Friday, May 29, 2015

Testimony From Mission Family Part I

Australia, - The Neocatechumenal Way is one of the new movements in the Church employing, in many ways, new approaches to spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to a society which often focuses on living comfortably in the here and now, but with little reference to God. 

 Sardinian couple Monica and Pino Spissu said that if God had given them a longer courtship they wouldn’t have got married, they’re very different people and were also quite grown up.

“God knows, he gave us a nice short period to get to know each other and, later, fireworks,” they said, laughing.

Now, nearly 20 years later, they are half a world away from where they met, living in Baldivis with their family of seven children: Giovanni, 16, Stefano, 15, Francesca, 13, Tommaso, 10, Michela, 7, Maria, 4 and Pietro, 3.

“The people of the world are not stupid, they fight and they divorce,” Pino said, lightheartedly but in all seriousness.

 Both see marriage as the key to the future, for them and for society but they give credit to their ability to stay united to Jesus Christ.

“When we reconcile, it’s not an idea. Providence is concrete,” Pino said.

“The earthly love would be finished,” Monica adds. “But I find that I am able to love my husband and we’ve discovered our marriage is much better than before.”

 “The difference with us is we disagree or argue but after, we reconcile. Our marriage would have been finished many times many years ago without Jesus Christ.”

In difficult moments, they reflect back on the way God led them to find one another back in 1994 - a time in their life they cherish.

“The day of marriage was like a day of eternity, of fullness. There was no fear, no rush,” Monica said.

 Pino was 36 and Monica was 28 when they chanced upon each other in a shop.
They were both in the Neocatechumenal Way (see story on Page 15) at this time, and although they had been making steps in the Way over the years, they weren’t really friends.

But when they crossed paths in 1994, he was going to daily Mass and so was she.

 Both had been asking God about their vocation so when they bumped into each other they knew it was not by accident and they started attending Mass and spending time together.

“We saw immediately that this was the will of God; it was clear,” Monica said.
When they told the Responsible - the community’s supervisor, who knew them both individually - that they had started dating, he suggested they waste no time and if they were sure, they should get married in, say, three months.
This got Pino thinking. He proposed almost immediately.

Then the couple saw several examples of God working in their lives.
They thought they’d have nothing to start a home with but at their engagement party after Easter that year, they discovered that Pino’s aunties had been preparing a dowry for the day Pino would get married.

 Then, on the day of their wedding, one of the guests handed them the keys to an apartment in the mountains where they were planning to go on honeymoon but had at that stage not made any reservations.

 These surprise experiences strengthened their faith and not long after they were married in July 1994, they said they felt called to go ‘on mission’ and be a mission family in the Neocatechumenal Way for the Church.

What is the mission?

“The mission is a vocation,” they said.

“We stood up as a couple that was available to go anywhere in the world.”
To ‘stand up’ is Neocatechumenal speak; it refers to what happens at a ‘Convivence’ or community retreat when a ‘call for vocations’ occurs.
Those who feel called to a particular vocation ‘stand up’ in front of everyone at a particular point during the Convivence and confirm their desire to answer the call whether it be to the priesthood or to go ‘on mission’.

The mission could mean being part of a team of catechists or it could be providing Catechesis in that member’s diocese or it could be being called to form part of a missio ad gentes.

Two national Convivences are held in Australia each year, but whether Convivences happen regionally or nationally may vary from country to country.
Monica and Pino first stood up to “confirm their desire to go on mission” in October 1994. They stood up at each subsequent annual Convivence but it wasn’t until the year 2000 that they would be called and sent.
“The Church takes time to discern,” they said.

To be sent on mission, the family has to be free from “impediments” such as debts or the responsibility of caring for elderly parents. “You have to be free; you’re not escaping when you are on mission,” Monica said.

When their name came up with Canberra as their destination - an assignment that was pulled out of a hat at random - they said they were surprised.
They were expecting to be sent to South America or Africa and to have to manually build churches.

 But there is a mission here, Pino said.

“It’s probably bigger than the one in poor countries. There’s a spiritual poverty - like in Europe - the people are no longer interested in religion or they are not looking for faith.”

In 2000, the Jubilee Year of the Family, Monica and Pino were one of 100 families that were called to the Neocatechumenal headquarters in Porto San Giorgio to receive their mission, and were also present at a general audience with Pope John Paul II to celebrate the Year of the Family in St Peter’s Square in October that year.

 In 2001, once the visas came through, Pino and Monica uprooted their Sardinian family of four children at the time and moved to Canberra.
The couple left behind two permanent jobs in Sardinia, which had a nine per cent unemployment rate; Monica was a public servant and Pino was a PE teacher.

“We were attacked by our relatives and friends who couldn’t understand how we could leave our jobs and move our children; but God provided everything,” she said.

 The move required some cultural adjustments.

“As Sardinians, we have very deep roots in our culture and families and it’s very difficult to change lives,” Monica said.

 Pino and Monica had to learn English at TAFE in Canberra, acclimatise to Australian eating times and the way people interact less spontaneously because of the way Australian cities are planned out. Getting to shops often involves a car trip rather than a walk down the street.

 They have noticed that, unlike Italian cities which have buildings and shops built close together, cities like Canberra and Baldivis are spread out and people are much more isolated.

“You don’t see anyone and the people are working every day,” Pino said.
Now that they are living in Baldivis, the Spissu family is trying to integrate into the local way of life here.

 Giovanni, Stefano and Francesca attend Kolbe Catholic College and Tommaso, Michela and Maria attend Our Lady Star of the Sea in Rockingham.

 Pino picks them up in the afternoon so they get home by 4pm and as soon as they get home, they’re talking to each other in fluent Italian and have turned up the Beatles as they hurry to get changed out of their uniforms.

All but the youngest speak fluent Italian and English. Pietro who is three is just starting to learn English.

“At home, we speak Italian. Firstly, because it’s good for them to be bilingual and secondly, to keep our roots,” Pino said.

“We are not migrants here; we’re missionaries. We are only here for this reason.”


Testimony From Mission Family (Continued Part II)

Since school is a 20-minute car trip away and their friends don’t live close by, the children tend to spend time at home unless they have soccer or netball training to get to.

“Every day is like today,” Monica said, referring to the way the children occupy themselves at home.

“They have good friends at school but they’re doing very well. The kids are at home a lot but the day is full. There is no sadness or lack of anything. We do the most we can to make them happy,” she said.

Once a year Monica’s mother, Marinella Lai, comes out to visit the family and once every two years the family goes back to Italy because, as part of the mission, they share their experiences with their brothers and sisters in the community at the parish of St Charles Borromeo in Cagliari in Sardinia.

 This community in Sardinia pays for their airfares. It also supports the family by taking up collections whenever they are in need and, in this way, their brothers and sisters share in the mission.

