Posted March 18, 2015:
The Coming of the Crimson Dove

by Fr. James H. Duffy, as told to Shatzi Duffy.

In August 1968, when Fr. Duffy was prayed over for the release of the Holy Spirit at a prayer meeting at Combermere, he knew that something important had happened to him.

Shortly after that, one morning during his prayer time, he heard a voice in his heart say, "I want you to take the knowledge and experience of the Holy Spirit to many places and other countries in the days to come. I will be with you."

And so it happened, not through his instigation, but through his responding to the leading of the Spirit mainly through invitations.

It happened, first of all in Marian Centre Regina where he was assigned two months later in October 1968. There he led the first charismatic prayer meeting in western Canada and went on to help the Renewal grow throughout Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.

Then two years later in 1970, Fr. Duffy was assigned to Madonna House Carriacou, on a tiny island in the Caribbean. This article tells that story.

When I was transferred to Carriacou, Fr. Callahan, MH director general of priests at the time, gave me a strict admonition: "Do not say one single word about the movement of the Holy Spirit for at least one year."

I was actually relieved because I had no intention of doing anything except serve the needs of the house in Carriacou, a house whose work was already well-known throughout the West Indies.

But my relief was short-lived. That first year of getting acquainted with the people had hardly passed when I received my first request to "share about the Holy Spirit."

The superior of the St. Joseph Sisters in Grenada contacted me. She had sent a letter to the charismatic community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, requesting the name of a "charismatic priest" whom she could ask to come down to share with them about the Holy Spirit.

"You already have a priest on the island next to you who has the experience you are looking for," she was told.

So several weeks later, I led my first retreat for the St. Joseph of Cluny Sisters at their convent in St. George’s. At the end of that retreat, I prayed over about half of them, including the superior, for the release of the Holy Spirit.

This was the first of a series of requests from all over the Caribbean including the key islands of Trinidad, St. Lucia, Jamaica, and Barbados.

In Trinidad, Fr. Claude Montes de Oca, one of the first priests to hear about the Renewal, introduced me to Archbishop Anthony Pantin and asked the bishop’s permission for me to respond to requests to initiate prayer groups.

One of the first invitations came from a woman named Babsy Bleasdell. During that prayer meeting, her sister "Baby" became violently ill and left hurriedly.

I asked the group to pray for someone in their midst who was ill. Babsy then asked to be prayed over in proxy for her sister. Baby, who was by then at home, was healed instantaneously, and Babsy received a powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit.

In time, Babsy became an evangelist on four continents and one of the most powerful speakers in the Renewal.

The next request came from Bernard Vlaar OSB, the abbot of a well-known Benedictine monastery. Abbot Vlaar asked to be prayed over along with a number of his monks and several priests.

Until this time, most of the people of Trinidad did not understand the Renewal. I was sometimes referred to as the "voodoo priest," or a "Communist priest," or other unflattering names.

But once the Trinidadian people heard that Abbot Bernard had accepted the Renewal, their attitude changed and requests poured in.

A cloistered nun, Sister Rose Jackman, asked me to pray over her through the grill. Later, she left her cloister to co-found Living Waters Community with Rhonda Maingot.

Today (as of 2008) Living Waters is the largest and most influential community in the West Indies. Living Waters feeds the poor in downtown Port-of-Spain, has received three or four priest vocations, and has expanded into three of the Dutch islands and Barbados, where their apostolate includes a hospice for the dying.

This community continues to be a powerful, evangelizing force throughout the islands.

Signs of conversion and healing accompanied the growth of the Renewal in the West Indies. Here is just one story.

A sickly woman attended a prayer meeting with her personal nurse. During the meeting, she collapsed, and the nurse could find no pulse. At the same time, without knowing the woman’s condition, the leadership team began to pray for "someone who is deathly ill."

The prayer continued for five, ten, fifteen minutes. Still there was no pulse. Finally after twenty-five minutes, the woman’s pulse returned, and she revived.

Over the years, the Renewal in the Caribbean has fostered a vibrant, biblical faith in many ordinary Christians. The blind see again, and the lame walk… the deaf hear and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor… (Mtt.11:5).

The Bishops of the West Indies watched closely as the Charismatic Renewal spread like wild fire through the islands from its beginning in 1972 through the first Caribbean Charismatic Conference in 1976. That conference drew participants from twelve islands.

Several years later, at another conference, more than twenty islands and several South American countries including Surinam, sent delegations.

The bishops did not shrink from taking leadership roles. Bishop Tony Dixon of Barbados and St. Vincent asked for visits to his islands. Bishop Guilly of St. Lucia saw the Renewal spread through his island so quickly that within several years every parish on the island had a prayer group.

The leader in St. Lucia, Mrs. Therese Robinson, was particularly generous, making her personal property available for a Nazareth family apostolate.

Archbishop Pantin, who became the leader of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, once listed five characteristics which gave the Charismatic Renewal in the West Indies the stamp of the authentic work of the Holy Spirit.

He said: 1) It is Christ-centered. 2) It is deeply prayerful. 3) It promotes love and understanding of Holy Scripture.
4) It is unswervingly loyal to the Church. 5) It is actively involved in social problems.

Reflecting on its impact in Trinidad, he said the Renewal did a great deal to break down the racial prejudices which had impeded church unity. In fact, it has done more to bring together different ethnic groups than anything else has done. The Renewal, he said, has brought a whole new life to the Church.

International leaders of the Renewal say that two of the most effective Charismatic Renewal movements in the Church occurred in South America and the West Indies.

Members of the Catholic hierarchy and others generally concede that the initiation of the Charismatic Renewal movement had its origin and impetus from the Prayer of Pope John XXIII in the opening days of the Second Vatican Council:

"Renew your wonders in our time, as though for a new Pentecost, and grant that the Holy Church preserving unanimous and continuous prayer, together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, under the guidance of St. Peter, may increase the reign of the Divine Savior, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen."

Excerpted from Restoration, January 2008


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