Fr. Dean Buttrick, diocesan liaison for the Charismatic Renewal, prays during the consecration. An extended time of silence was taken after communion; participants were invited to share any words the Spirit was giving them. (Catholic Herald photo by Jenny Snarski)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

As Mass-goers entered St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Phillips on June 9, they were welcomed by greeters with the words, “Happy birthday, Christian.”

Before the Mass, while the sacrament of Reconciliation was offered and St. Therese’s Youth Praise Band led worship songs, there was a lively yet recollected atmosphere. The reds, blues and yellows in the church’s stained glass windows brought attention to the semi-abstract image of the Holy Spirit and flames behind the altar.

Just prior to Mass, Mary Joan Sutton, committee chair for the diocese’s Charismatic Renewal CORE Team, spoke briefly about the charisms of the Holy Spirit, giving scriptural references and making note of three primary groupings: Gifts of grace include prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues; gifts of service, such as wisdom, knowledge and discernment; and gifts of works, which include faith, miracles and healing.

“Charismatic gifts are as important to the Church today as they were in apostolic times,” Sutton stated. “These gifts work to bring unity, to empower and to serve the Church’s needs.”

She affirmed the Spirit always gives witness to Jesus, and concluded, “The Mass today is the most perfect offering of Jesus to the Father, and our praise and worship will lead us to a greater appreciation in today’s liturgy.”

With more than 100 in attendance, Fr. Dean Buttrick was the celebrant, assisted by Dcn. Chett Ball, Dcn. Doug Sorenson and Dcn. Ron Bosi, who preached the homily. St. Therese’s pastor, Fr. Jerry Hagan, was present, as well as Fr. Showri Jojappa Pasala, Fr. Jojappa Madanu, Fr. Balaraju Policetty, Fr. Jerome D’Souza, Fr. Shaji Pazhukkathata, Fr. Ron Serrao and Fr. Papi Reddy Yeruva, all in red stoles.

As an introduction, Fr. Buttrick prayed that all might be touched in the way that the Holy Spirit wanted to touch them during the celebration.

Fr. Buttrick asked Dcn. Ron Bosi to preach the homily, after receiving Bishop James P. Powers’ regrets. Due to his flight schedule for attending the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ meeting in Baltimore, the bishop was not able to attend.

In a subsequent interview, the diocesan liaison told the Catholic Herald as he prayed, pondered and prepared for the homily himself, “The Lord gave me in prayer that Ron was supposed to do the homily.” After consulting with his prayer partner, who also felt the same “anointing” Fr. Buttrick described, he asked Bosi, who accepted.

He told the Catholic Herald that Bosi was the second man he ever asked to consider the permanent diaconate, a year or so after his assignment to Rhinelander; as a teenager, Bosi had spent some time discerning the priesthood.

Fr. Buttrick also offered a golf anecdote about the man who, relatively small in stature, delivered a convicted and power-packed sermon.

The priest struggled to get his words out between full-hearted laughs, “When we would play golf (Bosi was the golf pro at the Rhinelander course), he’d hit that ball like he was three times his size. With his stature, he could sure slam that ball.”
That spirit and strength was transmitted in the deacon’s preaching.

“Although we cannot see the Holy Spirit, we should be able to sense the work in our lives, changing us into the image of Christ,” he said.

He gave examples of having one’s breath taken away and described them as “wonderful, even unforgettable.”

Commenting on the Gospel, he said, “The risen Lord suddenly appears to his disciples, taking their breath away … but Jesus wants to do more than have his disciples stop and stare. He has a message for them, a task to entrust to them.

“As Jesus says, ‘receive the Holy Spirit,’ he breathes on his disciples, as a sign that through the Spirit, they will share in his life and continue his ministry of forgiveness. He had not come to take their breath away but to breathe new life into them, the life of the Holy Spirit.”

The deacon recounted how once they received the mighty wind and tongues of fire at Pentecost, the disciples did not stand in awe but went out; the enthusiasm of the Spirit prompted them to speak.

He described the current crisis in the Church as an energy crisis, echoing Pope Francis’ call for greater holiness in her members.

“And he is right,” Dcn. Bosi declared. “It takes energy to live a holy life.

“The ultimate explanation for this scandal is the squandering of uncreated energy of love that was first given to the Church at Pentecost. Whenever there is a crisis in the Church, we must pray. Pray for a new outpouring of the Spirit … and our history teaches that this is going to happen.”

He drew historic connections witnessing to this dynamic activity. Specifically, how after the Protestant Reformation, “There was a great renewal of Church life – the Council of Trent was held, reforms were made, new religious orders came into being. A renewed Church was born.”

The deacon issued an invitation to those present. “Our task is to be a source of empowerment for others. Ours is a mission of speaking God’s language, at work, among our colleagues, friends and neighbors … Of inspiring those who have become jaded and cynical, of animating those who have lost hope.”

He concluded, offering the hope that what the Spirit has done in the past, He will do once again.

A renewal for the Charismatic Renewal

Even though officially retired, Fr. Buttrick has been active in the role Bishop Powers asked him to take on as diocesan liaison for the Charismatic Renewal.

Attending the National Association of Diocesan Liaisons Convocation at the end of April, Fr. Buttrick received news of the Vatican’s new initiative, CHARIS, to serve the needs of and bring greater unity in diversity to the Charismatic Renewal globally.

Officially launched on Pentecost Sunday, CHARIS statutes emphasize the spread of baptism in the Holy Spirit, unity of Christians and service to the poor.

In a gathering on the eve of Pentecost, the Holy Father said, “This Pentecost begins a new stage on the journey inaugurated by the Charismatic Renewal 52 years ago.

“Today a new stage of this journey begins. A stage marked by communion between all the members of the charismatic family, in which the mighty presence of the Holy Spirit is manifested for the good of the entire Church.”

In Fr. Buttrick’s words, the efforts are “bringing a whole new avenue of approach for the charismatic work and activities in the universal Church.”

Fr. Buttrick shared something he heard at the liaison conference, “the Pope has said, the charismatic renewal is the spirituality of the Church.” He is still trying to find when and where the Pope said that for the direct quote, but added, “That’s a mouthful!”

Fr. Buttrick will attend another conference this November for national leaders and ministries of the Charismatic Renewal to continue learning how best to implement these guidelines and directives.

At the diocesan level, he has been pleased with increased interest and activity. He shared that some young adults attended the spring teaching conference in Cameron. He was not sure of how many local prayer groups have young people involved, but the number of prayer groups continues to grow.

Fr. Buttrick would like to see more families engaging with the Charismatic movement.

“Parents have a lot of spiritual power in their vocation, and this has not been stressed to them,” he said. “Parents have the power of blessing their family, and their children, of praying for safety and (spiritual) protection.”

The CORE team is organizing a fall conference, hoping to feature Jeff Cavins as the keynote speaker. Details will be made public as they become available.