by DIANA INGLE and HELEN SMITHSON
On the weekend of November 20, national leaders from communities and groups with a Catholic, charismatic spirituality, plus the leader from each Current of Grace diocesan service team, met at the beautiful Replenish Retreat and Respite Centre on the outskirts of Rangiora, for the inaugural gathering of Charis NZ National Service of Communion.
Charis — Catholic charismatic renewal international service — was initiated by Pope Francis and inaugurated by him at Pentecost, 2019, in Rome. He brought Charis into the heart of the Catholic Church by making it a public juridic person in canon law, operating under the Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life.
Current of Grace diocesan service teams (COGS) flow from Charis. Individual groups have representation, but maintain their own unique mission and vision, whilst uniting at a leadership level for support, and to network for the good
of the whole Church.
Pope Francis stated his expectation of Charis, at the Pentecost inaugural gathering as, “. . . baptism in the Holy Spirit, unity in the body of Christ and service to the poor — are the forms of witness that, by virtue of baptism, all of us are called to give for the evangelisation of the world . . . members of the Charismatic Renewal, as a current of the grace of the Holy Spirit, be witnesses of this love!”
At Rangiora, Mass was celebrated each day by Fr Jack O’Connor, and many local parishioners accepted the invitation to be at a praise and worship rally on the Saturday night, with musicians from Jesus Youth. Prayer ministry was offered, followed by supper.
Diana Ingle stood down from her role of chairperson of the transition Charis NZ Service of Communion, formed in 2019, previously having been the leader of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
Much has been achieved under her leadership: a very significant 50-year celebration of CCR, the “Current of Grace Conference” took place in Palmerston North in 2017. In December 2019, an Asia/Oceania Youth Leadership Summit in Auckland took place, and a retreat for priests was held in January, 2020, in Dunedin, and NZ Charis statutes have been prepared, based on the international statues. Her team has succeeded in engaging many leaders to be part of this wonderful service initiative, which is of benefit to the whole Church: Light of Christ, Lamb of God communities, Jesus for Real, ICPE, KPF, Dove, Joshua, CRANZ, Replenish, Jesus Youth and Come to the River Ministries were all represented at this year’s collaborative gathering.
Helen Smithson, chairperson of Current of Grace Hamilton Diocese, accepted the role of Charis NZ chairperson, with Diana Ingle as vicechair.
Charis NZ and Current of Grace are looking forward to serving the Holy Spirit within the Church in these exciting days, especially as parish renewal, mission and evangelisation are currently forefront in our Church.