It’s not easy to leave Italy every time they go back, Pino said, but they know that the will of God is for them to be here.

 But Pino said there’s always a question mark as to whether he will see his mother and father again who are 86 and 89 respectively.
“It’s a sign that we’re not on holidays here but on mission for God,” he said.

From Sardinia ... to Canberra ... to Baldivis
Archbishop Barry Hickey called the Spissu family to Baldivis to work with those people who wouldn’t usually come to the Church and those who are not Catholic.

 They brought all their furniture from Canberra and their van too.
They were to join Fr Daniel Chama - who was appointed to the mission in Baldivis in February last year.

 This time around it was not as easy to uproot the family because by this stage, Monica and Pino had seven children; some were teenagers with established networks of friends.

 The call to move from Canberra to Perth for the mission came as a shock but, through accepting the call, they have experienced God at work.
Giovanni said he didn’t want to move to Perth but as soon as they moved, “he found peace within himself and within the family”.
Francesca wasn’t ready to move either.

“It was one of the hardest things to do; I’ve lived most of my life there,” she said.

“I thought I’d cry 24/7 but I cried the first day then God put me at peace and helped me with friends,” she said.

“I see God is still helping me, I’m doing netball and having fun with that. We have created a team,” she said.

 The hardest part about leaving Canberra was having to make new friends in Baldivis and Rockingham and leaving behind her best friend who was the same age and also part of a mission family in Canberra.

 Francesca said she hesitates to mention that that she’s part of a mission family, wondering whether the new people she meets will accept her.

 But then she finds the strength to say “this is my life”, she said, because if she’s not saying that she’s part of a mission family then she’s not “saying her whole story”.

Pino has also faced some difficulty in finding work; the West Australian government does not recognise his qualifications so he is currently looking for a part time job.

His degrees were recognised in Canberra and he was able to work as a PE teacher for seven years at a bilingual Italian school, but he has not been so fortunate here.

 But the struggles do not seem to deter the family from smiling and laughing.
“The main thing accompanying us is the joy. Among the problems - between us, the children, the solitude, the humiliation that comes with aspects of the mission, the loneliness - what we see is the joy to be on mission is still as present as before. This is what keeps us here, the joy,” Monica said.
Even though the family has been ‘sent’ to Australia, they’re not bound to stay here all their lives, but God willing, Pino says, they are available to do this.
“God is keeping us happy. We are a normal couple with normal problems as a couple and in the family but God is helping us,” Monica said.

 Pino and Monica are a united couple and their joy and love permeates the family and shines on the bright, happy faces of their children.

 But Monica said that like in any marriage, there have been several moments of “crisis” where they cannot bear one another anymore and if they were to rely solely on their human strength their marriage would have failed by now.

When they encounter difficulties, she said, the only thing they can do is “defend Jesus Christ within us, separately, each of us in his own way,” and then they discover a different love for the other.

“Christ is the one who has brought us together again and again,” she said, and this power to forgive comes from the grace of their baptism. Now the desire to live their Catholic faith as part of the Neocatechumenal Way and be on mission is now starting to come from their children as well.

 In 2009, as teenagers, Giovanni and Stefano became members of the Way when they attended the Catechesis - the first step in the community.
Stefano said he couldn’t imagine what life would be like without the Necatechumenal Way.

 He said he started the Catechesis because he saw his parents were happy. He also has many friends in Italy who are part of the Community whom he catches up with when they return to Italy on their biennial visits.

And now that Francesca is old enough, she too will join the community when she begins the Catechesis - the first step in the Way - this month.
Pino said the children are starting to see with their own eyes the ways God works in their lives.

“A few years ago it was just mum and dad on mission - now it’s the family,” he said.

 Much of their role here is to simply witness to their experiences of Christ in the family and as a family.

 While much of this is done just by the way they live their life, they also are active witnesses - knocking on their neighbours’ doors on a Saturday morning in an effort to ‘announce the Gospel’ to those who don’t go to Mass, who practise other religions or who don’t believe in God.

To Announce the Gospel
The door knocking drill begins with Mass celebrated by Fr Daniel Chama on Saturday at 9am for members of the Neocatechumenal Way who are part of the mission in Baldivis including Monica, Pino, Giovanni and Stefano Spissu.
After mass - just as Christ sent out his 70 disciples two by two - these modern missionaries hit the suburban streets to announce the Gospel in Baldivis.
Pino will head out with another brother in the community, Monica with a sister in the community; Giovanni will head out with the Croatian-born seminarian, Mate, while Stefano will head out with Fr Daniel. 

Those living in streets between Clyde Ave and Safety Bay Rd in Baldivis have been visited already so these urban missionaries are gradually working their way south of Clyde Ave.

Pino said they have visited the neighbourhood of River Gums and now they’re starting to visit Settler’s Hills.

 Pino is not phased by the quantity of houses to visit or the distance they need to cover; he says he has plenty of time and when they finish, they’ll start again because people move in and out.

But this door knocking isn’t an easy task; people slam the doors in their faces and many just aren’t interested.

“Some listen to us and share with us; very few let us in. It’s probably not in the Australian culture like it is in the Italian culture to invite someone in; most of the times we’re outside and they’re inside, behind the wire screen and we can’t see them,” he said.

 But in comparison to the people of Canberra, Monica and Pino say that they have found those in Baldivis to be more welcoming.

“In Australia, people aren’t interested in religion. This is the reality,” Pino said.
If a pair of these modern day disciples knock on a door and find therein a Catholic family, they simply let them know when Mass is on: Sundays at nearby Tranby College.

 But if they knock on the door and mention the word ‘Church’ to a ‘far-away’ - a pagan or someone who has left the Faith - or invite this person to come and pray with them, according to Pino, “it can be difficult”.

That’s when grace comes into play: there is a particular grace they receive to do this missionary work, he said.

 In the Gospel of Luke Chapter 10, Jesus sends out the 70, advising them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you”.
Humanly speaking, Pino said, it’s not possible.

“I go trembling and I come back always happy,” he said.

 Giovanni has a similar experience of the work: “It clears my mind; it helps me, even when we get rejected. But I feel at peace. It surprises me every time. I can’t explain why that is,” he said.

When they first visit a house, they say they are “missionaries of the Catholic Church”.

They find that some people will speak to them for the simple fact that they are not Jehovah’s Witnesses who are door-knocking twice a week, Pino said. With the ‘far-aways’ who seem interested, they invite them to visit their house for community prayer.

 Once a week on Thursdays, the Spissus family host a prayer evening at their house; another Neocatechumenal mission family in Baldivis will host one on Tuesday night.

 Giovanni said that when he’s out door knocking the adult he’s with speaks first but if he is inspired, he will contribute freely - “I don’t have anything holding me back”.

