Charismatic Mass marks 40th anniversary

In September 1983, at the Sunday evening Mass at St Christopher’s Cathedral, parishioners were invited to come forward for prayer after the homily.

“Rather timidly, I suggested that maybe someone or other might like to come forward for prayer, thinking probably no one would respond,” Fr Ken Barker said.

“To my everlasting surprise, three quarters of the congregation catapulted out to the front.”

This Sunday marks 40 years since the Charismatic Mass began in Canberra.

Fr Ken said since that first Mass, the joy-filled celebration quickly became popular.

“It opened up to a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

“It was very surprising and amazing for me to experience people being so enthusiastic for liturgical worship. The Cathedral would fill up from the front seats first since everyone wanted to participate as fully as possible.”

Fr Ken said parishioners were engaged in responses, singing, worship, and all the different roles in the liturgy.

“No-one was there as a spectator or as a passive recipient,” he said.

“I can truly say this Eucharistic renewal brought my own priestly ministry alive in the Spirit both in the proclamation of the word and also in the celebration of the Mass as a whole. What was most wonderful about it all was the simple reality that the Holy Spirit was releasing us all, both people and celebrants, in a new depth of worship and a fresh appreciation of the Eucharist as the heart of our Catholic faith and life.”

An early Charismatic Mass in Canberra.

Over the years, Fr Ken has seen people of all ages and stages find a fresh engagement in their Catholic life through the charismatic Mass.

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“Many had deep personal conversion experiences which brought healing to their lives,” he said.

“Thousands of people have found this Mass awaken their hearts to the love of God and change their lives to be more aligned to his ways. It has been a catalyst in the lives of many young people who found a new experience of a personal relationship with Jesus, and a new enthusiasm to witness of his love to others.”

Fr Ken said every Mass is fundamentally charismatic.

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of our life as Catholics,” he said.

“At the so-called “charismatic” Mass we simply seek to open up the worship in such a way that the graces of the Mass are received, and participants worship as fully as possible in spirit and in truth. Charismatic gifts are manifest while the liturgy itself is faithfully celebrated to the glory of God.”

  • St Benedict’s is hosting a high tea from 3pm on Sunday 22 October, followed by Charismatic Mass and sharing of memories and music.