Neocatechumenal Way

“Faith is a journey and a way of life. In the old Church, the catechumenate was created as a habitat against an increasingly demoralized culture, in which the distinctive and fresh aspects of the Christian way of life were practiced and at the same time protected from the common way of life. I think that even today something like catechumenal communities are necessary so that Christian life can assert itself in its own way (POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI, “The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse,” April 10, 2019);

“Share with others the gift you received, the encounter of love that has changed your life […] And you have it in your ‘DNA,’ this vocation to proclaim by living as family, after the example of the Holy Family: in humility, simplicity and praise. You carry this familiar atmosphere in many places that are desolate and devoid of love […] Dear brothers and sisters, your charism is a great gift of God for the Church of our time […] I accompany and encourage you: Go forth!” (POPE FRANCIS, Speech on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Neocatechumenal Way in Rome, Tor Vergata, May 5, 2018);

“I would like to stress the need for a ‘new catechumenate’” (POPE FRANCIS, Address to the Officials of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota for the Inauguration of the Judicial Year, Jan. 21, 2017);

“It is a historic moment for this great community that has, throughout the years, proclaimed with joy and courage the Resurrection of Christ, the Risen One […] The development of the Neocatechumenal Way, rooted in the Gospel and in the catechetical Tradition of the Church, has given wonderful fruits: personal conversion, journey in small Christian communities, permanent catechesis, priority to the family, priestly formation, and the founding of three Redemptoris Mater seminaries in Canada. I give thanks to God for your distinguished contribution to the Church in Canada, especially in the New Evangelization and in the transmission of our Christian faith” (GÉRALD C. CARDINAL LACROIX, Message for the 40th Anniversary of the Presence of the Neocatechumenal Way in Canada, Québec 2016);

“For more than 40 years the Neocatechumenal Way has been contributing to the revival and consolidation of Christian Initiation in dioceses and parishes, encouraging a gradual and radical rediscovery of the riches of Baptism and helping people to savour divine life […] This gift of God to his Church puts itself ‘at the service of the Bishop as one of the forms of diocesan implementation of Christian Initiation and of ongoing education in faith’ (Statute, art. 1, §2)” (BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Members of the Neocatechumenal Way, Jan. 17, 2011);

“Furthermore, as was brought out during the Synod sessions, it is good that pastoral activity also favor the growth of small communities, ‘formed by families or based in parishes or linked to the different ecclesial movements and new communities’, which can help to promote formation, prayer and knowledge of the Bible in accordance with the Church’s faith” (BENEDICT XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini to the Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, Sept. 30, 2010, § 73);

“Long live the Way! America needs you! May your witness of fervor for the Gospel and for the catechetical renewal reawaken all Christian communities, whether parochial or other, and may it help to renew with strength a genuine formation to Christian life” (MARC CARDINAL OUELLET, Thanksgiving Mass for the Approbation of the Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, Jun. 22, 2003);

“In his Apostolic Letter of 1971, Octogesima adveniens, Pope Paul VI noted how increasing and irreversible urbanization is a great challenge to human wisdom, imagination and powers of organization (n. 10). He emphasized how urbanization in an industrial society upsets traditional ways and structures of life, producing for people ‘a new loneliness … in an anonymous crowd … in which they feel themselves strangers’ (Ibid.) […] There arises a culture of discrimination and indifference, ‘lending itself to new forms of exploitation and domination’ which deeply undermine human dignity. This is not the whole truth of the modern megalopolis but it is a crucial part of it, and it presents the Church, especially her Pastors, with a pressing and inescapable challenge […] The Synod Fathers were not vague when advocating a new urban evangelization: they also specified elements of the pastoral strategy which it requires. They spoke of the need for ‘a methodical and far-reaching urban evangelization through catechesis, liturgy and the very way in which pastoral structures are organized’ (Ecclesia in America, n. 21). Here we have three quite precise indications: catechesis, liturgy and the organization of pastoral structures – indications which are radically linked to the threefold ministry of a Bishop to teach, to sanctify and to govern […] All three factors look towards a fresh and more profound experience of community in Christ, which is the only effective and enduring response to a culture of rootlessness, anonymity and inequality […] the parish needs to be adapted to meet rapidly changing circumstances […] The anonymity of the city cannot be allowed to enter our Eucharistic communities. New ways and structures must be found to build bridges between people, so that there really is that experience of mutual acceptance and closeness which Christian fellowship requires. It may be that this, and the catechesis which must accompany it, would be better done in smaller communities: as the Post-Synodal Exhortation puts it, ‘one way of renewing parishes, especially urgent for parishes in larger cities, might be to consider the parish as a community of communities’ (Ecclesia in America, n. 41)” (JOHN PAUL II, Address of His Holiness John Paul II to the Bishops of Ontario, Canada, on their Ad Limina Visit, May 04, 1999, §§ 3-5);

