As a priest, I worked from the beginning of 1994 to the end of 1996, in a parish in western Melbourne, where the Neo-Catechumenate had been asked to leave my predecessor because of a whole range of painful issues that had divided the parish community, caused heartache to so many and resulted in those entrusted with the leadership of the parish being “snubbed” by the Neo-Catechumenate as if they were a higher authority.
One would think that all had ended prior to my arrival in the parish in 1994 but far from it! Persistence and pressure from certain individuals of the Neo-Catechumenate for me to re-admit them to the parish community almost drove me to despair.
All sorts of promises were made, such as “Father, you will never have any financial worries once we are back in the parish”, “we will do anything that you ask” and once absurd comment (due to my refusing to re-admit them back into the parish, “Father, how will you look God in the face when your judgement day comes!” And so it was that this sort of garbage and guilt was pushed by various members of the Neo-Catechumenate who were determined to ‘get back’ into the parish.
Fortunately, due to a wise old priest living in the community, and the encouragement of the other Parish Team members, we were able to resist their pressures.
There is so much that shows us, through local experiences (Australia) and overseas (UK and Wales), that sadly the Neo-catechumenate movement has caused more pain and division than unity or peace. They also seem answerable to no one, think of themselves as “the only way” and have no regard for the local parish community let alone the local parish priest.
Each one of you at Redfern, have the right to be listened to and to be allowed to have a say in the direction of your parish community, despite what these others (with power and money) might think.
Don’t give up in your struggle
John G (Tasmania)