Portuguese Charismatic Conference
to meet September 7-8 in Fall River

By Dave Jolivet
Anchor Editor

FALL RIVER, Mass. — When Father Henry S. Arruda, the diocesan director of the Portuguese Prayer and Charismatic Groups, was describing the Portuguese Charismatic Conference events in a recent Anchor interview, he mentioned how the people involved were so passionate about their faith.

“These people are so alive, not just in the movement, but in all aspects of their parishes,” he said. “It’s a powerful two-day event that we’ve been having for a long time in the diocese.”

This is the 40th year of the renewal movement in the Fall River Diocese, and the 51st nationwide. It will be held at Espirito Santo Parish on Friday night, September 7 and all day on Saturday, September 8.

“And an important element of the conference is the music,” he added. “It’s potent. You can’t have a renewal without music.

“The people sing to their heart’s content.” Referencing St. Augustine’s quote, “He who sings, prays twice,” Father Arruda told The Anchor, “These people pray more than twice, I think.”

The annual conference, which draws faithful from the area and a bit beyond, is well-attended.

“While this is sponsored by the diocesan Portuguese Charismatic Group, Father Arruda sends out invitations beyond the diocese,” said Debora Brum, a member of the group since its inception 40 years ago. “We get people from Connecticut, and other areas, including Bermuda.” 

“It’s a very Spiritual two days,” she told The Anchor. “It’s centered around God’s Word, and there is praise, intercessions, prayers for healing of the sick, and Mass.”

“The Diocesan Commission of the Portuguese Charismatic Renewal chose as the theme of this year’s conference: ‘The Renewal Begins with You,’” Father Maurice Gauvin, pastor of Espirito Santo Parish told The Anchor. “The theme reflects the fact that each person must have his or her soul open to the Holy Spirit for there to be change in one’s heart. The commission this year has asked local prayer group leaders to serve as presenters for the conference; this is departing from the tradition of bringing presenters from outside the area. This is one way in which we can experience the movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who will be speaking at the conference and share in their Spiritual journey.”

The conference, which is entirely in Portuguese, begins in the parish hall at 311 Alden Street in Fall River, at 6:30 p.m. on Friday evening, and the doors will open on Saturday at 8 a.m. The conference will conclude with a Mass in the hall at 4 p.m., celebrated by Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V.

“Last year was the golden jubilee of the Portuguese Charismatic Renewal nationwide,” said Father Arruda, “and we are echoing last year’s event this year.

“We will have three main talks. On Friday the talk will concentrate on ‘Conversion,’ picking up on last year’s theme. On Saturday the first talk will be on ‘Baptism in the Spirit,’ the very essence of the Charismatic Renewal. And the final talk will concenrate on ‘Evangelization.’”

Father Arruda told The Anchor that it was Brum who first invited him to become a part of the diocesan group in 1986, and he’s been a part ever since.

“I’m glad that I got involved with the movement and with these people,” he said. “I’ve really benefited from this as a priest and a person. These faithful are really very Church-oriented, and they are a great asset to their parishes. The Charismatic communities have members who are active in all ministries.”

For information about the conference, contact Espirito Santo Parish at 508-672-3352.

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