“The first house is always scary but after that’s over, I’m calm again and ready to move onto the next house,” he said.

 But Pino stressed that they’re not out to convert people; and in any case, it’s not his particular words that inspire people.

 With Christianity, God touches your heart, he said.

 If he says, ‘God loves you,’ and God touches that person’s heart,’ that’s all he has to say.

“God is always there, looking for people to give them what they’re looking for: joy and happiness.

“And we can find this just in God,” he said.

The most important thing is to live here as a Christian family, he said.
“We are not here to convert people; just to live here as a witness to Jesus Christ, that a couple can stay together.

“Without Jesus Christ we’d be divorced,” Pino said.

 The experience of God working in his life, in his marriage and in his family is something concrete, Pino said.

“God is helping us very clearly -
 we can see God acting. What we’ve experienced is not that God is above in Heaven and watching. He is present in our daily problems, joys and lives,” he said.

“To be with God is a beautiful experience. When I was young, I thought I had to sacrifice.

God is giving me everything in abundance,” he said.
Even though neither Pino nor Monica are working at the moment, they are managing.

“It’s not money that makes you happy. God is helping us,” he said.

A new approach to evangelisation in the Australian Burbs

Baldivis is evangelisation territory on the edge of the Perth Archdiocese: brand new homes, housing estates and shopping complexes, schools and churches are springing up to cater for the growing population projected to reach 42,000 by 2030.

 A Catholic Archdiocesan presence was officially established in Baldivis on 8 December last year with experienced hand Fr Geoffrey Aldous as the parish priest.

 However, without a Catholic presence in the area up to that point, Archbishop Hickey asked if the Neocatechumenal Way could bring the Gospel message to Baldivis and evangelise the area as a missio ad gentes (mission to the people). Fr Daniel Chama - a diocesan priest of the Perth Archdiocese who was trained at the Redemptoris Mater seminary in Morley - was appointed to the Baldivis mission in February 2010, to coincide with the arrival of the first mission family who moved to Baldivis in January.

 Monica and Pino Spissu, originally from the Italian island of Sardinia, were living in Canberra on mission when Archbishop Hickey called them and their family of seven to Baldivis.

Their mission was to ‘announce the Gospel’ in the charism of the Neocatechumenal Way, give witness to their faith, live a Christian marriage and support the budding parish community. Several members of the Way are also part of this mission including Croation-born Redemptoris Mater seminarian Mate (pronounced Mah-tay), who arrived with Fr Daniel Chama in February last year.
Two families from Spain arrived in August last year for the mission and two ladies from Italy, Clara and Lydia, arrived in October.

A fourth family has recently arrived from Wollongong, after being among the 230 families commissioned - sent all over the world to tell the uncatechised of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ - in January this year by Pope Benedict XVI.

- By Bridget Spinks

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Muslims Turning To Christianity

Many years ago, I read a book entitled The Prophet and the Messiah.  It was written by Chawkat Moucarry, an Arab Muslim who converted to Christianity.  He and many converts are reaching out to other Muslims about the truth of Christianity.  These converts are fully aware of both the Muslim and the Christian world.  Catholicism has increased in Asia and Africa.  One would even be surprise to find that thousands of Muslims are converting to Christianity, especially Catholicism. The Neocatechumenal Way and other Catholic movements are in Asia and Africa., and it appears that their missionary work is producing fruits.  The NCW is also in the Middle East, especially in Lebanon where there are more communities. According to news report: 

Over the past few years, some 200,000 Muslims have converted to Christianity.  In the year 2005, 2.5 million Muslims in Russia became Orthodox Christians.  In the past two years, 50,000 Iranian Muslims have become Christian.

While it is common for Muslim to convert to more evangelical Christianity, there are still many who are finding their way into the Catholic Church.  15,000 Muslims a year convert in France, 10,000 of which become Catholic.

According to the website Islam Watch, in Russia, some two million ethnic Muslims converted to Christianity last year. Ten thousand French Muslims converted, as did 35,000 Turkish Muslims. In India, approximately 10,000 people abandoned Islam for Christianity.
In his book Epicenter, author Joel Rosenberg details amazing stories of Muslims converting to Christianity. In Algeria, the birthplace of St. Augustine, more than 80,000 Muslims have turned to Christ in recent years. This, despite the stiff opposition from Islamic clerics who have passed laws banning evangelism.

In Morocco, newspaper articles openly worry that 25,000 to 40,000 Muslims have become followers of Christ in recent years.

The stories are even more amazing in the heart of the Middle East. In 1996, the Egyptian Bible Society sold just 3,000 video copies of the JESUS film. In the year 2000, they sold an incredible 600,000 copies.

In Sudan, as many as five million Muslims have accepted Christ since the early 1990s, despite horrific persecution of Christians by the Sudanese government. What is behind the mass conversions? According to a Sudanese evangelical leader, "People have seen real Islam, and they want Jesus instead."

In Iraq, "More than 5,000 Muslim converts to Christianity have been identified since the end of major combat operations," says Islam Watch. And just a few days ago, the first-ever Roman Catholic church was consecrated in Qatar, a Sunni Muslim state where the Wahhabi brand of Islam is practiced. This was the first time Christians in Qatar have been allowed to practice their faith openly. Ten thousand people attended the opening mass.

These conversions have not escaped the notice of Islamic leaders. In 2001, Sheikh Ahmad Al Qatanni, a leading Saudi cleric, delivered the disturbing news on Al-Jazeera: Every day, he said, "16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity . . . every year, that is six million Muslims becoming Christians . . . A tragedy has happened." It is possible the sheikh was inflating his numbers to incite a reaction against Christianity. But clearly, something is happening.

How thrilling to learn that so many Muslims have been set free from the chains of their sins-just as you and I have-by the power of Christ's blood! We must pray for these new brothers and sisters; many are being violently persecuted for their new-found faith.

These millions of conversions give us one more reason to rejoice this Easter season. Yes, we may be in a great clash of civilizations; battling Islamo-fascists who threaten to kill us. And the future may at times look bleak. But never despair: God is on His throne, bringing people into His kingdom from the very heart of Islam.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Benedict Daswa

Benedict Daswa was murdered on February 2, 1990.  As he drove home, he found the road blocked with stones and logs.  As he tried to remove the blockade, his attackers came out throwing stones at him.  He was beaten and killed.  Benedict Daswa prayed to God saying, "God, into your hands receive my spirit" as his attackers clubbed him with a knobkerrie.  He fell and died. He was killed because he opposed witchcraft and would not contribute money to hire for a witch hunt. 

Benedict Daswa was born Samuel Daswa in 1946, and he belonged to the Jewish Lemba tribe in rural Limpopo in South Africa.  Daswa grew up observing Jewish customs, but was baptized in the Church at the age of 17.  He took the name Benedict after the sixth century monk and Benedict Risimati, according to his catechist who instructed him on his faith as a teen.  Daswa was confirmed shortly after his baptism, and became involved in teaching younger members of his community about Catholicism. 

