By Sister Irene Muñoz
The Hispanic presence in the parish of St. Mary of the Visitation in Ottumwa, was a grace of God that came fast and full of surprises. So many people coming to a quiet town with aspirations of a better life and seeking God in a new country.
In 2002 came a man from a nearby town and he asked me if I knew of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. “Of course!” I answered. “I was very involved in the movement in the 70s.”
This man, with a lot of knowledge in the renewal introduced it to our parish in Spanish. The priest gave his approval.
And so the movement began with a group of five or six people and eventually grew fast by the grace of God. It was a special time to feel the real presence of the Spirit with praise and receive the gifts that the Spirit offers us.
The gifts received, like we know, are for the benefit of the church. I saw how the church grew because of the gifts received. Today we continue with the prayer group and we have seen a lot of miracles and changes in the community that help bring the reign of God.
You could tell that once they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit they would continue with an enormous hunger of learning more about God. “You who are thirsty, come and drink water” (Isaiah 55:1). The Catholic Renewal is moving and transforming lives with a desire to proclaim Good News.
“But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?” (Romans 10:14). The Holy Spirit has created a great desire for the people to follow Jesus.
Listen to what a woman says about the renewal: “My name is Griselda and for me the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is something very important for the Catholic Church because it is a movement that many don’t know exists.
“I have known about the renewal since 2003 and for me it has been something beautiful through those groups. I was cured from a very deep depression. I took medication that only made me feel tired and when they prayed for me, I was cured! Life for me is now beautiful. God changed my life for good. That love that God gives us is to share with others and to give them the living God like they demonstrated with me. And he said: ‘Go through the whole world and announce the Great Life’ (Mark 16:15). In the Charismatic Renewal prayers go beyond that. It is the direct communication with God because the Holy Spirit flows in each person. God is alive and lives in each one of us.” What testimony! God is great!
The holy Scripture tells us, “He also said to the crowds, ‘When you see [a] cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain — and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot — and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?’ (Luke 12:54-56). This is the moment that presents vital signs that need interpretation. God’s Spirit lets us find new opportunities of what those signs reveal. This requires that we remain open to the Word of God to discern our mission as Christians in the world today. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal has come to our communities. We need to see with our eyes and listen with our ears to what God is saying to us about this movement. God’s Spirit is calling, are we ready to respond?
(Sister Irene Muñoz is multicultural minister for the Ottumwa area.)