With hope for local Church renewal, charismatic Mass opens pre-synod process

| June 14, 2019 | 0 Comments
People praise at the Archdiocesan synod opening Mass

Catholics worship at June 8 Mass at St. Peter in Mendota. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

During an evening Mass filled with praise and worship music June 8, Archbishop Bernard Hebda asked the congregation to join him and other local Catholic leaders in seeking the Holy Spirit as the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis begins a two-year discernment process culminating in a local synod.

Hosted by St. Peter in Mendota — the archdiocese’s oldest parish — the 7 p.m. Mass was held on the Vigil of Pentecost, when the Church commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles. Similar to the Easter Vigil, the Mass included multiple Old Testament readings before the epistle and Gospel readings. It also included the “Veni Sancte Spiritus,” a medieval prayer to the Holy Spirit, before the Gospel acclamation.

“My brothers and sisters, we want the Holy Spirit to enter us, to transform us, to make us radiate his love,” Archbishop Hebda said in his homily. “That has to be our prayer.”

The Mass marked the beginning of a process leading up to an archdiocesan synod, a gathering of delegates from around the archdiocese to discern, with the archbishop, pastoral priorities for the archdiocese’s immediate future. The synod is scheduled for Pentecost weekend 2021. In September, a series of more than 30 prayer and listening events will begin, offering Catholics the opportunity to share their hopes for the local Church.

From the information shared at those events, Archbishop Hebda and archdiocesan leaders will determine the synod’s topics next spring. Then, parishes and deaneries will organize small groups to discuss the topics and provide ideas and feedback ahead of the synod assembly.

In the homily, Archbishop Hebda referred to a quote from St. Benedicta of the Cross — also known as Edith Stein, a 20th-century German Catholic convert and martyr — who called the Holy Spirit the “master who builds the eternal cathedral” and “God’s molding hand.”

 “I look at our local Church and see it crying out to be molded, to be renewed, to be refreshed,” the archbishop said. “I’m confident that that’s the Lord’s desire for us. I’m confident that he will send his Holy Spirit upon us if we ask him.”

“I’ve called you here this evening,” he continued, “to help me do just that: to evoke the Holy Spirit, the one who breathes life into the Church, not just tonight, but throughout the synod process that we’re beginning this evening.”

Archbishop Hebda said he recognizes that the process is a “major investment of your time and energy,“ but that “the renewal of our Church is that important and crucial.”

“The Lord is calling us to be faithful to the movements of the Holy Spirit, to discern the Spirit’s presence in all and to reflect the Holy Spirit in all that we do,” he added.

He asked Catholics to listen to each other’s stories, hopes, dreams, sorrows and challenges.

“I have confidence that the Holy Spirit will use our listening and these next two years, that he will use our dialogues in charity, that he will use the abundant gifts that he has bestowed so generously upon you in this Church — laity, clergy, consecrated men and women — to bring about greater unity in our Church, the unity that renews.”

He continued: “I have no doubts that the results will be spectacular since our God is spectacular.”

The archbishop opened his homily by describing a vision experienced by St. Philip Neri — one of his favorite saints — who had a special devotion to the Holy Spirit throughout his life. According to the saint’s account, he was praying in a catacomb outside of Rome on the Vigil of Pentecost in 1544 when he saw the Holy Spirit as a ball of fire that went into his heart and overwhelmed him with joy. When he died, doctors discovered that he had an enlarged heart that had broken two ribs.

“Imagine,” Archbishop Hebda said, “if our whole diocese could be like that heart of St. Philip Neri: enlarged and burning with the love of the Holy Spirit.”

More than 1,000 people attended the Mass, St. Peter’s leaders estimated, requiring overflow seating in the church’s gathering space. More than 20 priests concelebrated, including Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens — who is chairman of the synod executive committee, which is organizing the pre-synod process and synod assembly — and St. Peter’s pastor, Father Steven Hoffman.

While the Mass was open to all, members of local charismatic movements were extended a special invitation.

“We invited those groups whom we know have a special devotion to the Holy Spirit, because we want the Holy Spirit to lead and guide this process,” Bishop Cozzens said in an interview in May about the synod and June 8 Mass. “It is simply meant to be a way to begin this process in prayer. Almost every great work the Church does … begins with a prayer or a Mass to the Holy Spirit.”

Many attendees wore red, the liturgical color of Pentecost, and even more worshipped with outstretched hands, a common gesture of prayer in the charismatic movement.

When Mass ended, the worship immediately transitioned into a prayer meeting, with continued praise and worship music.

Brother Ken Apuzzo, Catholic campus ministry director at the University of Minnesota, the senior director of mission oversight for St. Paul’s Outreach in Inver Grove Heights, led the prayer meeting. As it began, he gave a short explanation of charismatic prayer, saying that it expresses “what’s inside on the outside, vocalizing the joy and love that the Spirit stirs in our hearts.”

With a focus on the upcoming synod, Brother Ken, the general superior of the Brotherhood of Hope, invited participants to write down words they received in prayer to be shared with synod leadership.

Several attendees interviewed by The Catholic Spirit said they were intrigued by the synod concept and the opportunity for the local Church to examine itself and experience renewal.

Father Kevin Manthey, chaplain of Hill-Murray School in Maplewood, said he attended the Mass because of his membership in the Emmanuel Community, a charismatic community with about 20 members in the Twin Cities.

“We’re very small, so it was an opportunity gather together with many other charismatics of the local communities to celebrate together the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and also to support our bishops and the beginning of the synod process,” he said.

Karen Kostohris, 57, said she attended because of her membership in Community of Christ the Redeemer, a large charismatic community based in West St. Paul. A parishioner of St. Joseph in West St. Paul, she said she was honored to accept the archbishop’s invitation to “pray for the synod and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our archdiocese.”

“I was overwhelmed by how many people who were here that I didn’t know and are just having the same enthusiasm for the Holy Spirit in the Church and the renewal of the Church,” she said.

Bishop Cozzens presided over a related Mass for Spanish-speaking Catholics that began at 10:30 p.m. that night at Guardian Angels in Chaska.

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