Turns out, there’s a growing wave of them in Florida — which surprises quite a few non-Catholics:
Most of the 300 or so in the room ignored the folding chairs and stood, swaying side to side, hands lifted in praise.
They sang the lyrics projected onto a wall above them, “Holy Spirit, come with your fire.” Others prayed aloud their own petitions, many of them in tongues. A few cried, a few danced and one woman proclaimed a prophetic message, which brought a momentary hush to the room.
It looked like a typical Pentecostal meeting, but there were some unusual elements, like nuns in habits, worshipers crossing themselves and the scattered utterances of “Hail Mary.”
And if nothing else, the location was a dead give away that this wasn’t the usual charismatic gathering: St. Catherine Catholic Church in Orange Park.
Even some of those present admitted to surprise at finding Catholics – known for their formal liturgy – worshiping so expressively.
“The Holy Spirit works in crazy ways,” Georgia Gill, a Jacksonville surgeon who converted to Catholicism in 2007, said after a recent service. “I didn’t know this existed in the Catholic Church.”
Not only does it exist, but the Catholic charismatic renewal, as it’s known, is entrenched in Catholicism worldwide, experts say. The movement that began in 1968 has been largely embraced by the Vatican and its far-flung jurisdictions, including the Jacksonville-based Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine.
And waves of Hispanics accustomed to such spirited worship in their native lands have added to its ranks.
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