CHARIS Malaysia holds first in-person meeting

Twenty-one leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movements from across Malaysia convened at Vianney Home for a half-day general meeting on October 25.

By Neil Mah

Twenty-one leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movements from across Malaysia convened at Vianney Home for a half-day general meeting on October 25. The gathering marked the first in-person meeting of CHARIS Malaysia since its formation three years ago.

Except for Sibu Diocese, all other arch/dioceses’ Service of Communion for the Charismatic Renewal were present and these form the CHARIS National Service of Communion.

The meeting commenced with a period of praise and worship, followed by a warm welcome from the outgoing Episcopal Advisor of CHARIS, Cardinal Sebastian Francis. His Eminence recalled following the formation of CHARIS International by Pope Francis in 2019 to unite the various expressions of the CCR into one body. CHARIS Malaysia was formed on August 10, 2020 during the start of the COVID19 pandemic.

The cardinal highlighted the importance of the CCR’s role as a service of communion, emphasising that the local Ordinary in each arch/ diocese primarily governs the CCR. During the meeting, each arch/ diocese presented a brief report on CCR programmes and activities conducted in the past three years, acknowledging the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many CCR groups have since resumed physical gatherings, and several parishes have reinstated Life and Growth in the Spirit Seminars, prayer, healing, deliverance sessions, and outreach programs. Ongoing formation sessions have been organised to strengthen the renewal groups following the pandemic-induced hiatus.

Cardinal Sebastian was heartened to listen to the various reports for these reflected the continuation of the mission of Christ handed primarily by the Father and Son to the Holy Spirit. His Eminence shared his words whispered to Pope Francis during the consistory creating new cardinals in Rome, “The Holy Spirit will never fail the Church”, and “the Holy Spirit will lead the Synod”.

He encouraged delegates to reflect on the Holy Spirit’s guidance in their renewal efforts and shared his insights into the Church in Asia, emphasising inclusivity, creativity, and bridge-building.

He then went on to share how the culture of coming together, listening to one another which were promoted in the Asian Church were employed as pastoral strategy at the just concluded 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality.

Cardinal Sebastian asked all delegates to ponder on the question “What is the prompting of the Holy Spirit to us in the renewal?” before sharing and expounding on Pope Francis imagery of the Synod “Enlarge the space of your tent” based on Isaiah 54:2.

The chairman of CHARIS Malaysia, Anthony Lim, elaborated on Pope Francis’ vision for CHARIS, which includes sharing the baptism of the Holy Spirit with all in the Church, working for Christian unity, and upholding human promotion for those most in need. He urged CCR leaders to be channels of the Holy Spirit, facilitating the baptism of the Holy Spirit without hindrance.

The meeting also featured an open dialogue session during which delegates shared practical suggestions to implement CHARIS’s visions and address challenges.

In the culmination of the gathering, new office bearers for CHARIS National Service of Communion for the term 2023/2026 were elected, with this executive committee set to serve for three years. Cardinal Francis expressed gratitude to the outgoing committee members for their dedication and introduced Archbishop John Wong from the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu as the new Episcopal Advisor elected from among the Malaysian bishops.

The archbishop expressed his appreciation for Cardinal Sebastian’s leadership and encouraged all delegates to infuse the Holy Spirit into their renewal ministry. The meeting concluded with blessings from both prelates for the newly elected executive team and all present.