In a report on Pentecostalism in RNA Extra (July/August), the newsletter of the Religious Newswriters Association, one priest forecasts a resurgence of the charismatic movement in American Catholicism.
Msgr. Vincent Walsh of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, Wynnewood, Pa., predicts that the next wave of the charismatic renewal among Catholics will be the Pentecostal “holy laughter” movement started in Toronto in 1994 (also referred to as the Toronto Blessing). Walsh is not a disinterested forecaster of this trend, since his parish in the Philadelphia suburbs has become the center for translating the Toronto Blessing to charismatic Catholics.
Charisma magazine (July) reports that Walsh and his parish see themselves as the next step beyond the charismatic renewal that sprouted up in mainline and Catholic churches in the 1970s. After experiencing a lull in his ministry and in the Catholic charismatic movement in general, Walsh came upon the ministry of Rodney Howard Brown, who was instrumental in introducing the Toronto Blessing and such manifestations as “holy laughter.”
Walsh and his parish were soon fully immersed in the holy laughter phenomenon, which they term a “revival.” The midweek prayer meeting grew from 50 to close to 1,000. But the ranks of charismatic Catholics are still divided over the Toronto blessing, with leaders taking a wait-and-see attitude toward it.
The Charisma article also notes that today the Catholic charismatic renewal finds its greatest strength among Korean, Hispanic, Haitian, Filipino, Vietnamese and Portuguese immigrants. Dramatic healings and deliverances from drug and alcohol addiction and family violence usually mark these immigrant charismatic meetings.
(RNA Extra, P.O. Box 2037, Westerville, OH 43086)