“2. The thirty-year period between the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council and the threshold of the third millennium is without doubt most providential for the orientation and promotion of catechesis. It has been a time in which the evangelizing vigour of the original ecclesial community has in some ways re-emerged. It has also seen a renewal of interest in the teaching of the Fathers and has made possible a return to the catechumenate […] 59. […] ‘The model for all catechesis is the baptismal catechumenate when, by specific formation, an adult converted to belief is brought to explicit profession of baptismal faith during the Paschal Vigil’. This catechumenal formation should inspire the other forms of catechesis in both their objectives and in their dynamism” (CONGREGATION FOR THE CLERGY, General Directory for Catechesis, Aug. 11, 1997);

“How many millions of peoples, throughout the whole world, have completely lost contact with the divinity within themselves and have clouded the image with which they were created! […] God is calling millions of persons. Let me hear their voices which don’t have an answer. Included in these voices are those of baptized Catholics who do not have a complete comprehension of their faith, who in the best cases, remain on a purely superficial level, and in the worst, they are completely alienated. Therefore, faced with these circumstances, it seems to me that God has given us the gift of the Neocatechumenate in order to be able to help these millions of peoples recuperate their true values, their true personalities” (JOHN J. CARDINAL O’CONNOR, Homily at the Gathering of 253 Bishops of the Americas with the Neocatechumenal Way, New York, Apr. 5, 1997);

“After 15 years, my evaluation of the Neocatechumenal Way is highly positive […] Firstly: I believe that in today’s pastoral work, it is fundamental to give importance to the ministry of the Word […] Secondly: I have seen in the Neocatechumenal Way a serious process of conversion and catechesis […] Then I have seen, of course, the dignity of the liturgy […] Not to mention the rebuilding of the family, the openness to life […] Another thing that I have seen: the detachment from goods and generosity. Until conversion reaches the wallet, I remain very skeptical about it […] Finally, in parishes where the Neocatechumenal Way is present one can perceive a lifestyle of simplicity, of joy, of obedience, of faithfulness to the Church. And the last fruit for which we all give thanks to God is the flowering of vocations and this truly edifies us all” (NICOLÁS DE JESÚS CARDINAL LÓPEZ RODRÍGUEZ, Testimony given at the Gathering of 253 Bishops of the Americas with the Neocatechumenal Way, New York, Apr. 5, 1997);

Certainly, at present, Christianity is suffering an enormous loss of meaning, and the form in which the Church is present is also changing. The Christian society that has existed until now is very obviously crumbling […] Christianity will offer models of life in new ways and will once again present itself in the wasteland of technological existence as a place of true humanity. That is already happening now. I mean, one can always raise objections to individual movements such as the Neocatechumens or the Focolarini, but whatever else you may say, we can observe innovative things emerging there. In these movements, Christianity is present as an experience of newness and is suddenly felt by people – who often come from very far outside – as a chance to live in this century […] No one can be a Christian alone; being a Christian means a communion of wayfarers […] For this reason, it must be the Church’s concern to create pilgrim communities. The social culture of Europe and America no longer offers these wayfaring communities […] The mere social environment is no longer sufficient today; we can no longer take for granted a universal Christian atmosphere. Christians must therefore really support one another. And here there are, in fact, already other forms, ‘movements’ of various kinds, which help to form pilgrim communities. A renewal of the catechumenate is indispensable. This makes it possible to receive training in and knowledge of Christianity […] In other words, if society in its totality is no longer a Christian environment, just as it was not in the first four or five centuries, the Church herself must form cells in which mutual support and a common journey, and thus the great vital milieu of the Church in miniature, can be experienced and put into practice (JOSEPH CARDINAL RATZINGER, Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium. An Interview with Peter Seewald, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997, 126-27, 264-65);

“The Neocatechumenal itinerary […] can be a precious resource for building up a parish capable of forming adults who are firmly rooted in Christ, in his word and his mysteries […] It will effectively contribute to imprinting on parishes the typical style of the New Evangelization: a style marked by what is essential and radical, immersed in the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, and courageously open to the needs of the modern man” (JOHN PAUL II, Speech to the Cardinals and Bishops of the African Continent, Jan. 17, 1994);

“The Neocatechumenal Way […] is able to respond to the challenges of secularism, the diffusion of sects and the shortage of vocations. The reflection upon the word of God and the participation in the Eucharist make possible a gradual initiation into the sacred mysteries, to form living cells of the Church and renew the vitality of the Parish by means of mature Christians capable of bearing witness to the truth through a radically lived faith” (JOHN PAUL II, Epistle to European Bishops, Vienna, April 12, 1993);

“I can’t omit noting, with profound joy, that your concern for evangelization pushes you primarily toward the family. Especially in our day, doesn’t the family need to be evangelized anew to rediscover its function as the primary cell in the Christian community, a domestic Church, within which it is possible to live the primordial experience of the encounter with God?” (JOHN PAUL II, Speech to the Neocatechumenal Communities, Jan. 3, 1991, § 2);

“As Bishop of Rome, in the Roman parishes, I have had many meetings with the Neocatechumenal Communities and with their Pastors, and, during my apostolic journeys to many nations, I too have been able to note the abundant fruits of personal conversion and missionary zeal […] I recognize the Neocatechumenal Way as an effective means of Catholic formation, valid for society and for the present time. And so I hope that, with their brothers in the priesthood, my Brothers in the Episcopate will appreciate and assist this work for the new evangelization – along with their priests – so that it may develop along the guidelines proposed by the initiators, in a spirit of service to the local ordinary and of communion with him, and within the unity of the particular Church with the universal Church” (JOHN PAUL II, Epistle Ogni Qualvolta, Aug. 30, 1990);

