Dan Almeter's face is visible behind the woman in blue. Courtesy of Catholic News Service.
Dan Almeter's face is visible behind the woman in blue. Courtesy of the Catholic News Service.

Augusta local attends 50th anniversary of Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Originally Appeared in : 9716-8/3/17

As he stood on the stage with Pope Francis at the vigil of Pentecost in June, Dan Almeter gazed out over 50,000 people gathered in the Circus Maximus in Rome. The occasion was the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Golden Jubilee, and it was a signature moment for Almeter, an elder of the Alleluia Community in Augusta, a charismatic covenant community (see sidebar in gallery).


“Three previous popes – Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict – have all strongly affirmed the charismatic renewal and its place in the Church. But this conference was a five-day jubilee celebrating the current of grace called the baptism of the Holy Spirit,” Almeter said later in an interview. “Pope Francis affirmed that this grace being poured out through the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement was initiated by the Holy Spirit outside the boundaries of the Catholic Church and that this grace was ecumenical in its DNA. And it is a grace meant to unite all Christians.”


It was for his role in ecumenism, and that of the Alleluia Community in Augusta, that Almeter and another Alleluia leader, Bob Garrett, an Evangelical, were among those chosen to be onstage with Pope Francis. Indeed, the pope underscored the ecumenical nature of the renewal himself.


“It was born ecumenical!” the pope said at the vigil. “It was born ecumenical because it is the Holy Spirit that creates unity and the same Holy Spirit that gave the inspiration for it to be thus!”


Since a group of Catholics experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in 1967, the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church has been ecumenical, although Almeter said that has waned in recent years.


“Pope Francis renewed that vision,” he said.


Alleluia sees ecumenism as part of its mission. In July 2016 it was host of the annual Kairos Conference, a gathering of international leaders dedicated to Christian unity. It was the first time the conference had been held outside Italy. Next year Alleluia will host the annual conference of the Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships,  which has a membership of about 120 communities worldwide and is recognized by the Vatican. The Fraternity conference is being held somewhere other than Rome or Assisi for the first time in more than a dozen years, Almeter said.


As the leader of the Fraternity’s English-speaking communities in North America, Almeter spoke at Saint John Lateran to all the covenant communities represented at the Rome conference, which was for him another highlight.  Communities from the Sword of the Spirit, another international association, and the European Network of Communities were also present. 


He is writing a book on unity which he hopes to have published soon.


Almeter says the English-speaking renewal has been waning in North America, although it is growing in ethnic groups. He believes the Rome conference could bring a revitalization.


“My hope,” he saId, “is that this jubilee will spark ‘a renewal of the renewal.'"


Bill Norton is a freelance journalist, and member of Saint Joseph Church, Augusta.    

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