Ralph Martin recently received an email asking for prayers for a group of young adults about to gather for a Holy Spirit Weekend, which had been organized in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Duquense Weekend. Ralph agreed and asked the organizers to let him know how the weekend went. Below is their report on the event.
By Lynne May
Last fall, I received a call from my friend, Kathryn Elliott. Her voice was filled with excitement as she explained how she wanted to put together a retreat in honor of the fifty-year anniversary of the Duquesne Weekend. Was I interested in helping her get a group of young adults together to pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit? “Yes!” I nearly yelled into the phone.
The Holy Spirit Weekend was a three-day event this summer at two houses on Lake Anna, in northern Virginia. We had about twenty people travel in from six different states. I live in Michigan and invited friends, and Kathryn lives in Virginia and invited her friends. There was a mix of Catholics and Protestants, men and women. We wanted to keep it small, so that we could really get to know each other and build a particular kind of worship environment. Our original aim was for a weekend retreat of friends who had already been baptized in the Holy Spirit to pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our generation.
We prepared for the weekend by reading things like Patti Mansfield’s As By A New Pentecost and by asking friends and leaders in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (like Patti Mansfield and Ralph Martin) to intercede in prayer for the weekend.
On Friday night, we had each person answer the question: Why are you here, at this retreat?
Wesley, from New Jersey, shared about how he had received the flier for the retreat from someone he knew. When he learned that the purpose was to ask for a greater stirring of the Holy Spirit, he knew he had to be there! For months, he had been reading the Scriptures and praying, wrestling with these questions: Why don’t I see what happens in Scriptures to Jesus and the disciples happening today? Where are the signs and wonders? Wesley concluded that his receipt of the flier had to do with the Holy Spirit.
Then there was Anna. Kathryn had been at a church event in the DC area. After it ended, Kathryn heard the Holy Spirit say to her, “Go up to that woman over there and invite her to the Holy Spirit Weekend.” So that’s what Kathryn did. She said, “Hi—my name is Kathryn. A group of my friends and I are hosting a retreat where we are asking for more of the Holy Spirit. Would you like to come?” And Anna, though surprised, said yes almost immediately. For months, she had been thirsting for more community and more of the Holy Spirit. She had been begging God for these things, but wasn’t sure how to get them. So when Kathryn approached her, she knew it was God answering her prayers. When Anna got in her car that night to drive home, she said to the Lord, “So, you really want me to do this, go on a retreat with people I don’t know, with a woman I just met?” God’s reply was priceless: “Happy birthday, Anna.” It was Anna’s birthday, and this was God’s present to her.
Anna was one of five people who came to the retreat who had little experience with the Charismatic Renewal prior to the weekend—these individuals barely knew Kathryn and I! The Holy Spirit also prompted me to invite a young woman named Amanda, whom I met one Saturday while I was praying in a church. The Friday night of the retreat, the Spirit prompted me to invite her to receive baptism in the Spirit, as she hadn’t been prayed with for that. It was awesome!
We had a prayer meeting on Saturday night. We weren’t sure how God was going to move us to ask for more of the Spirit, but we trusted He would show us as the prayer meeting progressed.
As prophetic words came out, Alex, who was leading the time, felt inspired to have us ask for more of the Holy Spirit in various areas of our lives.
Some areas people felt inspired to pray for:
- our vocations.
- gifting in evangelism.
- healing for ourselves and for those in our lives.
- boldness—that every single person we would meet would meet the Lord.
- more prophecy and words of knowledge.
- the courage to evangelize our families.
- to be filled with the Lord’s strength, not our own.
- for unity.
As we interceded for these various areas, interspersed throughout our intercession were these other words:
- a vision of all of us worshipping in unity in heaven—where there will be no more disunity or tears.
- an image of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan. The Father said: “Here I am, for you. Jesus my Son is here too, and His Spirit is upon you.” We were right by the river’s edge.
- a sense that we should be willing to open our doors to one another, this group gathered at this retreat.
- A sense that God was calling us to invest ourselves fully where He had planted us, like there is no tomorrow.
On Sunday, we went to church services, cleaned, had lunch, and wrapped up with a couple of worship songs.
We don’t know what comes next, but we want to be open to however the Spirit inspires us! The doors of communication, of partnership in mission, and of friendship are now open. We are grateful for all the faith-filled peers we met. As one participant, Clara, put it, “It’s like we’ve known each other for years!”
Kathryn and I have said more than once that this whole experience felt like some kind of taste of, a glimpse into, the early days of the Renewal: Words of knowledge about inviting strangers to a retreat that was a grassroots effort. Inspired by the Holy Spirit. Praying over someone in a living room spontaneously for baptism in the Spirit. People being drawn to the retreat from different corners of the US. It was amazing. The retreat changed both of us and made our faith that much more radical—and dare I say, joy-filled.
Kathryn and I wanted to create something akin to the Duquesne weekend for our generation, and God received that desire and blessed it. Now, there’s no going back, only forward. We pray we can respond with humility, courage, and joy, however God leads.
If you would like to learn more about the Holy Spirit Weekend, you can contact Lynne or Kathryn at firstname.lastname@example.org.