Spiritual Renewal Services
Norwich, CT
About Us
HISTORY:
      The Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the United States started as a gradual grass roots movement. In the 1960's devout Catholics throughout the country gathered in prayer groups to praise God, to support each other in spiritual fellowship and to develop a personal, individual commitment to our Lord, Jesus Christ. However, one specific event is seen as the beginning of the Renewal in the United States. This occurred in 1967, when a group of students and professors at Duquesne University in Pennsylvania, got together for a weekend retreat. Members of the group were baptized in the Holy Spirit. A charismatic prayer group was formed as a follow-up to the retreat. Encouragement for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal came in 1969 when the Catholic Bishops of America first examined the Renewal. The Bishops' Committee on Doctrine wrote in their report: "Theologically, the movement has legitimate reasons for existence. It has strong Biblical basis. It would be difficult to inhibit the working of the Spirit which manifested itself so abundantly in the early church..." And in a statement issued by the United States Catholic Bishops in January, 1975: "To the members of the renewal, then to the pastors and to all the faithful of Christ, we commend the words of Scripture we take as our own guiding light: "Do not stifle the Spirit. Do not despise prophesies. Test everything; retain what is good. Avoid semblance of evil' 1Thes. 5: 19-22." 

HISTORY OF THE RENEWAL IN THE DIOCESE OF NORWICH:
      Bishop Reilly addressed a meeting of Diocesan priests in August 1975 and requested help with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. After this meeting, Father Ray Introvigne offered his assistance to the bishop. In 1976, Bishop Reilly appointed Father Ray as a liaison for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Father Ray attended his first meeting with the Committee of American Bishops in Steubenville, Ohio in 1976. In November of 1976, the Pastor of St. Sebastian Church in Middletown, Ct., where Father Ray was Assistant Pastor, suggested that Father Ray conduct a parish mission. About 500 people attended the mission. It was out of this mission that the Charismatic prayer group at St. Sebastian Parish was formed. It began with 100 people and eventually grew to 300. Fr. Ray's missions had begun and would continue over the next 25 years. The diocese of Norwich was now represented in the Charismatic movement. On November 10, 1977, Bishop Daniel P. Reilly officially announced the appointment of Fr. Raymond Introvigne as full-time Director of the Charismatic Renewal in the Norwich Diocese. Father Ray has maintained his devotion and responsibility to the Charismatic Renewal for many years. In these years he has seen much progress. On January 4, 1978, the Renewal Center was opened. It would become the working center of the Ministry. The Spiritual Renewal Ministry has been largely self-supported through monetary donations, especially from prayer groups, and from grateful people who participated in the many programs offered by the Renewal.
      In 1978, Judith Hughes joined Father Ray as a volunteer at the Renewal Center. Initially, Judith spent one day a week at the Center. It was not long before she became a full-time volunteer. Judith brought her past experience as a school secretary to the job as a volunteer secretary for the Renewal. In 1984, it was decided that the position of secretary be a paid position with the salary provided by funds donated to the Ministry.
      In 1985, Bishop Reilly appointed Father Ray as Pastor of St. John's Church in Old Saybrook. Father Ray also remained Director of Spiritual Renewal. To help Father Ray successfully accomplish both responsibilities, Bishop Rielly appointed Judith as the Associate Director of Spiritual Renewal. Additional responsibilities for Judith included coordinating the Renewal Center, editing of the Holy Spirit Digest, teaching healing and scripture courses, and program coordination. In 1993, she began conducting parish missions with Father Ray. Life in the Spirit Seminars were also added to her responsibilities, as well as retreats and days of renewal. Under Father Ray and Judith, the Spiritual Renewal Services has grown physically and in mission. The Center began in a location over the soup kitchen on Main Street. It remained there for 22 years. Bishop Hart recommended the Center move from these crowded quarters to the old Catholic Charities Building on Bath Street, where it is presently located. The mission statement changed with more encompassing services provided by the Center. The name change to Spiritual Renewal Services reflected the group's commitment to Spiritual life development throughout the diocese through it's missions, retreats, seminars and scripture studies.
      An advisory board was formed in 1979. Called a Prayer and Discernment Board, this group provides assistance in direction and meets for prayer and discernment once a month. Also in 1979, an Intercessory Prayer Board was formed to provide prayer for the individual needs of people recommended, and prayer for the Renewal as a whole. In 1979, the Scripture Study Board was formed providing scripture study based on the Little Rock Scripture Study. A Healing Board was formed in 1985. This board provided training for people to pray with those requesting prayer. A Healing Team of the Diocese of Seattle, WA provided the format and teaching. The prison ministry was begun from a request by Mr. George Wezner. He invited Father Ray and Judith to visit the eleven prisons in the diocese to provide Catholic programs. They began by developing Life in the Spirit seminars tailored to prisoners. A team was developed and each year they present ten seminars in the prisons. A Life in the Spirit Board was formed to accommodate the many requests from parishes for Life in the Spirit Seminars. Over the years, hundreds of people have been involved in the presentation of seminars in the diocese.

MISSION
     As the Spiritual Renewal Services of the Diocese of Norwich looks forward to the future, we reaffirm our Mission Statement formulated in 1978. To reach out to all people in an effort to help them:
 1. Develop a new awareness of Jesus Christ through Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which enhances and supports spiritual growth.
 2. Experience a personal deeper relationship with Jesus.
 3. Recommit their lives to serving the Lord and His Church.
 4. Interact with the Renewal's leaders, core groups and prayer groups through training, teaching and support.


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