“This is how I see the origins of the Neo-catechumenate, of its Way. Someone – I don’t know whether it was Kiko or someone else – must have asked himself: ‘Where did the strength of the early Church come from?’ And ‘Where does the weakness of today’s Church – a Church with much greater numbers – come from?’ I believe that he found the answer in the Catechumenate, in this Way […] There is a way, I think, to rebuild the Parish on the basis of the Neocatechumenal experience. Naturally, this method cannot be imposed on everybody; but, there are many candidates, so why not? This is authentic and consistent with the very nature of the Parish, because just as each one of us, Christian, grows from Baptism, so does the Christian community grows naturally from Baptism […] The parish can then grow authentically from the experience and on the basis of the Neocatechumenal experience; it would be like the renewal of the early community, which grew out of the catechumenal experience” (JOHN PAUL II, Pastoral Visit to St. Maria Goretti Parish, Rome, Jan. 31, 1988);

“Situated and at work within the particular Church or diocese is the Parish which has the essential task of a more personal and immediate formation of the lay faithful. In fact, because it is in the position to reach more easily individual persons and singular groups, the parish is called to instruct its members in hearing God’s Word, in liturgical and personal dialogue with God, in the life of fraternal charity, and in allowing a more direct and concrete perception of the sense of ecclesial communion and responsibility in the Church’s mission. Internal to the parish, especially if vast and territorially extensive, small Church communities, where present, can be a notable help in the formation of Christians, by providing a consciousness and an experience of ecclesial communion and mission which are more extensive and incisive. The Synod Fathers have said that a post-baptismal catechesis in the form of a catechumenate can also be helpful by presenting again some elements from the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults with the purpose of allowing a person to grasp and live the immense, extraordinary richness and responsibility received at Baptism” (JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici on the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World, Rome, Dec. 30, 1988, § 61);

“Let the presbyters, conscious of their mission of reconciling all men in the love of Christ and attentive to the dangers of schisms, put every interest, with much prudence and pastoral charity, into the formation of communities animated by apostolic zeal, which may make present everywhere the missionary Spirit of the Church. These small communities, which do not oppose the parochial or diocesan structure, must be inserted into a parochial or diocesan community in order to be like the leaven of the missionary spirit among them…” (Enchiridion Vaticanum, Bologna, 1985, vol. IV, p. 778, § 1190);

“I believe that the parish priest, like all priests, must always be one of us; and he is […] But I say he must be in love […] It seems to me that, through your community, he is in love with the whole of his Parish. The Parish is bigger than your community, but Jesus has made it so. He has spoken to us of leaven, of leaven of the whole. The leaven is always only a part, something small, the mass is the mass but needs the leaven […] I desire that you continue like this in this Parish, being leaven, continue being leaven” (JOHN PAUL II, Pastoral visit to Immaculate Conception Parish, Rome, March 7, 1982);

“The catechumens of the first centuries were a very important reality in the Church: I believe that what they did for the faith in those days, the Neocatechumenal Communities are doing today” (JOHN PAUL II, Pastoral Visit to St. Timothy Parish, Feb. 10, 1980);

“Saint Augustine mentions this: ‘What shall we do if we cannot have the catechumenate beforehand? We may carry it out afterwards’ […] This is the secret of your formula, which provides religious assistance, a practical training in Christian faithfulness, and effectively integrates the baptized into the community of believers which is the Church […] Many people are attracted to these Neocatechumenal Communities, because they see that there is a sincerity, a truth in them, something alive and authentic, Christ living in the world. Let this happen with our apostolic blessing” (PAUL VI, General Audience, Jan. 12, 1977);

“What joy you give us with your presence and with your work! […] the period of preparation to Baptism. You bring it afterwards: before or after, I would say, is secondary. The fact is that you aim at the authenticity, fullness, coherence, and sincerity of the Christian life. This is a work of great merit, I repeat it, which deeply consoles us” (PAUL VI, General Audience, May 08, 1974);

“Where infant Baptism has become the form in which this sacrament is usually celebrated, it has become a single act encapsulating the preparatory stages of Christian initiation in a very abridged way. By its very nature infant Baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth. The catechism has its proper place here” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1231);

“The nature of the Neocatechumenal Way is defined by His Holiness John Paul II when he writes: ‘I recognize the Neocatechumenal Way as an itinerary of Catholic formation, valid for our society and for our times’. The Neocatechumenal Way is at the service of the Bishops as a form of diocesan implementation of Christian initiation and of ongoing education in faith, in accordance with the indications of the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of the Church” (Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, art. 1, §§ 1-2);

“The Neocatechumenal Way contributes to the parish renewal hoped for by the Magisterium of the Church: to foster ‘new methods and structures’, which avoid anonymity and massive numbers, and to consider ‘the parish as a community of communities,’ which makes ‘the parish community decentralized and articulated’” (Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, art. 23, § 1).