Anne-Marie Welsh

David Mangan with the notebook he used during
the 1967 "Duquesne Weekend."
Photo/Anne-Marie Welsh

The half-day retreat began with all the regular components of such events at St. Joseph Church/Bread of Life Community in Erie October 19: prayer, music and worship. But those gathered didn’t have to wait too long for the highlight: David Mangan, guest speaker for the event sponsored by the Word of Life Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

Mangan was one of the 28 participants who got together in 1967 for what has become known as the “Duquesne Weekend,” a university-sponsored Catholic retreat near Pittsburgh. Eventually, several would come to recognize they had been baptized in the Spirit during the weekend — although as it happened, they knew only that they were experiencing a new and powerful faith, expressed in some cases in a language they could not understand. More than 50 years later, the effects of that weekend continue to reverberate throughout the world in what has become known as the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

The group had come together to study the work of the Holy Spirit as detailed in the Acts of the Apostles. Mangan especially appreciated the speaker who explained that the word described as “power” promised to the Apostles in Scripture is the same Greek word that forms the root of “dynamite.” Mangan wanted to know where the dynamite was in his faith.
Later that day, he learned the retreat would have to be cancelled because a pipe had burst at the retreat house and no plumber was available to fix it. One of the leaders suggested a small group go to the chapel to pray about the situation. Mangan found the idea challenging because he had never prayed for something so specific—something that required immediate action. Nevertheless, he went to the chapel and was surprised to find himself thanking God for the water. He later realized that simple prayer was, in fact, the result of the gift of faith. Immediately after praying, Mangan went to a sink and was thrilled to find water rushing out of the spigot. 
Years later, Mangan would learn the plumber had had a change of heart and decided to fix the pipes. Supernatural or not, Mangan’s prayers had been answered. He returned to the chapel to offer thanks, and found himself prostrate on the ground, barely able to move. As he tried to pray, words came out in a language he did not understand.

Not everyone on the Duquesne Weekend had such life-altering experiences.

Participants offer praise and worship during the conference offered
by the Word of Life Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Erie.

In the book she wrote about it for the event’s 25th anniversary, As By a New Pentecost, (Amor Deus Publishing, 2016) participant Patti Gallagher Mansfield discovered that about 12 people believed they had been baptized in the Spirit that weekend. It was as a result of Mansfield’s research that Mangan learned he was apparently the first to receive the gifts.
In an interview with the Diocese of EriE-News, Mangan said that the Holy Spirit had been moving in a number of ways before the Duquesne Weekend. But faculty members who participated shared their experiences with colleagues at the University of Notre Dame, and from there, Mangan said, “things happened so fast you couldn’t keep up with it.”
A faith-filled Catholic who now makes his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Mangan said for him, it began with the grace of being Catholic.

“I start there because that’s where I was baptized,” he said. “It’s where I learned the basics of faith. I wasn’t a perfect student, but I had experienced the Lord. So, I know I went into that weekend with a lot of grace.”  

Those interested in learning more about the Duquesne Weekend can reference Mansfield’s book; those wanting more information about regional Catholic charismatic events sponsored by Word of Life should visit www.eriercd.org/wordoflife/events.html.

As for Mangan, his advice to those seeking a deeper experience with the Holy Spirit is simple. Pausing for a moment to consider the question, he says, “Immerse yourself in the faith.”