Pope Francis approved a decree that recognized his martyrdom on Janury 22, 2015, thus paving the way for his beatification.  According to Catholic News Agency, Daswa may be South Africa's first saint.  The Neocatechumenal Way has RMS priests ordained by Pope Francis.  In time, the NCW may even have their first canonized saint.

On February 13, 2015, Benedict Daswa's eldest son spoke at a Neocatechumenal Retreat in South Africa.  According to the news article: 

South African Martyr Benedict Daswa’s Son Speaks at Neocatechumenal Way Meeting
DaswaBy Lauren O’Connor May
CAPE TOWN, February 13, 2015 ( – Lufuno Daswa made his first public appearance as the guest speaker at the Neocathecumenal Way retreat in Cape Town, South Africa.  Lufuno is the eldest son of the Servant of God Benedict Daswa.  On January 22nd, 2015, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree on the martyrdom of Daswa who was beaten to death in Limpopo in 1990 after he refused to contribute money to hire a traditional healer for a witch-hunt.

“I saw in this invitation, from the Neocathecumenal Way, an inspiration from the Holy Spirit. It was not just a request for a speech but an opportunity to be a witness to the Christian family values that our father taught us,” Daswa said.

One of the themes of the retreat was the rediscovery of the central role of the family in the transmission of the faith to children.

“Many youth suffer and are disoriented in life because of the absence of a father figure, to guide them in faith. Benedict Daswa, as a father of eight children who died giving witness to his faith, is an inspiration for all Christian families of South Africa,” said Dino Furgione, the responsible for the Neocatechumenal Way in South Africa.

Lufuno Daswa was accompanied by Chris Maphaphuli, one of his father’s closest friends, and Sister Claudette Hiosan, who is the promoter of the cause of Benedict Daswa.

“I remember my father never did anything without invoking the Holy Spirit,” Lufuno said. “Whatever decisions he made, whatever meeting or event he opened, he always prayed first.”

Sister Hiosan said: “The cause has been fast tracked in Rome because it is the first cause for a black, South African-born saint, but more importantly, because witchcraft/sorcery is on the rise throughout the African continent; in fact, worldwide”.

Benedict Daswa was born in Mbahe, a poor, Venda village near Thohoyandou in the Diocese of Tzaneen, Limpopo, the northern-most province of South Africa, on June 16th, 1946.

Like Saint John Paul II, Benedict experienced during his youth the painful loss of his father. He then grew in fatherhood, caring for his younger brothers and sisters. Through contact with Catholic friends, he converted to Catholicism in 1963. Shortly afterward his mother was inspired to do the same.

His faith led him to serve the Church in many ways, assisting catechists and priests, inspiring the youth, helping with construction of churches. He was also the headmaster of the local school and held several other prominent positions in the community. He was widely respected and held great influence.

After a severe lightning storm on January 25th, 1990 which caused a number of thatched huts in the village to catch fire, the headman’s council agreed to consult a traditional healer to identify the witch who was responsible for the burnings. A monetary contribution was agreed on to pay the person.
Benedict arrived late for the meeting, after this decision had been taken. His explanation that lightning was a natural phenomenon was rejected. He argued strongly against blaming witches for causing lightning strikes. When the decision was upheld, Benedict refused to pay the contribution, arguing that his Catholic faith prevented him from taking part in anything connected with witchcraft.
His faith led him to take a courageous stand and confront the council’s decision.  Because of this many in the community felt that his conduct was belittling the traditional beliefs. They saw him as a stumbling block and conspired to get rid of him.

On February 2nd, 1990 Benedict was ambushed by a mob after driving a neighbor to a nearby village. He was stoned and beaten to death. When Benedict saw one man from the mob coming towards him with a knobkerrie – a traditional club stick with a large ball at the end – he prayed: “God, into your hands receive my spirit” as he was dealt a fatal blow which crushed his skull. Boiling water was then poured over his head.

Benedict was survived by his pregnant wife, Evelyn, who gave birth to their eight child four months after his death, their 7 other children, his mother Ida, and his three brothers and sister. His wife died of cancer in 2008, the same year that his youngest brother also died after an illness.

“Listening to Lufuno’s testimony is the most touching way in which one can learn about Benedict Daswa’s life. In today’s society, everyone who wants to live a Christian life has to take a courageous stand. This is why many of the people who attended the retreat were inspired by Benedict’s life story,” said Furgione.

Jacky Capes said: “Since the retreat all I can talk about is Benedict Daswa. I’ve told everyone at work and my family. His story is so inspiring.”

“What inspires me about Benedict Daswa, is how Christ-like he was”, said Lauren May. “He stood up against customs that were in contradiction to his faith and it made him unpopular with people who resented his influence and they killed him because of it but they couldn’t destroy his legacy. His children and his friends are still living the values that he taught them.”

Benedict has been an inspiration especially for the Christian families. “There are so many things that have echoed with my wife and I,” said Treston Brown, a local father of six. “The one thing that echoed most deeply is that he was a family man, always transmitting the faith to his children around the supper table and everyone who entered his house. Not just in word but deed as well.”
Chris Maphaphuli, Benedict’s close friend, said that the Christian way in which Benedict related to his wife inspired him to treat his wife in a new way, which for him was counter-cultural.
“In the Venda culture, the wife always makes the tea,” Maphaphuli said. “Once when I was visiting my friend Benedict, his wife was busy and I said to him: ‘Tell your wife to make us some tea.’ He got up and said: ‘No, I will make the tea’.”

“He also told me that when his wife was sick, he would cook and look after the children and I said his wife must have put something in his food to make him crazy. Since he died, I have tried to do as Benedict taught me but I can’t cook, though I do sometimes make my own tea.”

The Light Of Truth

In my last entry post, an anonymous commenter made the following comment, which can be found here.   According to the commenter: 

This whole argument is stupid. Please allow me to demonstrate.

John and Barry both believe that the earth exists, and they both believe there is only one earth.

John looks out his window and notices that the world around him looks flat, and that water runs downhill. He concludes that the entire earth is, in fact, flat. He believes in the earth, but sees it a certain way.

Barry, on the other hand, is an astronaut, and he sees the earth rather differently – as a sort of sphere, in fact. Barry believes in the earth’s existence too, but sees something different to John.

Because they see the earth differently, albeit only in some limited respects: John and Barry do quite different things, and have quite different attitudes. John, for example, will not travel on ships, for fear of falling of the earth’s edge.

Now, what good can be achieved by merely affirming that both John and Barry believe in the same, one earth. Certainly, there is not another earth, but that doesn’t mean John and Barry “believe” in the same one. John’s is flat, for a start, and on John’s earth, sailing is dangerous.

