Photos by Alan M. Dumoff, more photos, ccdphotolibrary.smugmug.com
The Camden Diocese’s 25th annual Charismatic Conference took place from Oct. 11-13 in Atlantic City, bringing together faithful of all ages for praise, worship and evangelization.
This year’s theme, displayed on a banner across the stage, is from the first epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians: “Every Act Should Be Done With Love” (1 Cor 16:14).
“St. Paul’s counsel is as valid for us as it was for his beloved faithful in Corinth and is as challenging to observe,” Bishop Dennis Sullivan wrote in a letter to conference participants. “Charity is always the goal for us Christians in what we do and say. However, without the grace of the Holy Spirit in us, active and alive, that goal can be very difficult to achieve.”
Conference speakers inspiring the attendees included Father Yvans Jazon, administrator of St. Monica Church in Atlantic City; Father Pio Mandato, a Franciscan priest living as a hermit in the Diocese of Scranton, Pa.; Sister Theresa May, founder of the Capuchin Sisters of Nazareth; and Kathleen McCarthy, a Catholic radio broadcaster in Philadelphia.
Also renewing the spirits of all in attendance were musicians Martin Doman, a Catholic praise and worship musician for over 20 years; George Misulia, one of the conference’s original music ministers; Donna Lee, who focuses on pro-life, reconciliation, the Eucharist, and Divine Mercy; CatholicFX, a high-energy rock worship band; and Paging Samuel, a praise and worship group out of Pennsylvania.
The mood was upbeat and celebratory throughout the weekend, with attendees joyfully joining in songs with titles like “The Happy Song,” “Trading My Sorrows,” “Shine Jesus Shine” and “Singing Hallelujah.”
As in years past, there were workshops for adults, senior high youth, and junior high youth.
The master of ceremonies for the weekend was Father Ariel Hernandez, pastor of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Newfield and Vicar of the Spanish Apostolate for the diocese.
Estimating that there were about 1,200 people renewed in the spirit during the weekend, Father Hernandez called the conference “amazing and beautiful.”
“God is calling us to be one, to trust in him and his power, and be united as a church and community,” he said, adding that we must “allow him to lead us in a path of discipleship and holiness, so we can be signs of unity, and bring others to the church.”
In allowing God to enter our hearts, he said, we can “work as leaders, and help others enter into a deep and strong relationship with Jesus and the Blessed Mother, which is the only way to achieve the salvation that God wants for us.”
The weekend conference, while consistently upbeat, also made room for some sad notes, notably the absence of two longtime leaders of the movement.
Walter Miller, who was involved in the conference through its 25 year history, died March 27 at the age of 93. A member of the steering committee, he was involved in the planning, the music, and the conference set up and breakdown, and other aspects of organizing the annual gatherings.
A second loss was that of Deacon Joseph A. Costello of Wildwood Crest, who died Jan. 7.
“We are grateful that he went around to all the area motels and asked them to stay open for our Charismatic Conference the second weekend in October,” the weekend’s program noted. “In faith he told them he would be able to fill the rooms.”
Deacon Costello also served as prayer group leader and conference treasurer and chairperson.
Plans are already underway for the 26th annual charismatic conference. It will be held Oct. 10-14, 2014.
For more information about the Camden Diocese Charismatic Renewal, go to www.camdencharismatic.org