asserted. “We can’t be just ‘maintenance’ charismatic renewal with prayer groups in our churches; we have to be missionary charismatic renewal.”In presiding at the closing Mass for the first time, Archbishop José Gomez reiterated the need for renewal in the Church. “The Holy Spirit is the great unknown, ‘el gran desconocido’,” he said. “We need this renewal in our Church.” And he thanked God for allowing the “beautiful, apostolic SCRC” convention to flourish for 40 years.“The Holy Spirit is the big witness that we are the children of God,” the archbishop continued. “He’s always present; He’s a teacher that never gets tired of teaching the love of God for us.” He urged the assembly to “live and work in the Spirit” loving others and being “watchmen over all…. No one can be a stranger to any of us.”Citing the story of Blessed Irma Dulce from Brazil, who adopted an orphan boy in a trip to Los Angeles she named Anthony (after St. Anthony of Padua), and developed a ministry working with labor unions and in hospitals, schools and shelters, Archbishop Gomez encouraged the people to show God’s love regardless of how “big or little the opportunities are.”Father Henriques also stressed love for others, stating that increasing dissension in the world makes unity within the Church and between Church and community an imperative. “In this fractured society the world needs to witness unity, and who can give that to the world? The body of Christ,” said the Singapore-based international director of Evangelization 2033 and former Redemptorist provincial.Citing Vatican II, he said the Church is the “light of the nations” and its members are to be “signs and instruments of unity to the human kind through the Holy Spirit.”Offering examples of his own experience of evangelization in India and the Philippines, Father Henriques spoke of a “New Pentecost” that has “barely begun and requires work in the decades following.”As examples of the New Pentecost he mentioned the 2010 gathering in India of 20,000 youth during the 20th anniversary of Jesus Youth, a youth group founded in the early 1980s comprised of about 20 members trained for evangelization. Eventually, the group became national and then international, preaching and teaching healing to young people. The Christeen, a group of 40 teenagers that started evangelizing in schools, in the last 20 years has ministered to about three million adolescents. A group of evangelizers in the Philippines, trained specifically to proliferate schools of evangelization throughout the country, has in 20 years multiplied into more than 6,000 evangelizers and 200 trainers of evangelization in 90 parishes in central and southern Philippines.In sharing his testimony, Father Henriques took the audience through a journey that started with his own resistance to charismatic renewal, until he accepted to be “prayed over” during a priest retreat in Ohio in the mid-1970s.“I was angry, I didn’t want to go down,” he said, eliciting laughter, “but God asked me ‘When will you surrender?’”He said since then he has experienced a “deeper meaning of Scriptures” and has witnessed spiritual renewals in parishes throughout the world, parallel to his former duties, first as assistant provincial and then as provincial of the Redemptorist Fathers. Participants were also challenged by speakers to discover the gifts of the Spirit and to exercise them “for the growth of the Church.”“To be baptized in the Holy Spirit is to be empowered to fight the good fight not just to have a siesta,” Marianist Father George Montague said during his presentation “One Body, One Spirit: Paul’s Vision for the Church.”Using Mary’s docility as an example, he urged participants to see the Holy Spirit with eyes of faith “that see more than the natural eyes.”“All baptized (in the Holy Spirit) carry a beginning of resurrection,” said the author and Bible scholar at St. Mary’s University in Texas. He mentioned the Eucharist as a moment when the Holy Spirit “acts in us.”In his presentation “Unity in Community and Diversity of Gifts,” Father Jim Nisbet, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Spreckels, emphasized the importance of unity of the Church through the function of a diversity of gifts, and using the account when Peter walked on water, he warned about the vulnerability of the community that develops many gifts.“The gift of walking on water did not make him Jesus,” he said. “Peter understood that what’s important is what Jesus brings out of others, not what He does.“We get power in the community when we draw gifts out of others. All gifts belong to the Spirit, they never belong to you and their purpose is to build the Church.”Other speakers included Jewish-born Sister Rosalind Moss, founder of Oklahoma-based Daughters of Mary, Mothers of Israel’s Hope, and Deacon Alex Jones, who shared their conversion to Catholicism after many years of personal search and research, while still leaders of evangelical and Pentecostal churches, respectively.About 1,000 teenagers praised and worshiped to the tune of Ike Ndolo Band and singer Jackie Francois during the annual Teen Conference, held parallel to the convention.Through skits and presentations, teens were encouraged to discern and listen to the Holy Spirit and to develop their gifts for the future of the Church. “We learned we’re not junk, we’re children of God, His masterpiece,” said a group of adolescents attending from St. Francis Xavier Church in Pico Rivera. {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0909/scrc/{/gallery}

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