Given that the earth is actually not flat, if Barry was to remain silent and not point out to John his mistaken understanding; could he be considered his friend? Would it be charitable to allow John to continue in his false belief? Even if John’s understanding is partially correct (the earth is flat in certain areas) his overall understanding is plain wrong – ie it doesn’t match reality.

Barry certainly doesn’t hate John for being wrong, in fact, he likes him. So he decides to tell him the truth, and not have a party celebrating that they both simply believe in the earth.
This is my response to the above commenter: 
Dear Anonymous at 10:08 pm,
Your whole argument is stupid.  Please allow me to demonstrate. 

Before the fourth century, people actually thought the earth was flat! By the fourth century and onward, people were starting to realize that the earth was a sphere, and there were no astronauts in the fourth century.  In other words, one never needed to be above the earth to figure out that the earth was a sphere.  The first person who advocated that the earth was a sphere was the Greek philosopher Aristotle.  Later, other philosophers and scientists of the fifth and sixth century were agreeing with Aristotle.  The Catholic Church also agreed that the earth was a sphere.  And there were no astronauts at that time.  The light of truth takes time to reveal itself.  And in this case, truth revealed itself in nature, which God created.   After the fourth century everyone accepted that the earth was a sphere, and no one was an astronaut during that time.  The debate after the fourth century was NOT the shape of the earth but the size of the earth. 

In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  Columbus and his contemporaries believed the earth was a sphere because his plan was to seek a trade route to Asia by sailing west.   If the King and Queen of Spain actually believed that the world was flat, they would never have financed Columbus' voyage. 

You stated:  Because they see the earth differently, albeit only in some limited respects: John and Barry do quite different things, and have quite different attitudes. John, for example, will not travel on ships, for fear of falling of the earth’s edge.

Where is your faith in God?????  In Indonesia, 10,000 Muslims converted to Catholicism.  And here you are saying that it is impossible for John to see that the world is round??  Where is your faith in God??  This is why Tim Rohr and his kids stand outside the Catholic Church selling Catholic books.....because Catholics lost their faith.  Why does the NCW testify in front of the Catholic assembly in the church???  It is for the same reason why Tim Rohr sells Catholic books to Catholics.  Many Catholics lost their faith and even do not know their faith.   

You asked:  Now, what good can be achieved by merely affirming that both John and Barry believe in the same, one earth.  My question to you is what good can be achieved by pointing fingers and saying "You're wrong and we're right".  The light of truth takes time and patience.  Christ commissioned His Church to spread the Good News about Him.  That is all.  The role of the Church is to spread the Gospel so that people would know Christ. The living God, who desires all men to be saved, will be the one to enlighten people of the truth because since the beginning God prepared them to receive the Gospel.  However, it must be received through one's free will.  In other words, Christianity should not be forced upon anyone.  According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 

CCC 843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332

When the Apostle Paul spoke to the pagans in Athens, he called them "children of God (Acts 17:28-29) because God created all mankind in His image and likeness.  Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis prayed and worshipped TOGETHER with the Jews in their synagogues because the Catholic Church recognized that the Jews pray to and worship the same God as the Christians.  If you feel that these Popes (the Vicars of Christ) were wrong, by what authority and credential do you have to make such a claim?   

What I find ironic is that you are so quick to accuse the Jews and Muslims of worshipping a different God because they are ignorant of God's nature of the Holy Trinity; yet, you do not recognize that Protestant Christians have a different view of Jesus.  While it is true that mainstream Protestants believe in the Holy Trinity, the things they say that Christ taught is not the same as what Catholics say. For example, Catholics say that Jesus instituted seven sacraments.  Some Protestant Christians only recognize one or two sacraments that Jesus instituted while other Christians claim that He instituted nothing of the sort.  Many Protestants believe in "sola fide" (faith alone) and "sola scriptura' (Bible alone).   These are errors of doctrine never taught by Christ; yet, the Protestants claim that these doctrines were actually taught by Christ.  So, why do you not accuse them of worshipping a different Christ?     

Friday, May 22, 2015

Nostra Aetate

There has been some anti-Semitic comments expressed by some commentors. Some of the comments have not been published due to the fact that it is too vile.  Apparently, some people do not believe that Jews and Christians worship the same God.  How some people conclude that the Jews worship a different God is beyond me.  If one were to ask a Jew the name of the God they worship, their answer would be "Yahweh" or "YHWH".  Is Yahweh supposed to be another or different God than who the Christians worship??? Yahweh is the one and only true God, and Christians also worship Yahweh.   

In the Jerusalem Bible, which is a Catholic Bible, the name "Yahweh" is found there.  This simply means that the Jews and the Christians worship the same God.  God revealed Himself to the Jews in their history, but to the Christians, this same God revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ.  However, Christians are aware of God's nature....that He is three persons in one God.  Today, both Christians and Jews are waiting for the Messiah.  For Christians, they are waiting for His return; for the Jews, they await His coming.  On that Day, Christians will recognize Christ and bow down to Him, and the Jews will recognize Yahweh and bow down to Him.  

John 14:9  Jesus saith to him: Have I been so long a time with you; and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also. How sayest thou, shew us the Father?  

The following was taken from the document Nostra Aetate, which was written in 1965:

Thus the Church of Christ acknowledges that, according to God's saving design, the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. She professes that all who believe in Christ-Abraham's sons according to faith (6)-are included in the same Patriarch's call, and likewise that the salvation of the Church is mysteriously foreshadowed by the chosen people's exodus from the land of bondage. The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles.(7) Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles. making both one in Himself.(8)

The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: "theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:4-5), the Son of the Virgin Mary. She also recalls that the Apostles, the Church's main-stay and pillars, as well as most of the early disciples who proclaimed Christ's Gospel to the world, sprang from the Jewish people.

As Holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognize the time of her visitation,(9) nor did the Jews in large number, accept the Gospel; indeed not a few opposed its spreading.(10) Nevertheless, God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues-such is the witness of the Apostle.(11) In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and "serve him shoulder to shoulder" (Soph. 3:9).(12)

Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ;(13) still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.

Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.

Nostra Aetate

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Doctorate For NCW Initiators

This doctorate is very important because basically it is an endorsement of the Way by the Conference of the US Bishops because this University is under the Episcopal Conference.


Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernandez Receive Honorary Doctorate from Catholic University of America

Initiator of Neocatechumenal Way Speaks to ZENIT on Significance of Degree, Judeo –Christian Relations, and the Importance of the Family
By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME, May 19th, 2015 - ( The Catholic University of America, the sole Pontifical University in the United States, conferred doctorates in Theology honors causa upon the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way, Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernandez on Saturday, May 16th.
During the ceremony held in Washington, D.C., University president John H. Garvey highlighted in his address how Kiko and Carmen formed small Christian communities in parishes where people were “drawn to convert by the discovery that Christ loved them despite their sins: “Through contact with other parishes embracing people in challenging circumstances, little by little a way of Christian initiation was begun for adults who were rediscovering the richness of their baptism. Thus was born the Neocatechumenal Way, known simply as ‘the Way’”.

President Garvey quoted the words of Pope Francis taddressed recently to Kiko and Carmen, “ I thank you for the immense good you are doing  for the whole Church”, and concluded that Argüello and Hernandez were given the doctorate in Theology honoris causa "for their devotion to the poor, which has brought so many into communion with Christ and the Catholic faith."

The itinerary of Christian formation was first introduced in the United States by the initiators in 1974, following an invitation by the then-Director of the Liturgy Office, Msgr. James Donegan. He was then welcomed to visit the parishes in New York by the late Cardinal Terrence Cooke. Currently, the Way is present throughout the United States in 82 dioceses and in 350 parishes with about 1000 communities. In the world there are more than 30,000 communities in 125 countries with almost two millions participants.

Following the ceremony, Argüello spoke with ZENIT on the significance of receiving an honorary doctorate as well as the role the Neocatechumenal Way plays in the Catholic Church to families, which he noted, is severely under attack in today's secular world.

He also spoke on the first International Meeting of Rabbis, Cardinals and Bishops in Israel and organized by the Neocatechumenal Way. The historic event took place on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council document, Nostra Aetate and brought together Orthodox, Reform and Conservative leaders from various denominations. During the meeting, the Rabbis recognized the dramatic change that the Catholic Church began in Judeo-Christians relations with Nostra Aetate, which defined anti-Semitism as a sin against God and proclaimed, as St. Paul did, that the covenant of God with Israel has never been revoked [cf. Nostra Aetate, 4].

Interview With Kiko On Meeting With Rabbis

The following interview was emailed to me in its translation (the bold is mine).


Last Thursday ended in Israel, the international meeting of Christian-Jewish rabbis, cardinals and bishops, promoted by the Neocatechumenal Way, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Declaration Nostra Aetate and in remembrance of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust. It was held at the Domus Galilaeae, on the Sea of Galilee and was attended by 120 rabbis, 7 Cardinals (Pell, Rylko, Toppo, Schonborn, Cordes, Yeom Soo-jung and Romeo) and 20 bishops from all over the world. Also present were the Itinerants of the Way and academics, art and culture personalities of both faiths. Pope Francis sent a message to highlight and recognize this event as a tool to strengthen the brotherhood between the two peoples. Roberto Piermarini asked Kiko Argüello, initiator of the Neocatechumenal how did this interfaith event:

R. - It 'was an idea of the rabbis of New York. Having realized that the symphony "The suffering of the innocent," at Lincoln Center, in New York, was greatly loved by the rabbis, they thought to perform it in Auschwitz, in front of the "Gate of Death", which 60 bishops from Poland, 15 000 brothers and many rabbis attended.  Rabbi Rosenbaum, a reformist, was impressed and said he did not want this relationship of love and communion with the Way to stop. He said, "A few rabbis knew what's going on in the Catholic Church with the Neocatechumenal Way: this love that you have for the Jewish people, that comes from the catechumenate of the Christian community. In the Way the deep roots of our faith are explained: Abraham, the Exodus, the story of salvation and so on. " Then he said: "Why not do a meeting at Domus, inviting more rabbis: all the rabbis of Europe and the world?". And I said: "Oh my, it's hard! But, all right! You write ". Then he and Rabbi Greenberg, who has a lot of prestige, wrote a letter of invitation to all the rabbis, for these days of May, which was signed by me, two rabbis, and Cardinal O'Malley, Cardinal Cañizares and Rabbi Rosen, who were in charge of the relationship between Catholicism and Judaism. We waited, therefore, to see what happened and the surprise was that 120 rabbis from all over the world showed up. It 'was great! They also came from several branches: Orthodox, liberal, reformists. It was 'the first time they were together, "and this - they say - it is a miracle that only the Catholics could do."

Q. - What is the mission that Jews and Christians have at this moment in history?

R. - We performed the symphony, singing "Shema Israel" together. Some were crying, really excited, because the Talmud says: "The day that Catholics, the goyim, with the Jews, will sing the Shema Israel, the Messiah comes." Therefore, They were, all impressed. Then we made a questionnaire for groups, which stirred the bishops, cardinals and rabbis. One of the questions was: "What is the saving mission of the Jewish people and the Catholic Church at this time in the world?"  We explained how the Way is opening now to Asia - China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia - and how we are carrying the Torah and the Gospel which is the light to the world to all these nations, that were under communism. They were very impressed and united. We are united in this great mission.

Q. - What has been the response of the rabbis?

R. - Fantastic! Fantastic! Rabbi Brodman, one of the most important rabbis, said: "This is an event that shows that the Messiah is coming." Then they said wonderful things: they loved the beauty of Domus Galilaeae that welcomed them ... then the songs. We danced, because these days it recurred the end of Lag Ba'omer, is a time of mourning commemorating the sacrifice of Rabbi Akiva. There is a moment, when it ends the Lag Ba'omer, in which they do a great fire in all the synagogues and dance. We did it here, dancing together: cardinals, bishops, and all rabbis. It 'was exciting! They could not believe their eyes to what was going on. It's really an historical fact. So they want to continue this relationship with us. One thing that most impressed them was the passage of the faith to new generations, because they have many problems on this. Young people, in fact, become secularized. We screened a video that explained how the passage of faith is done in the Way. They were impressed on how parents can explain to their children the Word; how they ask them: what does this Word say to you today in your life? They remained so impressed and want us to help them in this.

The director of Domus Galilaeae, the center of the Neocatechumenal Way in Galilee, Don Rino Rossi, one of the organizers of the event, explains the highlights of this historic 'meeting.

R. - Certainly the presentation hit them very much, because it was made by the itinerants of the Neocatechumenal Way of the various nations that presented to the rabbis, giving their experience - even briefly - these itinerant presented, for example, their situation of conjugates perhaps with 8, 10, 12 children ... This has created an impressive impact in the rabbis, who recalled it in their experiences. Then, of course, one thing that has struck them much was the concert of the Symphony of the Innocents  The orchestra has come here, and I have seen many rabbis cry. They were very touched. Then, another important moment was the questionnaire, where they could talk and tell their experiences, but above all there was the exchange between cardinals, bishops, the itinerant catechists and rabbis.

