If you need a theme for a Charismatic conference, “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength,” certainly encapsulates the movement. Approximately 400 area Catholic Charismatics will converge on St. Mary Magdalen Parish, Media, on April 6 and it’s a guarantee, they will be joyful.
The day-long event both begins and ends with Mass – the opening 8:30 a.m. Mass celebrated by Msgr. Ralph Chieffo, pastor of St. Mary Magdalen, and closing Mass at 5:30 p.m., the vigil Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday also celebrated by Msgr. Chieffo.
In between there will be a full day of conferences featuring talks by well-known leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement.
A highlight will be the 10:20 a.m. keynote address by Sister of Charity Nancy Kellar, a leader in the movement in New York for the past 42 years.
Sister Nancy, who lives in the St. Elizabeth Seton House of Prayer in Scarsdale, N.Y., does not spend much time at home. Much in demand, she has spoken at conferences and given retreats in about 50 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America, as well as the United States.
Her frequent theme is based on 2 Timothy 1:6-7: “There is always more of the Gift of God … God did not give us a spirit of timidity but the spirit of power and love and self-control.”
A well-known local speaker will be Kathleen McCarthy, president of Rosemont-based In His Sign Radio Network.
McCarthy, a mother of 12, has also been part of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and healing for decades, and also speaks at conferences, retreats and workshops.
Msgr. Chieffo, who has a weekly program on In His Sign for the past 22 years, traces his involvement with the Catholic Charismatic Movement back to his seminary days in 1970, when he and fellow seminarians traveled into Philadelphia’s St. Boniface Parish where the movement was pioneered locally by Redemptorist Brother Pancratius Boudreau.
It made a huge impression on Msgr. Chieffo, even if their car battery was stolen during the meeting. He also learned much through Msgr. Vincent Walsh, the retired priest who was a real apostle for the Charismatics locally.
“There is a hunger for an increase in faith,” Msgr. Chieffo said. Charismatic Renewal, he said, “gives people the grace and guidance they need. It’s not just speaking in tongues, it’s receiving the true gifts of the Lord, spiritual gifts: love and faith and hope.”
“Christianity is contagious,” he said, “you have to capture it from others, and this is what the renewal is doing.”
Also participating in the annual conference will be Msgr. Joseph McLoone, the Archbishop’s delegate to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and Gloria Coyne, the lay delegate.