by Joe Bollig
TOPEKA — Catholics and Pentecostals will hold a joint prayer meeting here on May 22, the vigil of Pentecost, to commemorate a historic outpouring of the Holy Spirit and to participate in an international, ecumenical event culminating in a livestream celebration with Pope Francis.
The Pentecost vigil celebration comes at the end of an ecumenical Pentecost novena to the Holy Spirit that began on May 13.
Both the novena and vigil are sponsored by CHARIS (the Charismatic Renewal International Service) through the Commission for Christian Unity.
Two hours of simultaneous prayer around the world will take place in Rome, Jerusalem, Buenos Aires and Topeka on May 22, said Lee Defendorf, a member of the Glory to God Covenant Community, a Catholic charismatic group that meets at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka.
The Topeka prayer meeting will be from 1-2 p.m., followed by a viewing of the international livestream of the 2-4 p.m. vigil with Pope Francis.
Topeka is one of the four designated cities for the international event because it has a special place in the hearts of both Pentecostal Christians and charismatic Catholics, said Defendorf.
Catholics and Pentecostals will hold the prayer meeting in the basement of 3601 S.W. 17th St., the recently vacated rectory of Most Pure Heart Parish. The former rectory is the site of a mansion nicknamed “Stone’s Folly.”
For a short time, Stone’s Folly housed Bethel Bible College, founded by the Rev. Charles Parham, a Holiness sect Methodist minister.
On Jan. 1, 1901, during a prayer meeting, Rev. Parham laid hands on the head of student Agnes Ozman and she was said to have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. This event marked the beginning of Pentecostalism.
Interestingly, at that same time, Pope Leo XIII sang “Veni Creator Spiritus” (“Come Holy Spirit”) in front of the Holy Spirit window in St. Peter’s Basilica, asking for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church.
Defendorf believes there is a connection between the event at Bethel Bible College and Pope Leo XIII, who in his May 9, 1887, encyclical “Divinum illud munus” (“On the Holy Spirit”) called for Christians to pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
People throughout the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas can participate in the event in two ways, according to Defendorf.
The first is to come to the site of the former rectory and join the prayer meeting. Since the small basement can only seat about 30 people, an overflow tent with video feed will be set up in the yard next to the building. No registration is required, but Defendorf requests that those who wish to participate contact him by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We can really change the world when the Holy Spirit is working,” said Defendorf.