Author: Renewal Ministries Staff

‘Saudades’: Brazilians Embrace Renewal

This article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ May 2019 newsletter.

At the National Formation Conference for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Brazil, attendees each received a sheaf of wheat as they entered. Later, the young people went through the crowd of fifteen thousand, collecting all the wheat in baskets, and then placing them at the feet of Jesus, to emphasize that Pentecost in the Old Testament was a harvest festival as well as a time to celebrate the giving of the law on Sinai. Our Pentecost is meant to bring in a harvest of souls by the power of the Spirit.

By Patti Mansfield

Patti Mansfield

“Patti, I have a great feeling that you will be in my country one day.” These words were scrawled on a postcard from Rio sent to me by a Brazilian Jesuit in 1971. They proved to be prophetic! Since 1994, I have been to Brazil more than twenty-five times. I am in love with Brazil and her people, and I can understand their word “Saudades.”  It means: “I’m missing and loving you!”

Why do I love Brazil? I love the way Brazilians have embraced and lived the baptism in the Spirit with enthusiasm and joy. There are twelve million Brazilians who are baptized in the Holy Spirit. I remember hearing Archbishop Alberto Taveira tell thousands of university students, “You are called to be apostles of the baptism in the Spirit.” There it is! Baptism in the Spirit: front and center! Eight hundred vibrant communities have borne tremendous spiritual fruit and priestly vocations. Then there are the 14,000 prayer groups under the leadership of the Charismatic Renewal of Brazil (RCC).

The baptism in the Spirit has overflowed in works of prayer and formation; intercession; evangelization; care for the poor; ministry to children; outreach to university students, lawyers, judges, and politicians; twenty-four-hour Catholic Charismatic radio and television; publications; and more.

One of the things I love the most is the way Mary is honored in Brazil, especially Our Lady of Aparecida, their patroness. The Brazilians have set to music the Prayer of Consecration, “O my Queen, O my Mother, I give myself entirely to you.” I have never been to an event of the Renewal in Brazil where Our Lady was not honored and welcomed. I believe that this integration of Mary and the Holy Spirit is the secret of their fruitfulness, and we would do well to learn from them!

Speaking of Aparecida, I was called there suddenly in July 2018, to replace Sr. Briege McKenna at a retreat for priests. Aparecida is the town where Our Lady appeared about three hundred years ago, and it is the spiritual heart of Brazil. There were over two hundred priests; the average age was about thirty eight! Some men had just been ordained and about a third of the priests were new to the Charismatic Renewal. I was there just after the abuse scandal broke in the States, and I wanted to do something to strengthen the priesthood. By the grace of God, I was able to minister personally through the charismatic gift of revelation to each man. I’ve been used in this charism before, but never with the speed and accuracy that I experienced during those days. It was an increase and acceleration of grace because the times we’re living in call for it!

And that leads me to the prophetic word I received my last day with the priests:

“Brazil will lead the world in this new move of My Spirit which is coming. As you yield to Me, as you praise Me, as you look to Me, I will greatly increase your numbers. I will open doors that until now have been shut. I will give you an “entrée” to people who up to now have been closed. You will be amazed at the way the fire spreads. As in the beginning, in the first Pentecost, my Spirit will use you with great power. Be careful. Make sure to keep yourself very humble and to acknowledge that it is My power using you and not any force of persuasion of your own. Break your pride. Break your egoism. And you will see what the power of My Spirit can do. Remain humble, looking at Me and watch what I, the Lord your God, will do.”

Two months later, I was back in Brazil for a conference for six thousand teens at the Sanctuary of the Mother of God in Sao Paolo, home of my dear friend Fr. Marcelo Rossi, whose vocation was born in the Charismatic Renewal. His nearly twenty-five years of priesthood have been spent lifting up the Lord Jesus Christ through his celebration of the Eucharist (over six thousand people come to Mass at 6 a.m.), his music, and his books. He is followed by close to ten million people daily on the Internet and is one of the best-known priests in Brazil. What a joy to call the youth “to love Jesus as He has never been loved before!”

Katia Roldi Zavaris, president of the National Council of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Brazil, then invited me to the National Formation Conference in January of this year at Cancao Nova, in the largest covered stadium in Latin America. Brazil is celebrating fifty years of Charismatic Renewal in their country. For me, Katia is a living example of what Saint John Paul II meant when he spoke about “the feminine genius”the particular way a woman can exercise leadership with maternal grace. When Katia assumed the presidency, this event drew four thousand leaders and very few priests. This year, there were fifteen thousand leaders (most under the age of thirty-five), three hundred seminarians, and 180 priests, along with many bishops.