 Q. - There was a common prayer?

 R. - We had Vespers, led by a rabbi, Wednesday night, in all their forms, in which we participated. Then, on Thursday morning, they also wished that they could pray as Christians, and we did Lauds, presided over by Cardinal Schönborn, with psalms, with a reading of the prophet Isaiah, and Chapter 60, 1-5, with a homily made Cardinal Schönborn which was very welcome.

 Q. - At the end of the meeting what has been the reaction of the rabbis?

 R. - We received exciting experiences. A Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Brodman, started giving an experience that moved the assembly. He spoke of this meeting as a crucial meeting, of this relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish world that he never could have expected. He said: "This was my dream. I wanted - and the Lord gives me, at the end of my life - to see these things. " He cited a book by a rabbi who is very important to him; He said that we are in a time when we are experiencing "labor pains" to prepare for the arrival of the Messiah in our midst, and he's already seeing all this; Also in this meeting, he saw it as a preparation for this coming of the Messiah. Then there was another rabbi of Holland who also told his experience as a child he was saved by a Christian family. And also speaking of this meeting, he said: "I have really seen God work in our midst." Another rabbi who said: "I tell you frankly, that I realized something, listening to Kiko. I in my family, in my tradition, I never heard that God loves us ", and said with a force that moved the assembly. "I saw him here, in this house. - He said - I saw him really in the facts: how they welcomed us ... ", in the experiences that I have heard in the groups, how these couples spoke, these families, these brothers of the Neocatechumenal Way, saying with their lives, how God loved them, how he had redeemed them, saved them ... He said: "Well here, I asked my wife: 'But you, for example, have you heard from someone in your life, in the synagogue, this word, that God loves us? '". And his wife said to him: "No, I have not ever heard, ever heard!". And the rabbi said: "Me too ...".  Also the experience of Rabbi Greenberg of the United States was very moved. The environment that was created at the end you cannot describe it, really! Then, we also had very familiar times, we had dances ... there was a spirit of communion that was very strong!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

All Baptised Catholics Are Prophets

Some Christians say that Jesus was the last prophet.  The Catholic Church does not teach this at all.  Nowhere in the Holy Bible or the Catechism does it say that Christ was the last prophet. 

As a matter of fact, Acts 11:28 explicitly called Agabus a prophet in that sense.  So clearly, Jesus was not the last prophet.  Pope Francis goes even further to say that all baptized Catholics are "prophets."  We can be sure to trust Pope Francis because he is the Vicar of Christ.  According to Pope Francis: "All those who are baptized are prophets: let us not forget God's promise of moving forward."  Pope Francis says that "a church without prophets falls into the trap of clericalism."  So yes, all baptized Catholics are prophets.  That includes me, you, and even Kiko Arguello, Carmen Hernandez, and all the baptized.   


(Vatican Radio) A church without prophets falls into the trap of clericalism. These were the words of Pope Francis during his homily at Mass on Monday morning in the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta.

Commenting on the day’s readings, Pope Francis said a prophet is someone who listens to the words of God, who reads the spirit of the times, and who knows how to move forward towards the future. True prophets, the Pope said, hold within themselves three different moments: past, present, and future. They keep the promise of God alive, they see the suffering of their people, and they bring us the strength to look ahead.

God looks after his people, the Pope continued, by giving them prophets in the hardest times, in the midst of their worst suffering. But when there is no spirit of prophecy amongst the people of God, we fall into the trap of clericalism.

In the Gospel, for example, the priests ask Jesus: “With what authority do you do these things? We are the masters of the Temple!” They didn’t understand the prophecy, Pope Francis said, they had forgotten the promise. They didn’t know how to read the spirit of the times, they didn’t listen to the words of God, they had only their authority.

When there is no prophecy amongst the people of God, the emptiness that is created gets filled by clericalism. All memory of the past and hope for the future are reduced only to the present: no past promise, no future hope. But when clericalism reigns supreme, Pope Francis said, the words of God are sorely missed, and true believers weep because they cannot find the Lord.

As we prepare for the birth of the Lord, Pope Francis concluded, let us pray: “Lord, let us not lack prophets amongst your people!” All those who are baptised are prophets: let us not forget God’s promise, let us not tire of moving forward.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bashers Falsely Accused Apuron

The following was found in today's Pacific Daily News on the opinion page.  It was written by Mari Flor L. Herrero.

Concerned Catholics? Indeed, this group seems to be very concerned, but there is very little of "Catholic" about them. If they are so concerned about our Church and its people, why is it that they have not said one single word on this issue of same sex unions? As well as many other issues which are affecting our community big time, such as suicide, teen pregnancy, adultery, drug-addiction, homelessness, sexual and spousal abuse and so on.

Truly concerned Catholics should be about seeking, practicing and witnessing to the truth. Instead, this group appears to be concerned about their perceived lack of control over the archdiocese's top management, specifically its finances, and by extension their perceived lack of control over our archbishop's actions and decisions.

Thus, they do not hesitate to spread rumors and consistently bash our archbishop. They should change their name to "Archbishop-Bashers."

I still find it hard to understand why, from day one, these archbishop-bashers have been harping on the seminary property. Do they have a hidden agenda? Is it they want to transform it into a casino? It may seem a preposterous claim, but recall that one of the original parties interested in buying the property is a strong promoter for casinos.

Now they are spreading the silly lie that the archbishop handed the seminary to the Neocatechumenal Way. Why silly? Because the archbishop cannot alienate anything that is not his own; the Redemptoris Mater belongs to the Archdiocese.

This alienation, besides, cannot ever happen because the Neocatechumenal Way cannot, by virtue of its statutes, own property. These statutes are untouchable because the pope himself approved them.
However, I have been informed that the archdiocese, to dispel all these gossips, decided to conduct an independent, tri-prong investigation.

First, an ownership report. One of the most experienced title and escrow companies in Guam, the Pacific American Title, was asked to conduct a study. They did. This was their conclusion: The owner of the lots on which the seminary sits, belongs to the archbishop of Agana. Period. No transfer has ever occurred. So, the Concerned Catholics are wrong. Again.

Then, a civil law report. The archdiocese contacted the most prestigious law firm in the whole United States, the expert in civil-religious issues related to corporation soles. Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP in Denver, Colorado, was asked to give a legal opinion on the archbishop's powers, as sole member of the seminary. Their conclusions were that the archbishop of Agana retains substantial authority over Redemptoris Mater, as the archbishop is the sole member of the entity under civil incorporation laws.
They even added, "The method used by the archbishop under civil law of conveying beneficial use of the property to Redemptoris Mater while retaining legal title to the property within the Archdiocese of Agana is:

"a. consistent with canon law prescribed structures;
"b. is consistent with civil law methods widely used by numerous Catholic dioceses in the United States both historically and currently;
"c. and is a necessary civil law structure to reflect and enforce the archbishop's powers of jurisdiction over Redemptoris Mater under the Code of Canon Law.

