Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 28, 2009
Holy Spirit's joy ignites charismatics
Prayer breakfasts have been occasion for faith, fellowship for the past 25 years
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - They are enthusiastic and boisterous. Charismatic Catholics say they are enthusiastic about their faith because they are happy to be with the Lord.
"How could you not be happy when you know the Lord?" asks charismatic leader Cory Yakimovich. "Having a personal relationship with the Lord brings you joy and we like to express it. We are people of praise and thanksgiving."
"We are boisterous. I guess we like to show God that we are on board," added Tony Janssen, another leader.
Charismatic Catholics can be found anywhere within the Church and are well known for their lively monthly prayer breakfasts, which they have been holding in Edmonton for 25 years.
The breakfasts are held the second Saturday of each month at Chateau Louis Conference Centre, 11727 Kingsway.
Aside from enjoying a bacon and eggs breakfast, participants praise the Lord through prayer and song and listen to a speaker.
Speakers, usually people who have been touched by the Holy Spirit, give testimony of how the Lord has worked in their lives.
The latest speaker, Janet Klasson of Wainwright, spoke on her gift of prophecy. She believes the Lord is using her to send messages to the world.
The prayer breakfasts are an outreach and evangelization tool of Catholic Renewal Services (CRS), the body that oversees the charismatic movement in the Edmonton Archdiocese.
"The breakfast is a means of fellowship, a means of bringing people together and a means for you to invite someone to come," explained Yakimovich, the new CRS chairperson.
"It is also a source for people that are already in the renewal to have a place to be refreshed on a monthly basis and to hear how the Lord has been working in other people's lives."
The breakfast is a fundraising venue for CRS. "The money we charge at the breakfast is really the cost of the breakfast, but we also receive donations."
During a typical breakfast, participants sing songs of praise and then recite the Our Father, usually with their hands raised.
Immediately after breakfast, there is about half an hour of praise and worship and then the speaker.
"Usually when we do praise and worship, we start out with fast tunes so that people loosen up and then we bring it down into a worship mode," explains Tony Janssen, the CRS music leader and its former chairperson.
TURN TOWARDS GOD
"The idea is to leave your problems at the door and really turn yourself towards God. When we do the slower (songs), quite often at the end of the song, someone will have a word that comes to them, someone will have maybe a short prophecy of some kind, somebody will have maybe a word of knowledge, or somebody will read something from the Bible.
"We feel that this is the Holy Spirit working through his people and we take that seriously. Religion means something in our lives."
Begun Jan. 12, 1985, the breakfasts were first held at the Edmonton Inn, now the Ramada, patterned after the Full Gospel Business Men's International meetings that featured a meal, lively music, testimony and prayer.
The Catholic charismatic movement erupted in central Alberta in the early 1970s and supporters started attending Pentecostal-led workshops and conferences to satiate their thirst for information and knowledge.
"We used to go to Pentecostal churches to receive their knowledge of what they were experiencing," recalls Edwidge Gouin, who led the charismatic group at Assumption Parish for more than 30 years.
"So when we went to the (Full Gospel) Business Men's meetings we saw the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit and we decided to organize our own (breakfast)."
The once-popular breakfasts drew as many as 400 or 500 participants during the first few years. Now they attract an average of 100 people.
Gouin, 81, doesn't want to blame anybody for the drop, but notes charismatics get little support from the Church, whose clergy rarely talk from the pulpit about the charismatic renewal.
"I think that what we need is affirmation and encouragement," she said. "People must be encouraged to participate in these events because at these events we have people who give testimony of a personal relationship with Christ."
Janssen, a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove, says numbers started to decline after 15 years.
"People are always looking for something different; they need change all the time and the breakfast has stayed more or less the same," he said. "We have tried to bring some innovations, but generally our people are getting older and we have not been able to get our young people to join us."
Young people, some of them children and grandchildren of breakfast participants, have chosen to be involved in the Church in their own way.
"They don't buy this stuff that we came up with apparently," Janssen laughs. "And we didn't come up with it, we keep telling them. It was God that came up with it. But still it was from the old and they want something new."
However, Janssen is not complaining. "I have always measured success in the renewal, not by how many are present now, but how many were present and are serving in the Church."
In Edmonton, the charismatic renewal has touched at least 3,000 people, most of whom are serving in parishes. Of 10 deacons ordained last year in the archdiocese, five are charismatic.
Yakimovich is not concerned because, she said, the numbers of most Catholic organizations are down.
"I think what is happening in the charismatic renewal is that there is a select few of us that continue to be called by the Lord to work on this ministry."
CLOSER TO THE LORD
Like Gouin, Germaine Decruyenaere, 88, has been attending the breakfast since it started. It has changed her life.
"Years ago I wasn't nearly as close to the Lord as I am or understood him or knew him on a personal basis," she pointed out. "Now I talk to him all day long."
One reason for the drop in numbers is that over time people have simply changed their priorities, said Decruyenaere. Another is that "priests have not supported us" by speaking from the pulpit about the power of the Holy Spirit.
"It has been a beautiful place of gathering and sharing the love of God," Sandy Williams, 73, said of the breakfasts from his home near Devon. "It has been a great tool to help us mature in our faith."
Janssen said he is a better Catholic because of the renewal and its lively breakfasts. "Without the renewal I seriously doubt that I would still be part of this Church because I really felt that I was dead."
The future looks good, Janssen said.
"The Holy Spirit is alive and well and so is the charismatic renewal. It's probably going to look a little different as time progresses. Perhaps our young people will surprise us as the Holy Spirit touches them and perhaps God is going to do a totally new thing. We don't know."
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