The leadership council began the celebration by processing in with an open Bible over their hearts to signal the commitment to reading and obeying the Word of God. Katia had been deeply impressed by the prophetic word I received at Circus Maximus in the presence of Pope Francis on June 3, 2017. In one of her talks, she referred to that prophecy:

“Lift up your eyes and see, that the fields are white for harvest. And if you would obey me, and if you would obey the prompting of my Spirit, you will yet see, infinitely more than you can ask or imagine. You will yet see the power of my Spirit descend upon the human race. I tell you, the fields are white for harvest, but I need your obedience, I need your docility, I need your faith, and you will yet see marvels that will astound you, infinitely more than you can ask or imagine, for the glory of my name.”

The fields are white! As people entered, each one received a sheaf of wheat. After Katia’s presentation, the young people went through the crowd of fifteen thousand, collecting all the wheat in baskets, which were then placed at the feet of Jesus. Katia made the point that Pentecost in the Old Testament was a harvest festival as well as a time to celebrate the giving of the law on Sinai. Our Pentecost is meant to bring in a harvest of souls by the power of the Spirit.

My travel companion received a prophetic word for the Brazilian leaders, knowing nothing about my prophecy to the priests last July. The similarities are striking!

“I am sending a new and greater wave of My Spirit upon you. Greater things will you do in My Spirit. All that you have seen and experienced has been a foretaste of My Spirit with you. As I release this new wave upon you, there will be increase . . . exponential increase of numbers . . . increase in My gifts and power. As you love My Mother and remain low in humility, I will bring more! You, My people of Brazil, will be a light, a witness to the world of the new and fresh outpouring of My Spirit. They will look upon you and hunger and thirst for My Spirit to come in new ways. You will bring My Spirit to the world.”

Amen!  Let it be!

Patti Gallagher Mansfield was a participant in the historic Duquesne Weekend that marked the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. From the first days of the Renewal, she has served in leadership through her teaching, writing and pastoral ministry.  Patti has ministered at conferences and retreats for laity and priests around the world.  For the past fifty years, she has proclaimed the grace of the baptism in the Spirit on all five continents. 

She has authored As By A New Pentecost: Golden Jubilee Edition,Proclaim the Joy of the Gospel, and Everyday Holiness. She also is a frequent guest on The Choices We Face.

Patti is married to Al Mansfield, Director of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans, Louisiana, and together they serve as liaisons to the Archbishop of New Orleans on behalf of the Renewal.  They have four adult children and eleven grandchildren.  In the Jubilee Year 2000, the Mansfields were awarded the Papal Medal, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For the Church and the Pope), by Saint John Paul II.

Homosexual Acts Cannot Move Us Closer to God

Pete Buttigieg speaking at a fundraiser in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Lorie Shaull (Flikr, Creative Commons).

This article originally appeared online at The National Catholic Register.

By Msgr. Charles Pope

In recent remarks, Pete Buttigieg, Democratic presidential candidate and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, remarked that his same-sex “marriage” to Chasten Glezman has brought him closer to God. His remarks were directed toward Vice President Mike Pence, who is on record as opposing such “marriages.” Buttigieg said:

“Being married to Chasten has made me a better human being because it has made me more compassionate, more understanding, more self-aware and more decent. My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man. And yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God.”

This raises a question: To what god has he moved closer? Respectfully and sincerely, Mr. Buttigieg, it cannot be the God who has revealed himself in the Scriptures and through the Church. God is not in the habit of speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He does not contradict himself by altering, let alone reversing (as you claim) his teachings.

At every stage of scriptural revelation, from Genesis through the New Testament, God has spoken of homosexual acts as sinful and disordered. He also condemns other forms of illicit sexual union such as fornication and adultery. Jesus even condemns the entertaining of lustful thoughts. I have written before of the biblical record on these teachings (“Do Not Be Deceived: God Forbids Homosexual Acts”).

