“The Global Village, with its instant communication and global perspective for everyone everywhere, knows the division . . . How can it take any Christian body seriously?”
Fr. Francis Donnelly is a priest of the
Companions of the Cross, a “Pentecostal” Catholic community of priests in Ottawa, Canada. Brought up in Catholic Ireland and schooled near Protestant Belfast, his ecumenical conversion came with Vatican II, initially, and with 1971 Baptism in the Holy Spirit in Toronto
definitively – passionately – with the help of Full Gospel breakfasts and ministries and the writings of great spiritual masters who shared the wisdom and experience of our Catholic spiritual giants in a uniquely accessible way. Ordained priest for Montreal in 1979 he fulfilled a variety of pastoral ministries while directing charismatic renewal activities during 17 years. Teaching Church History, retreats, and missions came with the 1996 move to Companions in Ottawa where he represented the community in multi-denominational renewal activities for many years. Now back in Ottawa after 4 years on mission, he is associate pastor of a large parish and newly a board member of Unity in Christ.
The Unity Meetings:
Fr. Francis began an association with Matteo Calisi in Matteo’s Bari in January 1986 and in 1997 helped Matteo welcome a new anointing in Toronto that led to this present fruitful collaboration with Bruno Ierullo and Catch the Fire Ministries of Toronto. The Unity meetings in Toronto, 2011 and in Raleigh, 2012 impressed upon him the miracle of Matteo’s call and the Divine anointing on his work and teaching for Christian Unity. God has given him great favour with highly placed leaders of a wide spectrum of Christian confessions and made him very effective in furthering the new sovereign grace for Christian Unity that has been poured out on the Catholic Church these last 50 years in concert with the grace given in the other confessions. There is nothing more thrilling than to behold and share in the passionate devotion and Christian worship of great lovers of Christ who have given years of radical service to the Gospel with demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit. To share with such people is a privilege, an inspiration, and a necessity — as I dare say God grants graces in these fellowships that are unique to the move of unity.
The Message For These Times – – Unity:
The world is crying out for the New Evangelization embraced and proclaimed by the Catholic Church in recent papal exhortations, fully in line with the movements of revival at work in Evangelical – Pentecostal circles. The key dynamic is the enticing of persons into the shocking, converting, exhilarating encounter with the Risen, Living Christ Jesus who fills with His Holy Spirit.
John’s letter expresses it as “a communion with us . . . and our communion is one with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.” We can only impart what we ourselves possess – – a communion with Christ that makes for a communion with the members of Christ in Church. That communion is the command and the prayer of Jesus, John 13 to 17 – – that we be one, that we love, that we share the glory that is the life of Father and Son in the Holy Spirit.
Not only is this the privilege and imperative for the disciples, but it is also how the world is to know that we are his disciples – – “by your love for one another” (John 13.35). In the past it might have sufficed that the love and unity be confined within the divided bodies of denominational churches, themselves subdivided in many divisions besides. But even then how could Jesus be content with such a parody of the Divine Unity??? I believe that the pre-reformation Christian Church had brought judgement upon itself and so fell into multiple contending denominations. Poor God! He did the best He could with the dysfunctional “Christendom” being presented to Him. A blindness, as it were, was cast upon the divisions so that they could not recognize the Glory of God shining on the face of the others. They saw only “deviations” and “perversions” of doctrine and worship in one another.
Now in a favourable time God is removing the curse and judgment of blindness, and He is revealing the presence and power of His Holy Spirit in His faithful, devoted, obedient baptized members of every and any denomination. How can I not honor and love and fellowship with baptized believers who demonstrate just as much – and more – communion with Jesus and ministry of the Spirit as me?
Something else. The “new evangelization” in these times REQUIRES the demonstration of unity among Christians. The Global Village, with its instant communication and global perspective for everyone everywhere, knows the division, the false witness, the hypocrisy of evangelization to the one Christ by bodies of people who are manifestly NOT in communion within the one Christ they proclaim. How can it take any Christian body seriously? And if revivals are happening in spite of this in many quarters, how much more would happen if only the whole body of Christians could demonstrate some substantial unity and love in the face of a secularism that is massively united in the suppression of everything Christian?
So it seems to be the will and pleasure of the Triune God to restore a substantial Unity to all the baptized and to show the world once again “How those Christians love one another!”