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Charismatic Catholics celebrate in East Anglia

People from across East Anglia gathered in Bury St Edmunds last weekend (June 2 and 3) for the annual Catholic Charismatic family weekend, Celebrate East Anglia. Keith Morris reports.

Staged at St Benedict's Catholic School, around 250 people enjoyed a lively programme of high-profile speakers, praise and worship, workshops and Mass, alongside a full youth programme for all different ages.

"See I am doing a new thing", Isaiah 43.19, was the theme for the weekend. New conference co-ordinator, Matt Spiller, who is lay chaplain at St Benedict's, explained what the event, which has run for the past six years, is all about.

"It is an opportunity to share Christ being fully alive in the church and is run locally by the Catholic charismatic renewal but open to speakers and delegates from other denominations.

"There is a family atmosphere, great talks and prayer times where people can meet God again and deepen their faith.

"My personal hope is for a renewed level of spirituality across the diocese and that people will experience a renewed faith and prayer life ' not that everyone will pray in the same way but that they will find a refreshment in their own experience and expression of faith," said Matt.

The first main speaker was Michelle Moran, a founder member of Sion Catholic Community for Evangelism and a widely travelled preacher, teacher, evangelist and author.

President of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, based in the Vatican, for the past ten years, Michelle was recently personally appointed by Pope Francis to work on establishing new structures for the service of Renewal and Mission in the Church.

Michelle addressed the paradox that our God who never changes is also always doing new things.

"The core essence of God is unchanging ' God is love and nothing can make him less that this," she said. "But at the same time it is this which makes him change and be dynamic because love grows and changes and we believe in the God who surprises us with his love. The never changing God is a God who is on the move and who makes all things new."

Workshops which delegates could enjoy included Anglican vicar Steve Burston, a former Met Police detective, Bury St Edmunds Vineyard church leaders Louise and Mark Williams, Celebrate founders Charles and Sue Whitehead and Christian mime artist Steve Murray.

A full programme of youth activities for children in all different age groups was run by the Ignite Youth Team and others on both days.

Mass on the Saturday was celebrated by Ignite Youth Team chaplain Fr Luke Goymour, concelebrated by Fr Alvan Ibeh. Fr Luke preached about prayer and explained how praying in tongues and infused contemplation were the purest forms of prayer as we do not let our own thoughts and words get in the way of communing with God.

See below or click here to see a full picture gallery of Celebrate East Anglia.

Next year's East Anglia conference is on June 1 and 2 and bookings are open on

Celebrate East Anglia June 18