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‘Thy will be done’

Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Birmingham Holds Conference

The 21st Annual Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference, “Thy Will Be Done,” was truly a spiritual event. From beginning to end, the Holy Spirit’s presence was felt. The speakers’ talks were effective in spiritually motivating the attendees to do God’s will as our Blessed Mother did every day of her life. The event was held the weekend of July 29 and 30 at Our Lady of Sorrows Family Life Center in Homewood. The speakers were Andi Oney, Father Frankline Fomukong, and Jackie Smoke. Father Paul Asih celebrated Mass on Friday night, and the Saturday morning Mass was celebrated by Father James Hedderman with Fathers Asih, Frankline Fomukong, and  Stan Nwanunibi concelebrating. Both homilies were very thought-provoking and passionate.  The sacrament of reconciliation was offered both days. Describing the conference, one attendee said, “Of all the conferences I have attended, this one shone with a special radiance.  There was a seamlessness about the whole conference. The teachings were all terrific and anointed. The music ministry was outstanding - everything was near-perfect.”

On Friday night the keynote speaker was Andi Oney from New Orleans. She explained the importance of praise in our prayer life. God made us on purpose and with purpose. Each of us is unique and unrepeatable. God is always doing something new, so in all situations and circumstances, we should praise Him for the victory that will come. The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord always … .” (Philippians 4:4) Oney told participants that praise is a love song to the Lord. Also, praise is a weapon that scatters the enemies of God. Praise and worship were interspersed throughout the two days enhanced by the outstanding music provided by the Renna family.

The second speaker on Friday night was Father Frankline Fomukong, who discussed the practice of obedience and surrender. He witnessed how this means doing the will of God. In becoming a priest, he answered the call of God and follows the direction of his superiors without question.  For us, this requires strong faith to trust the Lord. Even Jesus said, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me; still, not My will but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

In her second presentation on Saturday, Oney shared that through her mother’s influence and her diligent study of scripture, she knew Jesus loved her and wanted her to be active for Him at a young age. Her new openness to the fire of the Holy Spirit, along with encouragement from renowned Dr. Mary Healy, manifested itself into solo speaking engagements. Currently, Oney is a Catholic evangelist with her husband, Deacon Larry Oney, through their Hope and Purpose Ministries. She said God uses each one of us to do His will with the power of the Holy Spirit. We must let go of our pride and not ask the Lord to bless our plans; rather, we should ask God what His plan is for us.

Oney continued, using numerous scriptural references. The Blessed Mother was sinless and baptized in the Holy Spirit at birth. She lived everyday of her life doing the will of God. At the
Annunciation, the angel Gabriel said to Mary, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28) Mary’s response was, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) At the Visitation, Mary sang her Canticle to Elizabeth, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” (Luke 1:46) Oney repeated that God loves each one of us and wants us to change, just as the seasons change.  One way this change can happen is through praising God. Praising God scatters His enemies and helps us become immersed in His holy will. God wants to use each one of us to proclaim His Word! If someone asks us for prayer, stop and pray with them at that moment wherever you might be, Oney instructed.
After lunch, Jackie Smoke gave an inspiring and passionate presentation on “Fear of the Lord.” This gift of the Holy Spirit, received by all at baptism and confirmation, does not mean we are afraid of the Lord, but it does mean we recognize the magnificence and awesomeness of God. She cautioned those present to take the focus off their flesh and to place their focus on God.  Smoke gave numerous personal experiences to help participants realize this involves removing their minds from the carnal and placing their minds on the spiritual. She also elaborated on steps to aid the faithful on their journey with the Lord, such as, praying in all forms and reading the Word of God. 

After Smoke’s presentation, participants chose one of two workshops. In the first workshop, attendees new to the Charismatic Renewal were divided into four groups. Experienced charismatic team members led the discussion in each group and answered questions. In the second workshop, moderated by Catholic author Jeff Anderson, panel speakers Beth Anderson, Dan Gardner and Kathy Tortorice discussed what was new in their response to God and how it addressed the fears and negativity of today. Examples given by the panel included: spending time with family more frequently, realizing prayer time changes as life and responsibilities change, practicing the corporal works of mercy, serving in ministries, and evangelizing at every opportunity. Father Frankline emphasized the importance of family and of the grandparent’s influence in the lives of their grandchildren.

In her last presentation, Oney cited the healings of the leper (Matthew 8:1-4,) a centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13), the woman with a hemorrhage (Matthew 9:20-22), and the blind man (Mark 10:51). She emphasized that Jesus is asking each of us, “What can I do for you?” Just as when Jesus asked Bartimaeus, we must never be too proud to beg. 

Father Eric Gami celebrated benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Standing in front of the altar, he held the monstrance while attendees came forward as in a communion line to personally adore the Lord, begging Him for healing and telling Him what was on their hearts.  Following this holy and heartfelt experience, the participants were able to go to prayer teams for individual healing prayer. This culmination gave each participant an opportunity to petition the Father with an expectation that He will hear us. A number of spiritual, mental, and physical healings were reported.

The best description of the conference came from an attendee’s email, “I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the many years of my life and this one ranks among the best. Andi’s and Jackie’s talks were so great, and then to be face to face with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in such a profound way was beyond words. What a tremendous blessing. My thanks to all who were part of this conference. May God bless you forever and ever.”

The conference was recorded and the recording can be purchased. Planning is already underway for next year’s conference. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal of the Diocese of Birmingham also gives free parish seminars on the Holy Spirit and how to use His gifts more fully, renewing our confirmation commitment. For more information, please visit