The Dialog October 7, 1999
Diocese of Wilmington, DE
A Renewal at the beach
Charismatics gather to be immersed in the love of the Father
By Jane Harriman
REHOBOTH BEACH - Outside, the October weekend was brilliant with the
infinite blue of ocean and sky. The world inside the painted cinderblocks of
the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center seemed just as glorious. As Bishop
Saltarelli said, "In here, the Son is shining."
The occasion was the 15th annual Conference of the Catholic Charismatic
Renewal of the Diocese of Wilmington. About 300 Catholics, many of them members
of parish charismatic prayer groups, came to the conference, titled this year
"The Father's Love." Together they learned and prayed and worshiped in their
spirited and Spirit-filled way.
The divine love they experience radiated everywhere. In the parking lot and
in the lobby, women in bright red T-shifts greeted strangers like long-lost
loves, throwing arms around them and enfolding them in joy. Beaming worshipers
held hands high and sang exuberantly with the musical group Spiritfire, even
singing on in harmonic "tongues" as each song ended. At the foot of the stage, a
bank of women in red shirts prayed continuously for speakers. From time to time
they accepted and read aloud prophesies made by conference participants.
"How grateful I am to God for you," Bishop Saltarelli told the group Saturday
after celebrating Mass at which he distributed communion to each person there.
"So much is being done because you are the power, the fuel, the energy. Your
prayers provide the leaven."
The bishop affectionately called the conference participants,"my crazy
Catholics" and warmly chided them for being "politically incorrect" in referring
to God as "The Father."
"'Why do you do that?" he asked. "Because He is! He is!" shouted
participants. Father George Montague, a consultant to the National Service
Committee of the Charismatic Renewal, had earlier told the crowd that many can
fully experience God the Father only after "the father wound" left by an abusive
or absent human father is healed.
Father Montague described how Jesus' relationship with his loving "Abba or
Daddy" won for us the right to share that love. He described that love as God's
opening of the heavens, as Jesus emerged from the
waters of baptism to hear the proclamation: "This is my beloved son in whom I am
The Holy Spirit, Father
Montague said, brings us "the experience of knowing God as our Beloved
Father. That is what we in the charismatic renewal are trying to promote the
experience of God's love that comes to us through the Holy Spirit. "But
today," he continued, "one in four children grows up in a single parent
household usually with a mother. For them the image of God the Father lacks
meaning. Others face a major obstacle to their faith by carrying the scars
of paternal abuse. God wants to be our loving Father, but (for some) that
involves a whole conversion, a whole healing."
When Jesus said, "Unless you become like little children you won't enter the
kingdom" Father Montague explained, "he was talking about conversion not from
great evil but the conversion it takes for us to accept the gifts of God the way
a child would, letting the Father give us the gifts that come with Jesus the
gifts of the Spirit."
And among those gifts is healing. Father Montague said he himself suffered
from a father wound, which was "why the Lord's prayer never meant very much to
Then in the early 1970s, "The Lord got a hold of me and said, 'Following me
is not a spectator sport,'" and so he allowed friends and acquaintances to lay
hands on him and pray that he might be baptized by the Holy Sprit.
Lois McGhee Grande, a teacher of Christian healing and a secular Carmelite,
echoed Father Montague when she said, "We are meant to live in the consciousness
of a God, a Father, who smiles on us and tells us we are a favorite child."
A human father who has time to love his child is one of the greatest gifts a
child can have, Grande said.
She told of lightweight boxing champion Oscar de la Hoya, who was asked,
after he'd won $9 million, "Do you have any other goal in life?" He replied:
Yes, there was one: to fight a match after which his father would say, "Son,
your career has been awesome and I am pleased."
Grande said, "Simply stated, whatever blocks our full appreciation that we
are a favorite child needs healing."
Speak in defense of life
One big component of the
modern charismatic movement is its pro-life ministry. Father Frank Pavone,
national director of Priests for Life, opened the conference on Friday
evening and on Saturday spoke at the 5 p.m. Mass at Holy Cross Church in
Dover. He began his homily by asking a child to step forward.
He pointed to the congregation and asked, "Are they bigger than you? Are they
stronger that you? Are they older than you?"
The child answered "Yes," three times.
Then Father Pavone asked her, "Are they more special than you?"
"No!" she said.
"The children always get it right," he said. "Somehow we adults get it wrong.
We think value depends on size, strength and age."
Father Pavone said the Christian pro-life community is organized to help any
pregnant woman with whatever she or her child needs. His agency distributes a
list of toll-free numbers that anyone can call to get support and help. There
are children alive tonight because people read it [the list] and remembered it
when someone they love needed it. "
The doors of the church are always open to those who have had an abortion,",
Father Pavone said. "We want to welcome you back."
To those who say abortion is a personal choice, Father Pavone said, "Before
the day is over someone will abuse their children. We don't say 'That's their
right. We won't interfere. It's up to them.' The business of love is to
intervene and help anyone in danger. We understand the need to help the victims
of poverty, crime, illness and war. We need to likewise intervene to help the
victims of abortion."
He urged Catholics to speak out: "Every abortion is a rejection of the Son of
God, a rejection of Jesus Christ."
Once, in Florida, after preaching on abortion, Father Pavone walked out on
the beach to see a sign: "Do not touch the sea turtles or their eggs; they are
protected by state and federal laws."
He said he thinks sea turtles should be protected, but there is something
wrong when "We don't have the right to smash a sea turtle, but we have the right
to smash a baby."
To the children at Holy Cross, he said, "If you don't understand everything
that I have been saying, understand that there are people who are afraid to be
Moms and Dads. You are special and babies are special, no matter how loud they
And, he told the children, no matter what they achieve in their lives, "none
of that is anywhere near as special as being a Mom or a Dad."
Announcements of the
September 30, 1999Charismatics to gather in
The 15th annual Conference of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of the Diocese
of Wilmington will be held this
weekend at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center.
"The Father's Love"- will be the theme; in preparation
for the Great Jubilee 2000, Pope John Paul II designated 1999 as the Year of the
Father. Speakers include Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for
Life and an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family; Father
George Montague, scripture scholar and consultant to the National Service
Committee of the Charismatic Renewal; and Lois McGhee Grande, adjunct professor
at Wilmington College and active in teaching Christian healing.
Father Michael Moses, founder of the School of Evangelism and a faculty
member at the Bible Institute in Trinidad, will conduct a healing service.
Liturgies will be celebrated by Bishop Saltarelli on Saturday: Father John O.
Barres, vice chancellor of the diocese, on Friday; and Father Stanley Ianieri,
diocesan liaison to the charismatic community, on Sunday. Father Thomas Flowers
pastor of St. Joseph Church in Middletown, will conduct the Eucharistic Holy
Hour and procession.
Father Pavone to speak at four Masses
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life since 1993,
will speak at Masses at four parishes in the diocese this weekend.
He will also speak Friday night to the annual diocesan Charismatic Conference
in Rehoboth Beach. A reception for the priest planned form 3 to 5 pm Sunday at
St. John the Beloved Parish Hall, 901 Milltown Road in Wilmington.
The U.S. Bishops have designated October as Respect Life Month.
Father Pavone will speak at Masses at:
5 p.m. Saturday, Holy Cross Church, 631 S State Street., Dover
7 a.m. Sunday, St. Hedwig Church, Linden and South Harrison Streets.,
10 a.m. Sunday, Church of the Holy Child, 2500 Naamans Road, Wilmington
Noon Sunday, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Shipley and Weldin Roads,
Priests for Life in