By Dr. Carly York | Correspondent
“This weekend we celebrate with the Church throughout the world the great feast of Pentecost, the feast that commemorates the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Church,” Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., said to more than 100 faithful Catholics and members of ecumenical groups gathered to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, both at Pentecost and now, in their lives.
Bishop O’Connell celebrated the vigil Mass for the daylong Catholic Charismatic Renewal Pentecost Rally, held June 8 in St. Mary Church, Middletown.
“I can’t overstate the importance of Pentecost. It is the completion of the Pascal mystery,” said Father Jeffrey Kegley, St. Mary pastor and liaison to the diocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal, which hosted the event. Father Kegley was among the day’s featured presenters.
“Were you baptized in the Holy Spirit just to be a fan of Jesus?” Father Kegley asked the group.
“A disciple realizes that he is baptized in the Holy Spirit, and he can’t just sit in the pew. A disciple goes out to complete the work of Jesus,” he challenged the faithful.
Father Kegley’s words reflected the mission of the Diocese of Trenton Catholic Charismatic Renewal, a vibrant and growing ministry. The Pentecost Rally was one of their main conferences for the year, culminating in the Vigil Mass.
In his homily, Bishop O’Connell spoke of the importance of Pentecost, saying, “The Holy Spirit, on that first Pentecost, gave those first Apostles a new language that overcame all previous confusion and barriers to God’s communication. It was a language whose first expressions were words of peace and forgiveness and unity. ‘Peace be with you.’ ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ ‘Forgive.’ That was what God in Christ through the Holy Spirit wanted for his holy people.”
“The Christian life is impossible without the Holy Spirit,” stressed the Bishop. “Prayer is not possible without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches and animates the Church. ... Today, as we celebrate this Eucharist, we should open ourselves to the Holy Spirit once more so that we, too, like those first Apostles, might learn the new language of the Pentecost and speak it boldly, in word and action, to a waiting world.”
Glenda Phillips Lee, ecumenical minister and frequent missionary to Africa, came to sing and pray for the group after Father Kegley’s talk. Certain members of the congregation were led to the front of the church, where Lee prayed over them.
Lee explained that the Holy Spirit is still active at work in peoples’ lives today, giving them direction.
In his talk, speaker Jim Tortorici said, “We pray, and Jesus heals! The Devil will tell you that you are not worthy. But you have the choice to obey the voice of Jesus.”
Tortorici is a leader of the Trenton Unbound Ministry of the DOTCCR and a theology teacher at Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft. “At Pentecost, the Spirit of God fell on the people and changed the world. We need to help our brothers and sisters know that they are children of God. We need to have the heart of Jesus for the broken lost people of the world.”
Tatiana Burgos, a member of St. Mary Parish, Middletown, and a prayer leader with Trenton Unbound Ministry, said, “I am seeing healing. It is real and tangible. It comes through the Holy Spirit.”
Jessica Kortenhaus, music director in St. Mary Parish, was pleased to organize the liturgical music for this special Mass, which, she said, “was a joy and challenge to put together, as we were hoping to capture the spirit of the rally throughout the day, along with the richness of the tradition of the Church and this solemnity.
“The hope is that through the music, people are led into a deeper worship experience and can come closer to Jesus,” she said.
Father Kegley summed up the rally and Mass, saying, “I believe each person who came felt a personal Pentecost. They will be able to go back to their home parishes and make a positive effect.”