Some point out that Jesus is never recorded in Scripture as condemning homosexual acts. That may be true — but he is not recorded as condemning rape, either. An argument based on silence is weak at best and erroneous at worst. Further, Jesus said to his apostles “He who hears you hears me” — and the apostles unambiguously describe homosexual acts as sinful. These biblical texts are not ambiguous, and they are consistent across every biblical era. They support the Church’s proper conclusion as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“Basing itself on sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, [Genesis 19:1-29Romans 1:18ff1 Corinthians 6:9-101 Timothy 1:10inter al.] tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved” (2357).

Continue reading here.

Be Love Revolution Joins Renewal Ministries’ Family

The Be Love Revolution ministers to high-school-aged young women through large weekly (or bi-weekly) events, and also through smaller groups and one-on-one mentorship.

In January, Renewal Ministries welcomed Be Love Revolution (BLR) into its family. Be Love Revolution is an outreach primarily to high-school-aged young women that is led by Debbie Herbeck and a team of young adult women with hearts for serving the next generation.

“I am very grateful—and in amazement—how Be Love Revolution has grown to reach more and more young girls and help them establish strong identities in Christ,” said Renewal Ministries’ President Ralph Martin. “What a valuable service in such challenging times! We are honored to have BLR join the Renewal Ministries family of ministries that are strengthening men and women, boys and girls, all over the world.”

Renewal Ministries’ Vice President Peter Herbeck agrees: “This is a mature ministry that has successfully mobilized young women from elementary through high school and college and is doing a very effective job of making disciples. They are talented and inspiring young women who are hungry to love as Jesus loves.”

BLR officially began in 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with the intention of creating a culture that helps young women develop a personal relationship with Jesus and grow into mature disciples. Its mission is three-fold:

  • Be His: Help young women know the personal and transformative love of Jesus.
  • Be Free: Form young women to live freely and confidently as daughters of God.
  • Be Love: Equip and empower young women to be God’s love in the world today.

Today the ministry “spreads its net wide” to reach large numbers of young women at its weekly event called “Beloved,” which features practical talks, testimonies, small groups, and praise and worship. BLR also reaches large numbers of young women at retreats and Pine Hills Girls’ Camp. An important part of BLR’s ministry, however, is reaching smaller numbers through women’s groups, Bible studies, mission opportunities, and one-on-one mentoring; those smaller numbers are intentional, Debbie explained. In fact, the key to BLR’s success is that it has moved away from a programmatic approach and into personal mentoring and discipling.

“We have lots of girls involved, but I see tremendous fruit from the smaller groups and our more personal times together,” said Debbie. “Girls have a place to share their lives and be accountable to each other. They are growing as disciples, and being equipped and empowered as leaders. It’s inspiring to see the older girls leading retreats, giving talks, and praying and caring for their younger sisters in Christ. It’s an environment of faith where everyone is learning how to love.” 

“Accompanying, discipling, and being with girls—it works,” added Debbie, who has thirty-five years of experience in youth and women’s ministry, leading Pine Hills Girls Camp, mission work, speaking, and writing. “In today’s culture, young people need personal care and formation, not just information. Mentorship is not passive; we walk with them day in and day out, helping them to confidently choose Christ.”

“Mentorship is an investment in someone’s life,” she continued, “and it can be hard to do because it takes time, energy, and patience. By being present we want to remind them in a visible and tangible way that they are loved and valued.”

According to one high schooler, “I’ve grown as a daughter of Christ; I’ve learned to face my fears, try new things, and I don’t have to worry about being judged by others.”

BLR was featured on a 2018-19 episode of The Choices We Face. Afterward, Debbie said they received dozens of calls from women who want to implement BLR in their parish or school—which reflects the “hunger and need for this kind of ministry to young people.”

BLR has begun expanding outside of the Ann Arbor area. According to Debbie, there is a fledgling chapter in Maryland and one starting in Lansing, Michigan, that is “ready to go, has the vision, and has the support within the local high school and parish.” Groups in northern Canada, Kansas, and even someone in Italy have all expressed interest in establishing BLR in their communities as well.

Debbie said, “If women have a vision for what we are doing and the ability to not just run a program, but to invest in and mentor young women—to create a culture of love—then they can do what we are doing. Saint Mother Teresa is our model because we believe that loving the person right in front of you is possible for all of us, and this causes a ripple effect. We sincerely believe we can transform the world through a revolution of love—one person at a time.”

Peter Thompson: Answering the Call

Peter Thompson teaches at a church in Kenya.

