Catholic Charismatic Renewal

 Diocese of Leeds

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The History of Charismatic Renewal

Charismatic Renewal in the Diocese of Leeds

My memories include - visiting the convent in Harrogate for Sunday afternoons of praise and teaching, dozens attending the seminars at the old St Matthew's church on Allerton Road, packed out days of renewal at St Bede's (in the 6th form block), packed priests retreat weeks at TASC in Easter week, hours of praise on Easter Sunday evening at Myddleton Lodge, hours of praise at the cathedral, a day of renewal with Cardinal Suenens in Castleford town hall, seminars in Ripon, Halifax, Huddersfield, the Briery ..... My problem is putting dates to any of this! (John Joyce)

Leeds Diocesan Charismatic Renewal Service Team history

The beginning of the Service Team for Charismatic Renewal in the Leeds Diocese was called into being by Bishop Wheeler. In the mid to late seventies many parishes were experiencing a new movement of the Holy Spirit as prayer groups sprang up throughout the diocese and people were experiencing this new way of praying in a very free and spontaneous way.

Bishop Wheeler invited all the groups to come together and share their thoughts and ways of moving ahead – this was to be achieved by asking every prayer group to send a couple of representatives to a meeting in the old RE Centre which was a couple of rooms in Hinsley Hall (long before the Diocese had purchased the whole complex)

There was a huge gathering of priests and laity and a wide variety of views on the way forward for the Charismatic Renewal in the diocese – very interesting to be there but sad too at some of the divisions expressed. Bishop Wheeler had asked Fr Backhouse to be the person to report back on the findings of the evening and of the future of the Renewal and this reporting back to the Bishop continued throughout the whole of the years since then.

Prayer Groups continued as before with many people being instrumental in bringing wonderful speakers on a regular basis into the diocese. The late Sr Lucy Ennis played a very big part in organising a monthly Sundays of Renewal at the Convent in Harrogate where many people heard wonderful speakers and also experienced many healings.

A service team was formed and organised events, Life in the Spirit Seminars which was attended by many priests and people but eventually the team settled into a small group led by Fr Tom Kenny and there were representatives from all the different areas of diocese, Tony Hackett for Bradford, Dennis MaCauley and Albert Glendenning Wakefield (who was a wonder at producing great posters in a short space of time), Peter Bryne, Burley in Wharfedale, Fr Joe Knowles, Terry Stephens from Huddersfield and Maureen Green from Harrogate and we met in the RE Centre in Hinsley Hall and prayed and planned and arranged, Life in the Spirit Seminars, wonderful gatherings of Prayer and Praise, especially for the Feast of Christ the King when we travelled to Ilkley, to the Cathedral and to Trinity and All Saints.

In the past when the priests had an Easter Retreat at Trinity and all Saints we would often invite the main speaker to stay over and spend a day with us and we received many blessings from these days. I remember in 2003 Fr Bob de Grandis SSJ encouraging us to allow ourselves to receive the gift of tongues and the day spent with Cardinal Suenens in Pontefract was a memorable life-giving day.

When the Cathedral was closed for refurbishing we spent our time travelling around the diocese having Mass on a Sunday afternoon followed by praise and worship, and healing prayers. When we couldn’t find a venue in the centre of Leeds we were invited to use the Oxford Place Methodist Church along the way and we celebrated Mass there with Fr Peter Rosser – trying to encourage and spread the Good News.

The Service Team met about every six weeks and we spent time together on retreats, weekends at Ilkley, Hazlewood and another weekend spent in Leeds praying through the preparation of our Mission Statement with Sr Mary Bernard being our facilitator. By this time the group had grown with Sr Margaret, John Joyce, Elaine Plunkett and Merle Sutcliffe part of the group. (I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone)

Representatives attended the National Service Team in London and Birmingham and shared the news from our Diocese with the many other representatives from around the country.

Fr Tom Kenny was our chairman for many years but when it was difficult for him to travel Maureen Green became chairperson and we began to meet in each other’s homes. Dolores Omand joined the team representing the Harrogate area, then Pat and John Brown and Terry Muddiman and Pauline Tew joined us in 2003 on the team, and Tony and Mary Hackett hosted many meetings, as did Joan and Terry Muddiman, always a good time of prayer and praise followed by tea and cakes and planning! Fr Peter Rosser joined us whenever possible. We also had an occasional day together in Harrogate with a shared table and sunshine and prays in the garden (hence a couple of relaxed pictures in our Photo Gallery). Fr Tom died in 2014 - click here for some information about him.

One valuable item was a monthly newsletter giving information of events and with contributions from anyone who cared to supply stories, prayers and even jokes This was forwarded often via email to people around the diocese and ran for a couple of years.

When Fr Pat Collins led a retreat at the Briery we usually requested an extra day for him to stay and lead us in prayer and great crowds came. We also ran a Life in the Spirit Seminars at Ilkley, which was a wonderful time of sharing and growing. – and so it continues in perhaps a different format with different people serving, but the Holy Spirit continues working within the Charismatic Renewal in the Leeds Diocese.

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