"Absent the express approval of the archbishop of Agana, neither Redemptoris Mater nor any governing board or other person affiliated with such entity has the civil power or authority to cause the transfer or sale of the property."

Their final words are so explicit. "For those lawyers who regularly practice this specialized area of religious institutions law, including the intersection of canon and secular law, the conclusion reached here that the archbishop is in control of the property would not be at all controversial."
The Archdiocese asked for a further appraisal, this time from the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts at the Vatican. This council is the highest authority in the Catholic Church in these matters.

Their pronouncement again pushed overboard these false accusations of the archbishop-bashers. In fact, the council concluded that "based on what has been said, it seems ... devoid of truth to speak of sale or alienation of a diocesan patrimony in this context." It is also clear that the present assignment of this patrimony to the seminary does not make it "a real alienation because, the owner remains the same, namely the diocese or the archbishop."
What is then the truth? Simple: The property is still safe and secure in the hands of the archdiocese. "All rumors, opinions and writings contrary to the aforesaid documents just show slanderous intentions aiming to disturb the communion of the people of God with grave moral responsibility of the authors."

Regrettably, as Mark Twain wrote, "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

These three reports are available to the public at the Chancery Office in Hagåtña (San Ramon Hill).

Mari Flor L. Herrero is president of Lorea Industries

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Kiko Arguello has written a book entitled Kerygma, which clears up many of the misconceptions of the Way.  Below is a review of one person who had read the book. 


The Way's founder, Kiko Arguello, has written a book that is dramatic, intense, and deeply personal.
I have just finished reading The Kerygma, by Kiko Arguello, published by Ignatius and distributed in the UK by Gracewing. For those who haven’t heard of this author, he is the founder, along with Carmel Hernandez, of the Neocatechumenal Way, one of the largest of the new movements in the Church. I am very glad I have read Kiko’s book as it has cleared up some misconceptions I had about the Way, as it is often referred to: that it operates within the Church like a cult and is divisive within the parish setting. Rather, what the Way offers is a wholehearted commitment to the Gospels. Indeed, the word “Kerygma”, chosen as the title of the book, means to announce the Good News of Christ – in a manner that keeps it permanently alive in the lives and hearts of its members.

Kiko Arguello was a young, successful Spanish artist in Spain in the early 1960s who had lapsed from his childhood faith but who was desperate to find a spiritual meaning to life. He writes, “I couldn’t be indifferent as to whether God exists or not, it was a matter of life and death.” He briefly flirted with Marxism; disillusioned by its lack of a spiritual vision he did what traditionally the saints have often done: he decided to live in a notorious shantytown, a “descent into hell”, where he daily experienced the seemingly intractable problems of the poor: violence, alcoholism, disease and despair. He took with him his guitar and a Bible and slept on a mattress on the dirt floor of a shack. The question that consumed him was: how did the early apostles spread the Gospels? How could he preach effectively to people living in such degradation?

A meeting with Carmen, a lay missionary who was also drawn to living among the poor led to the founding of the Way. They based it on three things: the word of God, the Eucharist and the Christian community. They both felt that the usual parish structure that had developed over centuries was not adequate as a “school for Christians” – especially the outcasts, gypsies, tramps and slum dwellers who did not fit into normal society.

They realised you cannot evangelise others without personal conversion. This required proper formation in the faith as well as ongoing catechesis, regular prayer, study and Bible reading. The idea of the “Christian community” was born. Its purpose: the evangelisation of those far from the Church, modern secular men and women whom the parish structure could not reach. Members of the Way recognise the need to form Christian communities of love, for it is only through love that others will be drawn to the listen to the “Kerygma” and be transformed by it.

 Kiko’s book is not a detailed, chronological history of this new movement; he doesn’t include a description of its development around the world or its numbers, though he does mention casually that 300,000 young members attended the World Youth Day in Madrid and that the Way is – amazingly – preparing to send thousands of priests to China. His writing is dramatic, intense, deeply personal and poured out from the heart; the story of how one man allowed the Holy Spirit to work within him and thus do extraordinary things. I do recommend it.

One of the key aspects of the Way is members’ sense of mission. Being a Christian, they believe, is never a matter of private, weekly devotion; it is always outgoing, evangelical and bound up with renewal and conversion. Only at the end of the book did I get a glimpse of the problems such a vivid and total form of Christian discipleship might pose in your average parish. Kiko comments, that “We have been persecuted and expelled from many parishes. Sometimes the Way is misunderstood and confused with a sect”. He doesn’t explain this further.

Having read the book I was curious to find out from an actual member of the Neocatchumenal Way how it impacts on one’s life. Elizabeth Flynn is a longstanding member of a London community. She tells me that as a young adult Catholic she spent some years among Evangelicals, drawn to their warmth and fellowship. She was attracted to their uninhibited way of talking about a personal relationship with Jesus and their enthusiasm for conversion. But she knew they lacked authority and eventually she joined Crux, a small Catholic study-group. But it still “wasn’t quite what I was looking for”. Finally she went along to a community of the Way that was meeting in the parish of St Charles Borromeo. “From the very first evening I knew I was in the right place” she tells me. That was in 1993.

At every session she attended she heard something new “that drew me further on.” She emphasises that they are clear about Church authority and completely obedient to the Church’s magisterial teaching. “The way they preach makes the Bible come alive” she feels, and that she has come to a much closer knowledge and love of God through the Scriptures, as a result of membership.
Elizabeth believes that joining the Neocatechumenal Way has changed her life in every way. “Life is full and rich and even suffering makes sense” she says. She also has “a much deeper relationship with God than I could ever have imagined possible.” She adds that she is much more confident about “putting my head above the parapet and letting people know I’m a Christian.” She thinks the kind of Christian formation and support she receives simply isn’t available in the wider parish. She tells me the Way is also largely successful in keeping teenagers and young people within the Faith. It encourages large families because “the teaching is uncompromisingly open to life.” There are many vocations and thus a hugely expanding number of seminaries worldwide.

I ask her the question about what seems to be the source of much discontent: why do they celebrate their own liturgy? Elizabeth says that they participate in the parish liturgy but also have their own mid-week liturgy, so that members of the community who have undergone catechesis together can deepen their bonds with each other in their continuing journey of faith. It gives them “the opportunity to share, after the Bible readings, what God is saying to them through his Word. This needs to be done within the enclosed group so that privacy can be maintained.”

She is clear that they do not want to be a special group within the parish and that they try to blend in. She sums it up: “We’re Catholics living the faith, radically, in the parish.” It strikes me that this might be enough to make other parishioners, who are less zealous or committed, feel challenged and disturbed. But I also have the uncomfortable feeling that this is actually what God demands of all of us. After all, wasn’t Jesus radical? And aren’t his teachings still radical and uncompromising today – for those who have ears to hear?