Diocesan News

Diocese’s New Catholic Charismatic Renewal Director Has Fresh Ideas to Revamp Program

“It’s amazing to think that a group of college kids started a movement that spread around the whole world,” says Father John Maduri, recalling the origins of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement in 1967. He hopes to see the movement grow in the Diocese of Brooklyn. (Photo: Diocese of Brooklyn)

BATH BEACH — Father John Maduri likes to say that the Holy Spirit guides everything he does in his life. And he wants other Catholics to feel the power of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.

That’s why Father Maduri, pastor of Most Precious Blood-Saints Simon and Jude Parish in Bath Beach, was grateful when Bishop Robert Brennan appointed him director of the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Catholic Charismatic Renewal, a program aimed at promoting the Holy Spirit through education and evangelization.

“The Holy Spirit is the forgotten part of the Holy Trinity, I think. People pray to the Father and to the Son but the Holy Spirit gets lost. We want to change that,” Father Maduri explained.

The diocese has had a Charismatic Renewal program for more than 40 years. The previous director, a layperson, retired in December. Father Maduri has ambitious plans to revamp the program, which he will operate out of his parish. 

He has already lined up five volunteers to serve on his committee. “The main thing we will be doing is expanding the mission,” he said.

To that end, Father Maduri launched a website and will host a series of “Life in the Spirit” seminars, as well as organize outreach efforts at parishes and on college campuses. 

The revamped program’s first major event, an all-day conference, is set for Saturday, June 8, at the Emmaus Center in Williamsburg. The guest speaker, Dr. John Bergsma, a theology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, will discuss the Holy Spirit in Scripture.

High school juniors and seniors and young adults will be invited to join Father Maduri for dinner and a Q&A session, he explained.

According to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal National Service Committee, the Charismatic Renewal movement has touched an estimated 100 million people in 238 countries around the globe.

The worldwide movement was born on an American college campus in the turbulent 1960s. Students and professors from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh who had attended a retreat in 1967 started the movement because they felt the presence of the Holy Spirit at the retreat and wanted others to have that same experience.

Their enthusiasm and eagerness spread to other college campuses and the Charismatic Renewal movement started to gain momentum.

“What the students from Duquesne University received was a beautiful experience,” Father Maduri said. “And that began a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, like a new Pentecost upon the Church. And then from there, it just spread like wildfire throughout the world.”

In 1969, two years after that Duquesne University retreat, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’s Committee on Doctrine investigated Catholic Charismatic Renewal and subsequently issued a statement affirming the movement.

“Theologically, the movement has legitimate reasons for existence. It has a strong biblical basis,” the committee said in the statement.

Father Maduri cherishes his relationship with the Holy Spirit. “It empowers everything I do. I think the enthusiasm I’ve maintained for my ministry as a priest for 37 years is certainly rooted in that relationship with the Holy Spirit,” said Father Maduri, who was ordained in 1987.

His goal for the diocese’s Charismatic Renewal is simple. “I think the goal is just generally to introduce, or reintroduce, people to the Holy Spirit into the life of the Catholic community,” he said.