Stop Fasting;
feast on banquet of life.
Laura Dodson
Florida Catholic correspondent, ORLANDO

With the powerful theme of Jesus knocking at the door, more than 600 participants at the Orlando Charismatic Conference Sept. 16-18 at the
Buena Vista Palace Hotel and Spa in Orlando invited the Holy Spirit into their hearts. “God is inviting us to His banquet of life, but an invitation
requires a response,” said Bishop Sam G. Jacobs, Bishop Emeritus Diocese Houma-Thibodaux in his opening presentation. “The feast is ready
and free. He bought it with his death and resurrection. He has given us the banquet free – stop fasting. We must R.S.V.P.”
Bishop Jacobs defined the R.S.V.P. of the spiritual life: R – is Repentance for sins; S – is to Seek the Lord by Serving others; V – represents the
Virtuous life of holiness and P – is to Praise God. “We must invite him into our hearts and must want and invite others to do the same,” he said.
“Come and receive – so you can go and give - so you can receive and give more. The Word must come into our hearts and take root. Do you want
to receive an out-pouring of the Spirit? Listen to the Word of God and act on it. Have communion with Jesus.”
Kim Rodriguez-Torres has been part of the charismatic renewal for more than 20 years and traveled from Coral Springs for this “family reunion.”
“Bishop Sam’s message really touched me,” Rodriguez-Torres said. “We need to listen so we can respond to what God is asking of  us. He showed
us how to receive not only that personal relationship with Jesus but to go out and share it.”
Conference presenter Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix Cantalice Sister Marilyn Minter self-described as “once a shy, timid woman”
proclaimed how she has acted upon the Word that transformed her. “I’ve been a sister for 40 years, but have never lived religious life as I do now,”
Sister Minter said. “I had never lived my prayer. I left everything to go to Haiti. I’m living with the poor now and being poor – it’s all about being in
relationship, being present to one another.” Leaving everything for Sister Minter meant leaving her position as associate director of youth and
young adult ministries for the Archdiocese of Newark, coworkers who were also friends, a comfortable office, nice car and all the conveniences of
life in America. “The Lord is asking me to love these children who are so poor,” Sister Minter explained. “How often does Jesus come into our lives?
Everyday! He just shows up – he shows up with rice and beans when there is nothing to feed our children.”
Sister Minter returned to Haiti immediately following the conference and in an interview with the Florida Catholic the following day described the
juxtaposition of the weekend, “I cruised from Orlando’s Disney World to the poverty of Port au Prince, but I brought back a container of diapers and
pedialyte for the children. The Lord commissioned 72 and each was the living Word and proclaimed the Word of God. We too have the power of
the Holy Spirit to become the person God created us to be. The seed is within us.”
Sister Minter also spoke to the Florida Catholic following Hurricane Matthew. Active in the charismatic renewal since 1988, Vince Maldonado, an
administrator of the Orlando Charismatic Renewal Services has witnessed the tremendous growth in conference participation.
“We’re warriors for Jesus and our goal is to bring more souls back to Jesus,” Maldonado said, “to either enkindle or re-enkindle the power of the
Holy Spirit which we received at baptism and confirmation and to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit as it says in Ephesians 6:18, ‘With all prayer and
supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.’ What better thing can we do?”
Judy Madia from Cape Coral said she is always touched by the conference praise and worship and described Adoration and the healing service as
“very powerful.”
“We are always in the presence of the Lord, of course,” Madia said,  “but seeing the Holy Spirit move so powerfully amongst others is the greatest
blessing for sure. I came 100% with the gift of surrendering my will and myself.” The 50th anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal in the United
States will be celebrated in February 2017. A group of college students from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh had been on a weekend retreat in
1967 when the Holy Spirit exploded into their lives in a very dramatic way. The passion and transformation of that weekend spread throughout the
country and the Diocese of Orlando offered its first conference in 1970. Bishop Jacobs has played a significant role in that renewal and in an
interview with tFC shared, “We must pray for a new Pentecost as we celebrate our 50th anniversary. Pray for a fresh anointing of the Spirit in a
fresh new way. We can go through our prayers, but that’s not going to change peoples’ lives. It’s in the witness of their lives and what God has
done that the new Pentecost is going to come. It’s happening in different ways already it’s just not recognized as the power of the Holy Spirit. For
example with our young people – the Steubenville conferences – with 50,000 high school students attending! I think God is going to pour out His
Spirit again and we are going to have a revival once people experience the love of the Father moving and are open to the Holy Spirit.”
Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Orlando