Village Fires help disciples burn brighter

Father Pat Sullivan, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Shawnee, joins hands in prayer at a Village Fire gathering. More than 200 people — most, but not all, Catholic — gathered for a time of enthusiastic charismatic-style prayer and praise on July 10 at Holy Trinity Parish, Lenexa. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JOE BOLLIG

by Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

LENEXA — The disciples were gathered for prayer in an upper room and the Holy Spirit was present.

But it wasn’t 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem.

It was at 7 p.m. on July 10 in the Southeast Room on the second floor of the Quigley Center at Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa.

More than 200 followers of Christ — most, but not all, Catholic — gathered for a time of enthusiastic charismatic- style prayer and praise called Village Fire.

Village Fire was conducted by the Citywide Prayer Movement of Kansas City, an ecumenical Christian endeavor, in conjunction with the evangelization office of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Holy Trinity Parish hosted the event.

For 90 minutes, Village Fire participants listened to exhortations, heard Holy Trinity member Amanda Connealy’s faith testimony about her young daughter Olivia’s debilitating health crisis, sang praise music, formed small groups to do intercessory prayer for the “hurts of the cities” and participated in eucharistic adoration.

The four identified “hurts of the cities,” determined by Citywide Prayer leaders after meetings with various civic leaders, are: fatherlessness, child illiteracy, sex trafficking and racial healing.

The title of the event, Village Fire, is symbolic. The “village” refers to all the cities of the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area; the “fire” is Christ the light.

Citywide Prayer Movement, explained Deacon Dana Nearmyer, is an ecumenical group that divides the city into 13 regions.

“Christian leaders gather monthly and pray for the geography they serve,” he said. “The idea is to keep ‘the lower lights burning,’ to keep that [passion for prayer] going.”

Although Citywide Prayer has been around for approximately 25 years, Deacon Nearmyer has been involved with it for just five.

“They’ve asked me to create a Catholic Village Fire,” said Deacon Nearmyer. “The upcoming convocation catalyzed in my mind that it was time to bring together our leaders who have been through a lot of ‘missionary disciple’ training to get together and create a groundswell, where we could stoke up a Village Fire in our hearts.”

Village Fires are open to anyone, although he reached out specifically to apostolate leaders like those involved in FOCUS, SPO, Camp Tekakwitha, Totus Tuus, TEC, Kairos, CHIRP, Cursillo and other “spirit-filled” ministries for this first one.

According to Deacon Nearmyer, Village Fires won’t only pray for specific needs and for individuals, but also to prepare people to participate in Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann’s call for Catholics to become “missionary disciples” and for a release of the Holy Spirit for a new evangelization in the archdiocese.

“We’re praying for the release of the Holy Spirit,” said Deacon Nearmyer. “The archbishop has asked us to pray the Novena to the Holy Spirit. He’s asked a new order in our zeal for evangelization, to be in sync with the Holy Father, and this is one phase of that, for each of us to be a vessel for that.

“And then, the other piece is, usually these mission programs ask us to go somewhere to do something different than what we’ve done before.

“With Village Fire, what we’re really going to concentrate on is ministering right where we’re planted. . . . Just do what you do, but do it with the mind of Christ.”

The Holy Trinity event was the first of four scheduled Village Fire prayer events. The remaining three are slated for Sept. 25, Nov. 27 and Feb. 26. Times and places will be announced later.

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