Neocats in Kelmscott – Update 2

Update from the Good Shepherd Parish in Kelmscott

Father B.O’Loughlin
Vicar General
St Mary’s Cathedral
25 Victoria Square

Dear Father

I am writing on behalf of some of the concerned parishioners of the Good Shepherd Parish of Kelmscott.

Four years ago, when the Salesian priests left Kelmscott, we were sent 2 priests from the Redemptoris Mater Seminary. We had never heard of them before and at that time did not realise that they were from the Neocatechumenal Order. They did not announce themselves or tell parishioners about their Way or of their intentions for the parish. Believe me; we have nothing against the Neocatechumenal Way, as they are one of several orders within the Catholic Church. What we are saddened and disappointed in is the clandestine manner in which they have set foot and since operated within the parish. We have always associated Honesty, Integrity, Openness and Communication as the apex of the Catholic Church. The tactics, secrecy and deceit which have manifested their modus operandi have simply shaken us.

They began in the first year, to mingle with the parishioners, even asking to be invited to people’s homes. They participated in lunches, dinners and attended birthdays and anniversaries etc. Now it appears that this was a strategy to identify those whom they felt might be possible recruits for their Way. This was also used to identify ‘Responsibles’ (Leaders) for the future operation of their services in the parish.

Then came the ‘First Deceit’. We were asked to participate in an Adult Catechesis. We were told that this would result in life changing moments. We thought this was more about building on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and a strengthening of our faith. The sessions were introduced as if though the Catechists were in fact sent by the Bishop to the parish. We believed and attended. No questions were allowed and no note taking permitted. We were betrayed when we eventually discovered that this was in fact a recruitment process for the Neocatechumenal Way. People were not informed about what this Way was about and of the requirement to attend all the talks and the two day convivance so as to ‘qualify’ to attend future services back at the parish.

Co-incidentally, at the two day convivance, the same people whom the priests had approached prior to this were duly elected? As leaders (Responsibles). And, we are expected to view this as honesty and truth?

There is so much more that I can write on this entire debacle but shall refrain in the interests of trying to keep this brief.

I guess the most disturbing aspect of all (apart from the aforementioned secrecy etc) is the ‘Little by Little’ approach they operate by where they try and get as many parishioners as possible to change their way of worship. So many things that we used to be able to do in the Church was soon discouraged or not permitted.

Today, there is Division and Disharmony in the parish. Those who follow the Neocatechumenal Way look down on us as they have the blessings of the parish priest. They walk past and do not talk to us and as such we reciprocate accordingly.

There are only about 5% of parishioners who have been ‘Hooked’ by the priest-in-charge, Fr Melvin Llabanes, who gives most of his time to this Way.

For 3 years, Father Melvin had not informed parishioners about the services that were going on in the parish hall. He at no time mentioned his plans for the parish. We approached him to do so but he quite provocatively told us where to go. So, we put out some information which we had asked him to peruse and then meet with us. He refused and we went ahead.

This resulted in him attacking us from the pulpit and lying to parishioners about what really happened.

It is so hypocritical to hear him go on and on about Forgiveness, Humility and the like during his agonisingly long homilies. It is ironical that this is the Good Shepherd Parish as I can tell you; we are yet to witness the role modelling of such.

We have read about how the Good Shepherd should he lose one sheep, leaves the other 99 to search for and bring back the lost one. Well, there are many sheep that have left the parish because of the parish priest and yet he cares not a bit. His prime objective is the continuance of the Way at any cost.

So today, we have a parish within a parish with Father Melvin being our visiting priest.

We have on several occasions tried to talk with him so as to heal the situation but he point blank will not entertain this. In fact, he does not talk to those of us whom he considers as troublemakers and traditional Catholics who will not change.

At the end of the day, I am sure you will agree that in any given parish, the role of the parish priest is to bring peace and harmony. To role model and to proactively work towards one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Here we have the opposite. He is the cause of the situation that exists.

He has spread (among his followers) that we are against them. He is ever so arrogant, stubborn, deceitful, secretive, sneaky and cunning in his disposition.

Father, please hear us as we plead with you to send us one non Neocatechumenal Way priest to look after the 95% of the parishioners who do not belong to the Way. It is obvious that Father Melvin is simply performing the Rites of the Mass but his heart and soul is not in it. We too are uneasy and find it so disheartening to have to celebrate the Holy Mass under these conditions.

In the past 4 months the priest-in-charge has been away for some time but none of the mainstream parishioners were told about it. Needless to say the Neocatechumenal followers were well informed.

Many parishioners have left the parish and as long as Father Melvin is still here the Division and Disharmony will fester. As such, we plead again with you to think of us and send us a mainstream priest. I am sure you will agree that this is a reasonable request.

Thank you for giving us your time to read this plea.

Yours in Christ
Maurice H

Copies to:
Archbishop B.Hickey
Bishop D.Sproxton
Monseigneur M.Keating
Father Peter Bianchini
Father Christopher Ross

[CM October 2012 – After a little over a year, members of the St Vincent’s community have not found Fr Melvin to be their ideal priest, but he is making a consistent and concerted effort to bring harmony to a fractured parish.]

Archbishop Barry Hickey
St Mary’s Cathedral

Your Excellency

I am writing to you concerning the coming Easter Vigil celebration at the Good Shepherd Parish in Kelmscott.

For the past two years, despite protestation the Parish priest has insisted on including parts of the Neocatechumen service in the Mass. This has led to reduced numbers attending.

While I understand that this may be ‘sanctioned’, it is this attitude and stubbornness that further enflames the situation within the parish.

Along with others, we hope that this year we may be able to celebrate the Easter Vigil in a manner that is prevalent in the majority of churches where the ‘Mainstream’ way is concluded.

The Neocatechumen Eucharist ( as you know) is celebrated in the parish hall from around 11pm to 5am.Do you not think that it is not reasonable to ask that those parishioners who do not follow the Neocatechumen Way be allowed the privilege to celebrate and enjoy the Easter Vigil in the ‘Traditional’ manner.

I pray that you are able to ensure that our request be granted.

Yours in Christ
Kathleen R

Archbishop Barry Hickey
St Mary’s Cathedral

Your Excellency

I wrote to you on 17 March 2005, concerning the Easter Vigil celebration and the hope that we would be able to participate in the mainstream Catholic manner.

I had intended to give you some feedback but circumstances have prevented me from doing so until now.

While I am grateful that the Mass was in the main celebrated in accordance with our hopes, I am sorry to state that there were still intrusions of the Neocatechumen Way, particularly during the Preface and Eucharistic Prayer. I guess this simply highlights the provocative, stubborn and defiant attitude that we have had to put up with for quite some time. When one considers that there was a Neocatechumen service later that night in the parish community hall, why deny us of what we feel we need. This furthers us from reconciliation.

Anyhow, we are left with no option but to continue our struggle, as it would appear that our pleas are being ignored.

Yours in Christ
Kathleen R

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