Peter Thompson recently retired as Renewal Ministries’ country coordinator to Kenya, after more than twenty-one years of serving on Renewal Ministries’ mission trips and fifteen years as a country coordinator. Peter is retiring, because he will celebrate his eightieth birthday this year and believes it is time to pass on the reins. Bohumir (Bohus) Zivcak, from Slovakia, has replaced Peter as country coordinator for Kenya. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Peter about his years of service.

How did you come to work with Renewal Ministries?

Africa has been on my heart since I was a child, and I even tested a vocation as a mission priest with the Holy Ghost Fathers. However, I learned that ordained priesthood was not my calling, and I then went straight to compulsory military service. I was then married and had three children. We moved from England to Alberta, Canada, in 1967, when I joined the Hudson’s Bay Company as an assistant display director.

In 1974, I experienced a deep conversion through the Renewal. In fact, I first heard Ralph Martin speak in 1976 at the first major conference for the Renewal in western Canada.

After 1990, when Pope John Paul II called for a decade of evangelization in preparation for the Jubilee Year 200, I was inspired to live out my faith in an even deeper and more radical way. My wife and I returned to England to serve for two years with Sion Catholic Community for evangelization in parish missions with street ministry.

In 1996, I served on mission in the war-torn African country of Eritrea. Then, in 1997, I heard Ralph Martin and Peter Herbeck speak at a Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) conference. Peter spoke about missions, and we spoke afterward. In 1998, I went to Ghana on my first mission with Renewal Ministries. The next year, I went to Uganda, and in 2001, to Tanzania. In 2004, Renewal Ministries made me a country coordinator for Kenya.

I also served in the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) offices for eight years and traveled to different parts of the world, including the Vatican.

Throughout the years, I have supported my ministry through my work as an artist. You can view my work at www.peterthompsonart.ca.

Tell us about the specific work you did as a missionary.

I have gone on twenty-five missions to Africa and fifteen to Kenya as the country coordinator serving in multiple dioceses. I’ve also served in the Caribbean, South Korea, India, Asia, and done teaching and leadership formation in Rome.

I discovered how hungry people are for the Gospel. The word would get out that we were in an area, and people would travel for many miles. I did a lot of apologetics because of the influence of more fundamental Christianity that made inroads in Africa. They would teach people that Catholics worshipped bread and statues, and that Mary had other children. But people were hungry to know their faith and answer these challenging questions. A lot of what I was asked to do was equipping the people.

In one area, we asked a group of catechists how many of them had a catechism. Only three of them did—so we went to a basilica in Nairobi and bought every catechism they had. Everyone left with one.

Please share some of your mission experiences with us.

In 2004, I traveled to Kenya with the previous country coordinators, Lloyd and Nancy Greenhaw. There was a priest who described the areas we were going into as “Satan’s territory.” We traveled 7000 feet up, and on the first day or so, hardly anyone came. However, the word gradually got around, and by the end of our time there, we were ministering to thousands of people gathered on terraces going up the hillsides. There were amazing healings and deliverances that took place, by the grace of God.

Another time, we were in what a priest had described to us as a very pagan area. On the first day, only two or three people came. We thought, “If they won’t come to us, we will go to them.” So we took a loud speaker and rode in the back of a pickup truck. There were no doors to knock on—since the people literally had no doors—so we met people where they were.

And finally, in Lunga Lunga, in Kenya, once I was speaking on Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” At that point, a green mamba—a very dangerous, very venomous snake—began moving toward a group of children, and some men came forward and crushed the head of the serpent. The Gospel was brought alive right in front of us, and it was very powerful.

What have you learned from your years of mission work?

It’s a humbling experience, because I’ve gained so much from being able to travel and to experience the Universal Church in different regions of the world. It has impacted and deepened my love for the Church Christ founded. Few people have had that opportunity, and God’s given that opportunity to me. I have experienced the witness of people who live in extremely difficult situations, and I have seen their faith and courage. It has been a great gift. They have been such a witness to me over the years about what it means to be a follower of Christ.

As someone from Western society, who has experienced all the comforts of life, the experience of serving in missions has allowed me to be able to experience the privations of life, and it has taught me to surrender all of those comforts for the sake of the Gospel. Once in Uganda, I remember having torn mosquito netting, a pail full of hot water to wash—splash—yourself in, and a little hut full of mosquitoes. The toilet was a hole in the ground. We ate boiled bananas morning, noon, and night, by handfuls. I learned that what for me are privations are simply daily life for others. This helps us grow in holiness. We need to embrace that. The people there said, “You are one of the only ones to come and live with us.”

