The power to proclaim: Keynote speaker reflects on Holy Spirit in evangelization - (2023)

The power to proclaim: Keynote speaker reflects on Holy Spirit in evangelization - (1)

Mary Healy, who has a doctorate in Sacred Theology, wants the faithful to soak everyday encounters in the scent of the Holy Spirit and share the fragrance with those around them.

“It’s not first and foremost about words,” Healy said as she addressed more than 1,500 people gathered in Minneapolis May 20 for the Activated Disciple Seminar.“It’s not first and foremost about having the right credentials, or the right catechetical or theological preparation. It’s first and foremost … about being filled with the Holy Spirit and before you even give some explanation of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit will overflow and people around you will sense the fragrance of Christ, will sense the Holy Spirit.”

Healy was the keynote speaker for the seminar, which drew members of parish-based Synod Evangelization Teams from across the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and included Mass, talks, testimony, and prayer and adoration.

It was Healy’s sixth time participating in the seminar during the past three years. She said her preparation for her keynote talks included prayer. “I asked the Lord, ‘What is your word? Give me the word on your heart, Lord.’”

She also reflected on Archbishop Bernard Hebda’s post-synodal pastoral letter, “You Will Be My Witnesses.” The letter outlines Archdiocesan Synod implementation, and it is what brought Synod Evangelization Team members to the May 20 seminar.

The letter speaks of the Holy Spirit’s purpose, Healy said. “I was so moved by the (pastoral) letter; it is so powerful.”

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The power to proclaim: Keynote speaker reflects on Holy Spirit in evangelization - (2)

Jeff Cavins — speaker, author and director emeritus of The St. Paul Seminary’s Archbishop Flynn Catechetical Institute in St. Paul, which offers the Activated Disciple Seminar through its seven-week formation programs School of Discipleship and subsequent 40-Day Challenge — introduced Healy as a person “in love with Jesus … in love with the Holy Spirit.” A professor of sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Healy is an international speaker on Scripture, evangelization, healing and the spiritual life. She is a general editor of the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series and is author of two of its volumes.

Healy also is chair of the Theological Commission of Charismatic Renewal International Service (CHARIS) in Rome, and a member of the Pentecostal-Catholic International Dialogue, serving the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In 2014, Pope Francis appointed Healy as one of the first of three women to serve on the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

A tailored anointing of the Holy Spirit

Addressing the gathering during the first of her two keynote talks — “The Holy Spirit in the Life of a Disciple” — Healy demonstrated the important movement of the Holy Spirit in the mission of Mary, the Apostles and the disciples. Two effects, she said, were “they can’t keep Christ to themselves” and their joy overflowed.

The examples of biblical figures receiving the Holy Spirit are models for modern Catholics, Healy said.

“When we pray for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and we are giving our unqualified yes to Jesus, and we are inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives … Christ will be present within us in a deeper way … and we will be newly empowered and impelled to share him with others,” she said.

After the talk, Erica Skeate, 22, of St. Patrick in Oak Grove, said the giving of an “unqualified yes” was a message that struck her.

“I have a newfound love for the Magnificat, Mary’s yes and the fiat,” Skeate said. Mary’s example encouraged her to foster “that desire to say yes to God more so that others can know him.”

Healy said it’s important to remember that “Every one of us has a particular anointing of the Holy Spirit that is exactly tailored to the place where the Lord has placed you — your parish, your family, your workplace, your circle of acquaintances … Because you have a mission to bring the presence of the kingdom to places where it is not yet.”

That mission is bringing light to darkness and confusion; truth to deception; healing to physical, emotional and spiritual brokenness. Doing this, Healy said, requires more than goodwill, catechetical training, teamwork or good planning; “You need the anointing of the same Spirit who anointed him (Jesus).”

Healy encouraged the crowd to stay submerged in the Holy Spirit. She said a tendency can be to say, “been there, done that” having already received the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, “but there’s always more.”

Referencing an ancient document from before Christ’s time — a recipe for making pickles that uses the word baptize — Healy asked the crowd, smiling, “Do you want to taste like the Holy Spirit? So, you have to be plunged into him and stay there and get pickled in the Holy Spirit.”

Going forth with ‘a holy boldness’

The Holy Spirit introduces an intimacy with God the Father and an experience of God’s love outpoured; the Holy Spirit also reveals the lordship of Jesus, Healy said as she opened her second talk during the Activated Disciple Seminar — “Clothed with Power from on High.”

“When you know, in the core of your being, that Jesus truly is lord over all things, then you can’t be dominated by anything else anymore,” Healy said. In fact, Healy said, St. Paul’s biblical texts highlight what happens to the Apostles when the Holy Spirit arrives: “fear leaves, anxiety goes out the window; there’s a holy boldness that comes upon them.”

Healy said the Apostles are like new wineskins filled with the wine of the Holy Spirit and they go out from the Upper Room to proclaim the Gospel, witnessing conversion but also facing opposition and persecution along the way. She said this should prompt Catholics to reflect on the cost of missionary discipleship.

“Sometimes it can be the highest possible cost. Today is a day to decide now: Am I willing to pay the cost? … We can make that decision today: I am in, no matter what the cost. I know I’m weak, I know I’d probably cave if it were up to just me, but I’m trusting in him, and I give him my yes now.”

Using language favored by St. Ambrose, Healy said, “The sober intoxication of the Spirit makes you understand what you couldn’t have understood before and do things you could not have done before.”

Healy said a person need not be a priest, a scholar, a saint or even an adult for God to work miracles through him or her.

“Just come to him with a simple faith and prayers of a child and be willing to boldly proclaim the good news and to step out in faith that God will stand by it with his power and see what the Lord will do.”

Thirty-year-old Amee Heigl, of St. Patrick in Oak Grove, said she is eager to see how the Lord will work in her life. “I’m just so excited about this fresh outpouring of the Spirit to just do the work that God has set before me and us (gathered at the event).”

‘Here I am’

Healy said her hope for those attending the seminar would be that “every heart is set on fire,” that it marks “a new season for everyone here.”

“The Church is on the cusp of something great,” she said, a sentiment she reiterated in at the beginning of her first keynote talk and at the end of her second.

“As I’ve seen what the archbishop has been leading all of you into,” Healy said, addressing the crowd, “I really believe that you are on the cusp of maybe the most fruitful era of missionary dynamism that this archdiocese has ever seen.” She later said, “I am so excited to see what the Lord is doing in your midst. I hope I’ll be back here many times and each time I come, I’ll say ‘Wow! What he is doing now.’”

Closing her second talk with a prayer, Healy invited all present to “give our unqualified yes to Jesus, to write him a blank check. To say, like Mary, ‘Hineni.’ ‘Here I am, Lord. I’m ready. Whatever you say, even if it’s totally new, outside the box. Here I am.’”

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