By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer
“This topic is big – bigger than all of us put together. It’s huge,” said Deacon Anthony Campanell, presenting
“The Forgotten Person of the Trinity” at Faith and Spirits April 23 at Fegley’s Allentown Brew Works.
“Who is the Holy Spirit? Who is he to you? How have you experienced him?” Deacon Campbell asked adults of all ages gathered.
These questions and more were discussed during the evening event that featured Deacon Campanell, retired deacon of St. Joseph the Worker, Orefield.
“Faith and Spirits” was created by the Diocesan Office of Adult Formation to provide a forum for all adult Catholics to learn more about their faith in a comfortable setting. It is offered at various locations throughout the Diocese with a variety of engaging speakers and intriguing topics.
Mary Fran Hartigan, secretary of the Diocesan Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization and director of Faith Formation in the Office of Adult Formation, attended the event. Rick Dooley, assistant director, welcomed those gathered.
“The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity, the third person of the Blessed Trinity,” said Deacon Campanell, who was ordained a permanent deacon in 2000. “To go beyond that now we’re in deep water. It’s very hard for us to explain the Holy Spirit for two reasons.”
Those reasons are how we describe the Holy Spirit – such as fire or a dove – and “our catechesis from what generation we’re in.”
“Even if you didn’t understand, you knew the Holy Spirit was important,” he said of learning about the Holy Spirit in catechesis. As we grow into adulthood, “The graces of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation become like a veil to us.”
“The Trinity is this divine love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who creates, sanctifies and fulfills.”
Deacon Campanell said in the creation story in Genesis, God breathed, and it came about. The same words were used by Jesus preparing his disciples. “He breathed on them and said ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
Deacon Campanell said God’s power is manifested in the sacrament of the Eucharist, and the priest is an instrument of God bringing it to us. “That’s the beginning of seeing the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“The Holy Spirit is love that inspires every thought, every word, every action and every word spoken through the prophets who described who Christ is,” Deacon Campanell said, noting for example Isaiah said the savior will come from a virgin in Nazareth.
“He is God, he is love, he is a constant grace … pouring his love into us and the Church. He said he’d never leave us.”
Speaking about the Holy Spirit and Mary, Deacon Campanell quoted the Nicene Creed: “For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit, he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man.”
“Mary was not an afterthought. She was part of God’s plan from the beginning. She was immaculately conceived without original sin. God prepared her so her womb would be like a tabernacle,” Deacon Campanell said.
“At the Annunciation, Mary has many titles. Mary, Mother of Grace, is one of my favorite titles with which we honor her,” he said.
“Mary is always the first person to receive the Holy Spirit. She is the mother of the Church, and our mother.
“When you hear the word Lord that includes the Holy Spirit. You’re praying to all three.
“Without the Holy Spirit, we have no spiritual life. It’s hard to know who Jesus is without him.”
Deacon Campanell asked those gathered to think of how they have encountered Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
“We encounter him in the sacraments. These are power signs of our faith, power signs of the real presence.”
Deacon Campanell said Jesus commanded his disciples to go forth and baptize in his name in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“The Holy Spirit is love. We want to experience the Holy Spirit in action. Mary was a source of Holy Spirit’s actions in our lives.”
Deacon Campanell said the Church was founded by Jesus and is holy because of God and Jesus. The founding of the Church is divine and apostolic.
Deacon Campanell encouraged everyone to pray as they prepare for Pentecost. “Prayer is crucial. Prayer is our treasure chest of hope, and we need more of the Holy Spirit, we need more hope. Look at our world today. Would one not say we need more of the graces from above?”
He said Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, and just prior to that we celebrate Jesus’ Ascension into heaven.
“The apostles must have been empty and fearful after the Ascension. But they were in prayer in the Upper Room,” Deacon Campanell said. He recalled Jesus told them in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
“A witness tells what he sees and hears. We need to connect these words to real life. He didn’t just send them, he’s sending us.”
“Some of us are afraid, are still in our own Upper Room. Every day there are opportunities for us to be a witness,” said Deacon Campanell, as when someone is diagnosed with cancer or has some other serious problem.
“The Holy Spirit empowers us to not be afraid, to come out of our Upper Room and bring light into the world,” Deacon Campanell said.
“We need a new, fresh outpouring. We need to be drenched in the Holy Spirit, because as Christian people on the journey we leak. So we need to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Deacon Campanell said we receive the Holy Spirit in baptism and receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit at confirmation. Pentecost is the coming of the Holy Spirit fulfilled.
“The Holy Spirit wants to clean out our lives of everything that shouldn’t be there,” he said.
“Be convinced there is no greater power on the face of the earth that could compare with God’s Holy Spirit.”
With the Holy Spirit, Deacon Campanell said, we become intentional disciples focused on God’s will. “As baptized Catholics, you are lay apostles.”
Deacon Campanell said he had “a moment of grace” in 1986 when he received a hug and handshake from St. Pope John Paul II when the pontiff visited San Francisco, California. The Pope encouraged people to “be not afraid,” and to shout God’s message from the rooftops. This inspired Deacon Campanell to become involved in evangelism.
All adults are welcome to Faith and Spirits. There is no charge for attending and no registration is required. Menus are available for ordering food and drink at your expense at the venue.