What are your hopes for retirement?

I don’t consider myself retired. I still have my health. I’m still continuing to teach wherever the Lord opens doors. I don’t see myself stopping. In fact, I have been added as a member of Renewal Ministries’ Speakers’ Bureau.

After your years of service, what aspects of Renewal Ministries do you appreciate most?

God called Renewal Ministries into a worldwide apostolate whereby the lay and ministerial priesthood can work together in the four corners of the world—it’s a profound grace God has given Renewal Ministries for our time. The vision of Renewal Ministries stirs the spirit to be a witness, to proclaim the Gospel, and to serve the Church universal.

Renewal Ministries really created a tremendous opportunity for lay people to experience missions in different parts of the world. I am grateful to have been, and to continue to be, a part of that.

‘Let Your Faith Rise Up’

By Al Mansfield

Just over a year ago, I was praying. I was very concerned about some things in the Church, in our country, and in the world. I admit that I was feeling somewhat discouraged and lacking in faith and hope. Then I was surprised to sense the Lord speaking a word to my heart. The following is what I heard:

“Am I not the Lord God of all flesh? Are not the times and seasons in My hands? Do not the skies and the waters and the earth obey my command? Is anything too difficult for Me, says the Lord.

“You mourn and weep over my Body, the Church, but do not mourn and weep as those who have no faith. You grieve over my Body, the Church, but do not grieve as those who have no hope.

“I say to you, look to who I am, says the Lord. Keep faith with Me and in Me. Let your faith rise when all else would pull you down. Let your faith neither falter nor fail. For your faith is in a living God. Your faith is in an all-knowing and all-wise God. Your faith is in an all-powerful God. Your faith is in an all-loving God. I am never shocked; I am never surprised; I am never caught off-guard; I am never unprepared, says the Lord.

“In Me are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Take hold of Me by faith. Let your faith rise. Let your faith rise. Let your faith rise. I am the victor, says the Lord. Keep faith with my victory, says the Lord. Rejoice in my victory, and your faith will be your victory as well.

“For my Holy Spirit is strong. My Holy Spirit is fierce. My Holy Spirit is tenacious. My Holy Spirit is zealous for my glory. My Holy Spirit is not mocked. Do not grieve my Holy Spirit. Do not grieve or anger the Lord God who gives you his Holy Spirit. Yield to my Holy Spirit, says the Lord, and let your faith rise up!”

In this word, I felt like the Lord was chiding me and challenging me to exercise greater faith. In fact, it seems that the Lord is rather consistently chiding and challenging me, and I believe all of us, to exercise greater faith.

To exercise faith in the midst of the kinds of issues we face in the Church and in the world doesn’t mean that we don’t face reality or remain in ignorance or denial. But it does mean that we “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). It means letting God’s Word, rather than our own thoughts and feelings, rule our lives.

To exercise faith means actually living our lives day-by-day, based on the truths that we profess to believe: that God exists; that God is a loving Father; that Jesus came and shed his blood on the cross and rose again for our salvation; that God’s own love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit; that God promises to make all things work together unto good for those who love Him; that we are destined to share in Christ’s ultimate victory over sin and death.

I wish I could tell you that all it took was receiving this word for me to never again yield to discouragement or negative thinking. Alas, that would not be quite accurate. In fact, it was embarrassing for me to listen to others quote this word back to me, saying how much it helped them, while I myself was still struggling. But I share it here now with the hope that it will challenge me anew, and perhaps benefit others as well.

 

Al Mansfield has served the Catholic Church for fifty years in teaching, pastoral ministry, and administration. He holds an undergraduate degree in history and a Master’s degree in theology from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was pursuing a doctorate in religion when the Lord called him into full-time ministry in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
Al has been a pioneer in the Renewal in the South since 1970, serving as director of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans Office. Since 1972, Al has had the chief responsibility for organizing and managing conferences and other events in New Orleans that have attracted thousands of people from around the country. He is a past member of the National Advisory Committee and he served the National Service Committee as a “Traveling Timothy.” Al is a recognized teacher with a deep love for the Word of God and has spoken at conferences and retreats around the country. Al is married to Patti Mansfield and they have four children and eleven grandchildren. In 1995, Archbishop Francis B. Schulte appointed Al and Patti to be his
liaisons to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. In 2000, they were awarded the Papal Medal, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For the Church and the Pope), by Saint John Paul II.