By Emily Drooby
Since she was announced as Trump’s SCOTUS pick, Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholic faith has been thrust into the spotlight, especially her connection to the People of Praise, a tight-knit Christian community.
Critics say the community puts men before women, rejects gay marriage and abortion, and called women “handmaids,” a practice stopped after the dystopian show and book “The Handmaids Tale” became popular.
Barrett’s long-time friend rejected these claims, calling People of Praise lovely people.
Founded in 1971 in South Bend, Indiana, they’ve grown to 1,700 members in 22 cities. A covenant community that grew from the charismatic movement
“They’re about five percent of the charismatic renewal, but people in covenants are extremely dedicated and extremely dedicated and extremely active,” explained Monsignor Joseph Malagreca.
He got involved with the Charismatic movement back in 1971. He’s close with many members of the People of Praise, who don’t have a branch in New York City.
Monsignor Malagreca explained while there are a lot of preconceived notions about the group, he had found many of them to be untrue.
“Those in covenant communities, they are certainly very educated people and they’re very dedicated to their church and they’re not insular, they’re very open,” he said.
Monsignor Malagreca is also the coordinator of the Hispanic and Haitian charismatic renewal in the Diocese of Brooklyn, and is in the process of opening a retreat center for the renewal in Brooklyn.
There’s over 150 million Charismatic Catholics world-wide. About 10,000 are in Brooklyn and Queens.
Leybi Lima and Carmalito Canillas are two of them. They both say being a part of this movement has greatly deepened their Catholic faith.
“We know the Father and the son but we don’t know the power of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit has a power of healing,” said Leybi.
“So, the Holy Spirit also lives within us but the idea is to release it, how do you release it? By renewing again your relationship with Jesus by simply saying, ‘Lord, I want you to be my Lord and savior,'” added Carmalito.
One of the parts of the charismatic renewal that gets the most attention are the charismatic gifts.
“At a charismatic prayer meeting, you’ll hear people praying in tongues, and speaking in tongues,” explained Monsignor Malagreca. “You’ll hear moments where people are speaking as if they were God and giving messages.”
“Sometimes we are misunderstood,” Leybi said.
Father John Gribowich of the Diocese of Brooklyn has had ties to the group himself. He explains that the gifts show a person is open to being a conduit of God’s healing, grace and presence.
“Often God wants us to pray in a very pure way without us getting in the way, and when we pray in tongues, the person who is praying in tongues might not know what is being said, but God knows what is being said,” he explained. “And since it’s coming from the person, it’s a perfect act of praise.”
The renewal calls for true Christianity, prayer, holiness of life, witness to God and community, which is why groups like the People of Praise were formed.
Community doesn’t mean people within the renewal are trying to isolate themselves — instead they’re really trying to make this experience normative for all Catholics.