Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 25, 2006
Charismatic prayer revived dying parish
Author and priest describes the power of the Holy Spirit
Fr. John Randall
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Each morning, Father John Randall wakes up empty until he prays. Then his own thoughts begin to fade away, making room for God.
"It's hard to pray sometimes, but I have to persevere until the Holy Spirit begins to bubble up inside me," said Randall, 77.
"When the Holy Spirit has its way, amazing things can happen."
A native of Rhode Island, Randall is a noted speaker and author on the charismatic renewal. He was a guest of the Assumption Parish charismatic prayer group Sept. 15-16 to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
In a prior interview, Randall described how the power of the Holy Spirit helped revive a dying parish in his home diocese of Providence.
"In 1978, the bishop of Providence sent me to St. Charles Borromeo Parish because the diocese couldn't support it any longer. It was an inner city parish and most of the Catholics had moved out. I had just been renewed myself in the Holy Spirit so it was a challenge to try and evangelize."
Through parish ministry and radio broadcasts, Randall was not only able to save the parish, but return it to a thriving place of worship.
"Since I went, there were 16 vocations to the priesthood and religious life. One of my greatest sadnesses is that the Church does not respect the Holy Spirit enough because it is the life of the Church."
Perpetual adoration began in the parish in 1996. Secular media outlets contacted the diocese to find out how such a turn-around was possible. Randall's answer was powerfully simple.
"That's what the Holy Spirit can do," he said.
Edie Gouin tried several times to get Randall to come to Assumption Parish after hearing him speak some 20 years ago during an international leaders conference in Stubenville, Ohio.
"He said that we are not being affirmed or encouraged as much as we should," said Gouin, a founding member of the parish's charismatic prayer group. "He thought it would be better to be a large diocesan group as a real witness to the word of God."
Gouin returned to Edmonton full of fire with an ideal vision that the archdiocese would agree to unite in the spirit of renewal. When it did not happen as she hoped, Gouin was disappointed.
"It was something very important in our lives that we wanted to share with others because we felt it was not meant for us few, but the whole Church," she said. "The word of God was a living reality, not something that was just to be read for historical reasons. "
Now retired, Randall has been a priest for 53 years. A parish pastor for a number of years, Randall is a former member of the National Service Committee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. He has written several books on charismatic renewal.
"Pope John Paul talked about a new springtime coming and I believe he was right. And God will do it because we can't. I don't know how, but I think we will have a glorious renewal with the Church," Randall said.
"It will have to be some sort of judgment to really shake up the world. Then everyone will come to the Holy Spirit. Charismatic revivals come and die, and I don't care. But I do care about the Holy Spirit being the heart of life."