This new experience of God’s power, similar to that known by the Apostles themselves, spread rapidly through the Catholic Church under the title of “Charismatic Renewal”. It came to Wales in 1970 when Belmont Abbey monk Dom Alan Rees OSB returned from Rome with the message of Renewal. He organised the first day of renewal for South Wales and Hereford at Belmont Abbey. In North Wales, renewal percolated into Wrexham Diocese (then part of Menevia) from Lancashire. Small prayer groups began to spring up and grow. In 1976 Bishop Langton Fox of Menevia attended a charismatic conference in Birmingham and got hooked. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, many days of renewal were being held in Wales and the numbers of people attending increased rapidly.
Since the 1970s, teams serving charismatic renewal in Cardiff at the diocesan level have grown and ebbed in strength several times. The current team – the “DST” (Diocesan Service Team for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal) was called into being by the National Service Committee for Wales in July 2007, with Fr Gareth Leyshon taking the Chair. A key moment in the growth of the team occurred when the national committee invited the DSTs from Cardiff, Menevia and Wrexham to a shared retreat in Belmont Abbey in May 2009, led by Jesuit Fr Bob Faricy. Fr Faricy helped the team members present to understand what it meant to make a proper spiritual discernment. On this weekend, the Cardiff DST members discerned that God was calling us to two projects: a monthly Praise Mass, and a series of “Life in the Spirit Seminars”. We ran the first Praise Mass in June 2009, and about 60 people came following relatively little publicity! The first series of “Life in the Spirit Seminars” began in Pontypridd in January 2010, and again we were overwhelmed when 40 people turned up for the first session!
Currently the Praise Mass is travelling around the Archdiocese of Cardiff at various venues around the first week of each month. Our next series of “Life in the Spirit Seminars” is yet to be planned.
We are also pleased to acknowledge and recognise the work being done by other charismatic groups in our diocese – the Hereford Catholic Conference is now in its 7th year with associated ministries for young people and for men.
The St David's Cathedral Renewal Fellowship is based at St David’s Cathedral and publicises events through the Jesus4UsAll website.
The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is authentically Catholic. The Apostles – our first Bishops – experienced these charismatic gifts. Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have all spoken in favour of it:
Pope Paul VI: During the holy year of 1975, before ten thousand participants of the international Charismatic Conference assembled in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Pope Paul VI described this spiritual renewal as a “chance”, or “opportunity” for the Church.
Pope John Paul II: “Open yourselves with docility to the gifts of the Holy Spirit! Receive with gratitude and obedience the charisms that the Spirit does not cease to offer! Do not forget that all charisms are given for the common good, that is, for the benefit of the whole Church!” 1998
Pope Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Ratzinger): “...and the Charismatic Renewal ...I think this is a sign of the Springtime and of the presence of the Holy Spirit, today will give new charisms and so on. This is for me really a great hope that not with organization from authorities, but really it is the force of the Holy Spirit present in the people.”
The current DST Chair, Fr Gareth Leyshon, reported to Archbishop Peter Smith from time to time and operated as DST Chair with his full approval. We pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit on the Church authorities charged with discerning the next Archbishop of Cardiff.
Charismatic Renewal is not the only way of being Catholic, nor the only way of experiencing a deep connection with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. But over the last 40 years, hundreds of Catholics in Wales have found their lives transformed with a new confidence by discovering God’s personal love for them through this powerful touch of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps God is inviting you to experience this, too. We’d love to see you at one of our events. May God bless you richly.
Fr Gareth Leyshon, Ex-Chair of DST Cardiff, March 24th,2010.