Celebrating the Spirit leads to change

Every year on the eve of Pentecost, hundreds of Spanish-speaking people in the Omaha area gather in prayer at a local church to invoke the Holy Spirit.

Members of charismatic prayer groups from several parishes, they come together in a tradition of communal Pentecost worship that in Omaha began about 15 years ago.

But the practice is ancient, modeled after the apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary praying together in the Upper Room before the first Pentecost.

This year’s vigil, at Holy Name Parish in Omaha, will begin at 6 p.m. June 3 and end about midnight. The event typically includes Mass, a meal, praying the rosary, speakers, praise and worship music and a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament. All family members are involved, with some separate activities and faith education for youths.

Last year’s Pentecost vigil at Assumption-Guadalupe Parish in Omaha drew about 400 people, said Father Carl Zoucha, pastor.

In addition to Assumption-Guadalupe and Holy Name, parishes with Hispanic charismatic prayer groups that are involved include St. Joseph, St. Peter and St. Francis of Assisi, also in Omaha.

The groups join forces for Pentecost and other events, such as last year’s archdiocesan Hispanic Congress, Father Zoucha said.

At the Pentecost vigil, worshippers pray to receive the Holy Spirit, which helps them "to live as disciples, to know who Jesus is and to have a relationship with the Lord," the pastor said. And when they share the gifts they receive from the Holy Spirit, "that helps a faith community grow."

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