The People of Praise community is part of a global movement that has brought powerful new experiences of the Holy Spirit to more than 500 million people since the beginning of the 20th century — a movement called the Pentecostal movement or the charismatic renewal. Our moment in this larger story began in the late 1960s, when students and faculty at the University of Notre Dame began to experience a renewal of Christian enthusiasm and fervor, together with charismatic gifts like speaking in tongues and physical healing, as described in the New Testament book of Acts. In 1971, building on this experience, 29 people formed the People of Praise community, taking on the spread of baptism in the Holy Spirit as their special mission.
The People of Praise has had particular responsibility for growth of charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church, a renewal that has reached millions, including more than 30 percent of U.S. Catholics, according to a 2006 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. In the 1970s, '80s and '90s, the People of Praise ran international charismatic conferences in South Bend, Rome, Dublin and several major U.S. cities which a total of more than 250,000 people attended, from dozens of denominations and countries. Pope Paul VI addressed the Rome Catholic charismatic conference in 1975, while other prominent Christians, including Pentecostal leaders Derek Prince and Dr. Ern Baxter, Mennonite bishop Nelson Litwiller, and Catholics Kevin Ranaghan, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa and Cardinal Leon Joseph Suenens, spoke at other charismatic conferences.
Today, the People of Praise continues to spread baptism in the Holy Spirit through local seminars and outreaches to college students and to the poor.
The People of Praise is a community where Christians from diverse denominational backgrounds can share life, work, prayer and mission, while still maintaining active membership in their local congregations. We are Methodists and Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Pentecostals, Baptists and Episcopalians. The vast majority of us are lay Christians—married couples, children and single people, but a few of us are ordained Roman Catholic and Lutheran clergy. Several of our single men, including four Catholic priests, are members of the Brotherhood of the People of Praise, an organization with official status in the Catholic Church as a Private Association of the Christian Faithful.
In 1977, we ran a conference in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium which 45,000 people attended, perhaps the largest grass-roots ecumenical gathering since the Reformation, and the first occasion when classical Pentecostals, neo-Pentecostals and Catholic Pentecostals (known as the "three streams" of Pentecostalism) had gathered en masse.
In 1981, the People of Praise launched an ecumenical school called Trinity School, offering a Great Books, Christian education to children in the People of Praise and to the public. Now with campuses in South Bend, IN, Falls Church, VA, and a new, state-of-the-art school building in Eagan, MN, Trinity Schools have received five Blue Ribbon Awards from the U.S. Department of Education.
After a long period of prayer and participation in community life, many members of the People of Praise choose to make a lifelong commitment to the community called a covenant. This covenant is a pledge of love and service to fellow community members and to the Lord, resembling permanent commitments made in Christian religious orders and in many other covenant and intentional communities around the world. Community members make this pledge freely after a formation and instruction period that lasts three to six years. We cherish personal initiative and personal freedom and are open to the possibility that some covenanted members should choose to leave the People of Praise.
Community members agree to contribute five percent of their gross income to the community, creating a fund that supports community outreaches, staff and charitable service to the poor.
Our community life is always evolving, with changes often fueled by the ideas and insights of community members. The highest authority in the community is its board of governors. When making decisions about important matters, the board of governors seeks input and opinions from all community members through a formal consultation process.
Community life provides a natural support for marriages and families. Many community children grow up as close friends while their mothers and fathers find friendship, encouragement and insight from other community members. Marriages in the community have a very low divorce rate.
Community members agree to serve one another, no matter the type of need—spiritual, material or financial. We work together, pray for one another, visit one another, share meals and offer one another gifts of money and material items in times of need. Through daily acts of kindness and by constantly forgiving one another's faults, we hope to live up to the simple call of the Lord Jesus, "Love one another."