The following comes from an April 13 Angelus article by Jennifer Wing Atencio:
By 4 a.m., thousands were lined up at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for what may soon be called the beginning of a new wave of spiritual renewal and reconciliation of the Body of Christ in the United States.
Protestant pastor Lou Engle of “The Call” led Azuza Now, a revival marking the 110th anniversary of the Pentecostal Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles.
Throughout the day, an estimated 90,000 Christians and church leaders from across the nation joined in praise, which began at 7 a.m. and ended at 10:30 p.m. April 9.
Shalom World Media was there to broadcast the event to the Catholic world, along with God TV and other Christian media channels. “It was the first time ever that a [mostly] Protestant-Christian event would be broadcasted on Catholic television,” remarked Mark McElrath of Orange County Catholics at Work, who emceed the broadcast along with Kevin Kast of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace of the L.A. Archdiocese.
Keith Major, founder of Major Change in Steubenville, Ohio, worked in tandem with McElrath to invite Southern California Catholic leaders to the anniversary revival, which included Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of the San Gabriel Region.
Major worked with Engle’s ministry, The Call, after serving for a decade on the mission field in Russia, Poland and Middle East, establishing communities in other countries with Vineyard. The Majors reverted to Catholic-Christianity in 2010 and Keith worked for the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Now, they hope to mobilize Catholics in collaborative efforts for ministry with Protestant-Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Charismatics. In December 2015, MajorChange joined Onething 2015 conference, organized by Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri and presented the first ever Catholic Ecumenical Track during their annual Onething Conference.
Standing on stage at noon with Father Ed Benioff of the archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Father Alexei Smith, director of the archdiocesan Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, this Charismatic-Evangelical-Catholic was given a most astounding view of the thousands in attendance and the behind-the-scenes, cross-denominational comradery.
The highlight of my day was when Father Ed grabbed Father Alexei to turn him around fast, 180 degrees, and raised his hands for him in blessing to the south (toward the Coliseum front gate) during a prayer for the nation, and then turned him right back around again 180 degrees, grabbing his shoulders to force him to sway and sing like a good charismatic.
Father Alexei, who is my former professor, a surfer, and an Eastern-rite, Russian Catholic pastor, turned to me and laughed whole-heartedly declaring “I like it, but it’s just not my usual style!” And this was just their warm-up.
The music quieted while the constantly boisterous crowd fell to a noticeable hush as the “men-in-black,” collared Catholic priests and their friends, who were incidentally wearing black, took center-stage. Standing with my right foot about one inch from the stage drop, I looked out on the crowd to see trepidation on faces and looks of curiosity, and even a noticeable pause of breath.
Matteo Calisi, former president of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, was introduced and began to address the crowd in Italian with Dr. Bruno Ierullo translating:
“We are a delegation, a Catholic delegation. … I come from Italy. And, I bring you a salute from 150 million Charismatic Catholics.” As the crowd cheered, Calisi then spoke to the crowd about the influence of the Asuza Street Revival on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
Following these remarks, he ceremoniously laid prostrate on the stage and kissed Lou Engle’s feet in an act of reconciliatory love. “We are just in a holy moment right here,” Engle emotionally cried out. Then he continued to call out the other church elders onto the stage while he fell to his knees reciprocally kissing Matteo’s feet.
“Jesus, I thank you!” cried out Calisi while Engle kneeled before his feet, “because you are breaking the spirit of division! You are preparing a great revival in the event of this call, like you did 100 years ago. Do it again! Do it again! Holy Spirit let your Spirit come again for a billion Catholics.”
Following his prayer, Engle introduced Father Ed Benioff:
“We have a brother here who is over the effort of evangelization in this archdiocese. I want you to stretch out your hands and pray for the evangelization — the mighty evangelization of the peoples of Los Angeles.”
Father Benioff came to center stage and kneeled while praying:
“Heavenly Father, you taught us through the words of St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians that the eye cannot say to the hand ‘I do not need you.’ Nor can the head say to the foot ‘I do not need you,’ but the truth is, we all need each other,” he said.
“And Lord, we know that you want to bring revival in our world and in our nation, but we will not have revival until we have reconciliation … and as Elijah prepared Elisha and Israel for revival, first, they had to be reconciled, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the sons and hearts of the sons to the fathers. So, Heavenly Father, it is my prayer that going forward from this historic day, we can all forgive each other. We have to forgive each other … so I say this to every person here with absolute sincerity and authenticity — I need you.”
Then Father Benioff paraphrased the words of Jesus in John 17:21, “Father, Abba, Daddy, let them be one as you and I are one.” He continued, “So let us pray and work for unity, so the witness of Christ will be most powerful in our troubled world.”
In the conclusion of his prayer he said, “Let us make a covenant to work together as a united family in Christ, so we can have love and reconciliation in our own, Christian family. Amen.”