About three years ago, the last of the Salesians left the Good Shepherd Parish and were replaced by a couple of ‘new priests’ in Fr Pele and Fr Daniel. They in turn were soon replaced by Frs Melvyn and Dennis. These priests technically belong to the Diocese but in fact are Neocatechumen priests.
All seemed well as they initially endeared themselves to parishioners with their energy, friendliness and enthusiasm. The parish appeared to be coming alive with organised family days etc.
Then one day parishioners were asked to attend an Adult Catechesis which they were told would prove to be life-changing – their faith would increase and the struggles of everyday life become easier to manage. Those who completed the course were further persuaded to attend a two day ‘Convivence’ (meeting) away from the parish.
The Neo-Catechumen Way of worship was created by a Spanish artist/guitarist named Kiko Arguello in 1964. It purports to attract lapsed Catholics back to the church, along with unbelievers and those who may wish to strengthen their faith. Its intention is to change the Parish into what Kiko calls Communities, with up to 50 people in each. To become part of a Community one must attend the Talks (15 in total) and then the two day Convivence. Those unable to do so are not permitted to (later) join an existing Community.
No one was told told that this was a means to recruit parishioners for the Neo-Catechumen Way. In fact people are not told anything about the priests’ plans to bring the NeoCatechumen Way into the parish – calculated behaviour which in simple English is called deceit. The secrecy is such that most parishioners today still remain unaware of its presence in the parish. The Neocatechumenal services are held on Wednesday and Saturday evenings in the Church hall behind closed doors; the use of the hall by other parishioners is no longer permitted. Only now that legitimate concerns are being raised are the priests starting to mention their Way, insisting that the Pope and Bishop have given it the all clear.
While all this has been going on for the last two years, disturbing changes and restrictions have been imposed on the traditional forms of faith expression to which we believe we are entitled. If something does not have a Neo-Catechumen influence it is discouraged or not permitted.
Attempts to talk matters over with the parish priest have met with the defiant response ”Go see the Bishop”. Well, we have seen the Bishop, and he was concerned with some of the issues raised.
Meanwhile the priests have embarked on a verbal attack against parishioners they believe are not supporting the Neocat Way, using the pulpit, Church Bulletin or Notice Board at every opportunity. Amongst other things the priests have falsely claimed that they have been threatened with assault; there is a petition to remove them from the parish; flyers are being distributed at shopping centres; and acolytes have told sick parishioners not to accept Communion from them.
We do not enjoy seeing what is happening to our parish, which is now divided and in disharmony. We are concerned about the stealthy infiltration tactics used by these priests to "Little by Little" (their favourite catch cry) convert the parish to the Way.
We hope you understand our cause and purpose. We are trying to act in the interests of what we believe are the wishes of the majority of parishioners, to preserve our parish as it is and to be allowed to worship in the manner to which we are entitled, in keeping with the Traditional Catholic Church.
[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.]