Skip to main content

Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR), the largest Catholic renewal movement in the United States, was founded in February 1967 at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On February 17, two Duquesne theology professors, William G. Storey and Ralph W. Keifer, experienced baptism with the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues. Their decision to embrace the Pentecostal experience was shaped by contacts with the Pentecostal movement and Presbyterian and Episcopalian charismatics, and by reading the New Testament Book of Acts, David Wilkerson's book The Cross and the Switchblade (1963), and John Sherrill's book They Speak with Other Tongues (1964). From Duquesne, CCR quickly spread to Catholic student organizations at Notre Dame University, Michigan State University, and the University of Michigan. After this, CCR spread into mainstream American Catholicism.

The first nationwide Catholic charismatic conference took place at Notre Dame University on April 7–9, 1967. In the early 1970s CCR had attracted the support of national and international Catholic leaders such as Father Kilian McDonald and Belgian cardinal Leon Joseph Suenens. The growing popularity of CCR was due to New Convenant magazine, which in 1975 had more than 60,000 subscribers in approximately 90 countries around the world. By the mid-1980s CCR claimed more than 6,000 prayer groups throughout the United States. In 1987 more than 35,000 participants attended the CCR national conference in New Orleans. From the United States CCR spread to Latin America (1969), Mexico (1970), Puerto Rico (1971), Korea (1971), Italy (1971), France (1972), Germany (1972), and Ireland (1972). The Catholic charismatic movement can now be found in more than 108 countries throughout the world. In 1973, leaders from CCR and eight Latin American countries met in Bogotá, Colombia, where they established the Carismatico Católico Latino-Americano (CCL-A). The renewal has since expanded to every country in Latin America. Today there are more than 1.9 million Catholic charismatics throughout Latin America. The Spanish-speaking Catholic charismatic movement in the United States does not trace its roots back to CCR but rather originated with the ministry of Glenn and Marilynn Kramar. These former Assemblies of God missionaries to Colombia converted to Roman Catholicism in 1972 and in that same year founded Charisma in Missions in East Los Angeles.

CCR was born at a significant moment in the history of Catholicism. The Cursillo movement, Vatican II, the ecumenical movement, the Jesus movement, and the counterculture movement of the 1960s all created an openness to experiential religions such as Pentecostalism. Vatican II declared: "These charismatic gifts, whether they be the most outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation, for they are exceedingly suitable and useful for the needs of the church." This statement contributed to the decision of thousands of Catholic leaders and laypeople to embrace CCR. In light of this comment, in 1969 the U.S. Catholic hierarchy recommended that CCR be allowed to develop. CCR grew rapidly because of the thousands of charismatic prayer groups, conferences, and retreats; New Covenant magazine; the Southern California Renewal Center (SCRC); and the support of more than 400 charismatic priests and half a dozen bishops. CCR was also spread through the writings of Ralph Martin, Kilian McDonald, Kevin Ranaghan, F. A. Sullivan, and Edward O'Connor. Today there are more than 3.3 million active Catholic charismatics in the United States and Puerto Rico.

In 1973 the growth of the Catholic charismatic movement attracted the attention of Pope Paul VI, who asked Cardinal Suenens to serve as his international liaison with the movement. In 1975 Pope Paul addressed 10,000 Catholic charismatics at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, and in 1984 Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa spoke to more than 7,000 charismatic priests from around the world at the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal conference in Rome. CCR is growing rapidly throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Today there are 10 million active Catholic charismatics and 60 million postcharismatics (those no longer actively involved in charismatic gatherings) in more than 108 countries around the world.

Catholic Pentecostals began to call themselves Catholic charismatics after 1970 to distinguish themselves from the larger Protestant Pentecostal movement. Despite this change in name, CCR theology is very similar to that of classical Pentecostalism in its emphasis on baptism with the Holy Spirit, divine healing, spiritual renewal, a born-again experience with Jesus Christ, and enthusiastic worship services. Pentecostal leaders such as David du Plessis (Assemblies of God) have had an important influence on the movement. Catholic charismatics differ from Protestant Pentecostals in their belief that speaking in tongues is not the initial evidence of baptism with the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, they also stress the importance of Catholic tradition, sacramental theology, hierarchy, the Eucharist, and the Virgin Mary. Today the University of Notre Dame, the University of Steubenville in Ohio, and the SCRC serve as the three centers of CCR in the United States. CCR has spread not only through conferences and prayer groups but also through the ministries of charismatic Catholics such as John Bertolucci and Mother Angelica. Although the high-water mark of CCR in the United States was in the 1980s, CCR is still one of the largest and most active spiritual renewal movements in the Catholic Church today.

See alsoCharismatic Movement; Glossolalia; Liturgy and Worship; Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity; Roman Catholicism.


O'Connor, E. D., C.S.C. The PentecostalMovementin theCatholic Church. 1971.

Ranaghan, K., and D. Ranaghan. CatholicPentecostals. 1969.

Sullivan, F. A. Charisms andtheCharismaticRenewal. 1982.

Gastón Espinosa

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Catholic Charismatic Renewal." Contemporary American Religion. . 21 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Catholic Charismatic Renewal." Contemporary American Religion. . (January 21, 2019).

"Catholic Charismatic Renewal." Contemporary American Religion. . Retrieved January 21, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.