Story and Photos By Christine Bordelon, Clarion Herald
Andi Oney’s life was forever changed when, more than 30 years ago as a teenager growing up in Chauvin, Louisiana, in the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese, she prayed for a fuller release of the Holy Spirit, deeper than what she had already received at baptism and confirmation.
“When you ask for the Holy Spirit to be released in your life, things become new … and you begin to hunger and thirst more for the word of God, the things of God,” Oney said. “The words of Scripture become more profound. Each participation at Mass becomes new.”
That new openness to the fire of the Holy Spirit wakened a witness for faith within her that has manifested itself into solo speaking engagements worldwide at Catholic Charismatic Renewal events, Magnificat breakfasts and elsewhere, and alongside her husband, Deacon Larry Oney, through their Hope and Purpose Ministries.
“When someone opens themselves up to the power of the Holy Spirit as we see Mary did in Scripture, we are called to go forth as she did … to give witness, that is what God is calling us to do.”
New book on Mary
Her latest evangelization has been a new book about the Blessed Mother, “Mary’s Life in the Holy Spirit: A Model for Us,” published by the Word Among Us Press (wau.org), where she explains the many gifts of Mary that she has discovered by studying Scripture, contemplating Mary’s life and reading the works of others who have a devotion to Mary.
“It’s about her life in the Holy Spirit and how Mary is a model for us,” Oney said. “I’m hoping, through this book, that we gain deeper appreciation for Mary as the mother of God, but also know of her great charisms and how she lived her whole life in obedience and relationship with the Holy Spirit. And, that is what God wants for you and me – to have a personal relationship with him.”
Upper Room experience
This is not her first book. She had penned “Extravagant Praise: Our History, Heritage and Hope” in 2016.
Oney credits inspiration for both books from a 2013 experience she had in the Upper Room in Bethlehem during an invitation-only gathering of Catholic Charismatic Renewal leaders from every continent in the world. Her attendance at this event was only possible through the urging of Patti Gallagher Mansfield, one of the first to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Duquesne University in Pennsylvania 1967, she said. The gathering was in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the renewal to be celebrated in Rome in 2017. Something was born anew in her in the Upper Room, she said. She knew the Lord wanted her to share it.
“It was in this atmosphere of extravagant praise that a new fire was ignited in my heart,” Oney said. “It inspired me to meditate on Mary’s hymn of praise in Scripture. The Upper Room has birthed two books in me.”
She said the first book delved into how we, as a Catholic people, “should embrace spontaneous praise of God because it is natural to us. We do it all throughout the Mass. It’s a part of who we are.”
As she continued contemplating the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives, Oney said it led her directly to Mary and the Holy Spirit’s role in her life and prompted her to write this second book.
“The Lord has shown me Mary in a new light,” she said. “Mary was not only contemplative as she pondered everything in her heart, she was open to the power of the Holy Spirit. She was a spontaneous praiser of God – which is what happened in the Upper Room (Acts 2) when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the disciples, and also when she visited Elizabeth and sang her Magnificat of praise.”
Mary has pure heart
She said she’s been meditating on the mystery of the Visitation for several years. During this time, a friend shared with her a beautiful, simple prayer about Mary before receiving Communion. The prayer says, “Mary prepare my heart to receive your son.”
“Since Mary’s heart was so pure, she was always open to the will of the Father,” Oney said. “The simple reality that Mary was never without the Holy Spirit points us to our own need to be open to the Holy Spirit.”
Oney said a hunger and thirst welled up in her to learn as much about Mary as possible so she could articulate it and share it with others.
”She was the Immaculate Virgin, but she was also ready when Gabriel announced to her that God desired her to be the mother of God. That was extraordinary faith for a young girl. … It was a Pentecost for Mary – she ran to tell and serve … she was full of charisms – gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
While her professional background is in education – Oney spent 12 years as a teacher and has a master’s degree in administration and supervision – she sees her new role as spreading the Gospel and sharing about the power of the Holy Spirit and how he is active and alive on the earth today.
“When the Lord calls, the Holy Spirit lights a fire in you … and you start reading the Word of God, and it becomes alive and you can’t keep it to yourself,” she said. “You are like Mary who went to testify, witness and serve. That’s what the Holy Spirit does. He gives us that desire to go in haste. It’s really about souls for the kingdom. That’s what it was about for Our Lady – to draw souls to her son.”
Christine Bordelon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.