Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Life In The Spirit - Fr. Tom Forrest

Week 6 Has a Surprise

Last week, as I reported, I accompanied my friends to Ridgetown for the Move That Bus week of their Life in the Spirit Seminar. We prayed over people, and had a great time, as I wrote. You can read about it here. I also wrote about what happened to me as I pondered what happened to them. So, last night we returned to the scene of the crime, as it were, for Follow Up night.

Wayne and Barb had plans for how the night would go, and that sorta happened, but something else happened. Father Sam Johnson, the retired 80 year old priest surprised us all a bit by showing a video first. But, it was worth it.

It was a lengthy video compared to the one that I am linking here, about Father Tom Forrest. Here is a bit about Father Forrest:
Fr. Tom Forrest, a Redemptorist Priest, was ordained in New York in 1954 by Cardinal Spellman. For the first 23 years of his priesthood, he worked among the poor of the Caribbean. In 1971, he became involved in the Charismatic Renewal and in 1978 was elected director of the International Office for Catholic Charismatic Renewal. He served in this capacity for six years,first with Cardinal Suenens in Brussels and then in Rome.

He has traveled to and spoken in more than 104 different countries, and his articles and books have been translated into a number of languages. He has spoken with Pope John Paul II many times and on eight different occaisions was invited to meals with the Holy Father. He has organized two Worldwide Retreat for Priests, one in 1984 in the theme "A Call to Holiness" and the other in 1990 on the theme "Called to Evangelize." A total of 11,000 priests attended the retreats, both taking place in the Papal Audience Hall.

For a year he worked at the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, collaborating to promote annual events to foster priestly renewal. At present, Fr. Forrest is International Director of EVANGELIZATION 2000, a Catholic effort to promote Church renewal through prayer, proclamation of the Word, and the formation of a more evanglistically activated people of God. He now resides in Washington, DC.
As you can see, Father Forrest is no spring chicken. He is an engaging and humorous speaker. He tells the story in the video we saw, and in the abridged version I have linked above and here again, because I think it is important to view, of his own personal Pentecost.

Then, the evening progressed with Praise music followed by some teaching from Barb and Wayne Zimmer, about what to do with this new found peace and love that was inside our friends, how to keep it alive and how to share it appropriately.

A number of the participants shared what had transpired for them in the past week, mainly how God had spoken to their hearts, not so much in direct words, but in peace and love for themselves and the other in their lives. This was a very calm, peaceful group of dedicated Christians, on fire for their faith, frankly in ways that only those with the level of life and spiritual maturity that they brought in the beginning, could likely be.

I thought they might have been a little more excited than they were, but that was really my experience with younger people, myself included, over the years, after a Life in the Spirit experience. But, what I was mistaking for lack of enthusiasm was really the maturity of their years, and it too was delightful. What do you expect from people who's love for and commitment to Jesus includes sitting quietly in His presence before the Blessed Sacrament for 30 minutes before each seminar evening, and any other Monday night they can make it? I consider myself chastened, in that I had ideas of what would happen, while God has PLANS for all their lives. Sure is a good thing that there is a God. Sure is a better thing that it ain't' me.

As we were driving home, I said to my friend Wayne that it was too bad that they did not have a charismatic prayer group to join, thinking of our earlier days. Then, it dawned on me that they were a community of believers with a fine parish, a beloved priest in Father Sam, and regular weekly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I said to Wayne: "You know, they're going to be just fine." God agreed. At least He didn't hit me over the head again for being a moron, and saying dumb things.

Before we left, I spoke with Father Sam about a project that he wants to do on the Internet, and we plan to get together soon in Ridgetown, just one on one. He is a very holy man, and a blessing to these folks, and I will look forward to spending some time with him at his home there soon.

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