Aug 4, 2014 / 08:03 pm
As a steadily growing movement in the Catholic Church, the Charismatic Renewal includes an estimated 160 million of the world’s roughly 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
While many of the Charismatic Renewal’s members are scattered in individual parishes across the estimated 238 countries in which the movement exists, one group – formed in Brazil – is helping to bring them together.
Founded in July 1982, the Shalom Catholic Community celebrated its 30th anniversary just two months after being confirmed as a private international Catholic faith association by the Vatican in 2012. With over 110 Community Centers in 20 countries and 30,000 active members, Shalom is one of the world’s largest individual Charismatic Renewal movements.
And despite the movement’s impressive growth, its founders and leading community members say Shalom’s evangelization efforts are just getting started.
In 1980, at only 20 years-old, Moyses Azevedo received the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to represent youth from the Archdiocese of Fortaleza during Pope John Paul II’s visit to the city.
Invited by Cardinal Aloísio Lorscheider, then-Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Fortaleza, Azevedo was asked to give a gift to the Holy Father during the Offertory part of Mass – to be held in Fortaleza’s Estadio Castelao (Giant Castle Stadium).
Honored to be selected, Azevedo was surprised when told he’d be selecting the pontiff’s gift.
“(Cardinal Lorschieder) told me, ‘you’re the one that should choose,’” Azevedo said, in his native Portuguese.
“What can a 20-year-old kid give to the Pope?”
Advised just 10 days before the Pope’s visit on July 9, Azevedo wrote a letter to Pope John Paul II, dedicating his life to the evangelization of Catholic youth. Though there was no dialogue between the two, Azevedo says the encounter itself with the Holy Father inspired him to put his plan in action.
“I’m convinced that in that moment I received a special grace,” he said, “of how to evangelize youth that didn’t know about Christ or the Church.”
Exactly two years later, on July 9, 1982, Azevedo and friend Maria Emmir opened Shalom Catholic Evangelization Center in Fortaleza – a pizzeria where Catholic youth could seek spiritual advice, help and comfort. Just 22 at the time, Azevedo admits being surprised by the success of the first Evangelization Center’s opening night. …
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