Fr. Dean Buttrick, diocesan priest and liaison for the Charismatic Renewal in the Diocese of Superior, offers an opening prayer in the gymnasium at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School Sept. 26 for the Power and Purpose prayer ministry training. (Submitted photo)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

Thirty-four people participated in the Diocese of Superior’s Charismatic Renewal Fall Conference Sept. 26 at Our Lady of Sorrows in Ladysmith.

The gathering drew people from all corners of the diocese, including Shell Lake, Barron, Park Falls, River Falls, Superior, Chetek, Ladysmith, Medford, Rhinelander, New Richmond, Cameron, Hayward, Clam Lake and Rice Lake.

The theme of the prayer ministry training was “Power and Purpose: Encountering the Holy Spirit.” Organizers said the event was “very successful.”

Speakers Mary Hagar and Dcn. Michael Thoennes traveled from Minnesota to present the training. Together, they founded CORE (Catholic Outreach, Resources and Evangelization) Ministries in 2004.

Hagar has directed religious education and family formation programs in different dioceses and has taught both at the local and national levels. A long-time Charismatic Renewal leader, she has presented nationally in cooperation with Renewal Ministries.

Dcn. Thoennes was ordained in 2001 for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. He has served in multiple faith formation programs as well as acting as liaison for the Charismatic Renewal for the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota.

The chair for the Diocese of Superior’s Charismatic Renewal Committee, Mary Joan Sutton, commented, “Each participant answered the call by the Holy Spirit to be there. Each of us (was) coming from a prayer group in the diocese with the intention to improve our skills in prayer for and over others.”

Sutton was grateful to the Ladysmith Catholic community for their support of the event. Tables and chairs were set up in the gymnasium to provide for social distancing.

“The training was very basic, but we had several that had never prayed over anyone before, so that was appropriate,” she added.

With many in the group never having had formal training, Sutton said the recommendations and insights to good prayer ministry were very helpful. She thought their goal, “for the power of the Holy Spirit to come alive,” was achieved.

The time of commissioning was described by some participants as powerful, particularly beautiful and profound. Dcn. Thoennes stood behind each person and prayed over him or her.

“Many people made a commitment, and this surrender brought many to tears and to a deeper acceptance of the Holy Spirit,” Sutton attested.

“God is alive in the church,” one participant summarized. Another shared, “I felt the Spirit working in me and through others.”

More information about local prayer groups and diocesan-wide Charismatic happenings is available at