[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.]
The Neocats have had 3 intakes resulting in a total of around 25 recruits out of 400 parishioners. Some of the 25 are from outside the parish. Two or three families make up the bulk of their followers or worshippers.
The following letter was emailed to the Bishops; we hope you can post it on the website.
I write this with restraint (on behalf of some concerned parishioners) only as a mark of respect for the positions you hold in the Catholic Church. As a Catholic along with many others who attended the Neocatechumen talk on Tuesday 28 September 2004, we feel let down, saddened and disappointed. The Integrity, Truth, Honesty, Openness and Dialogue that I have always associated with the Catholic Church and its leaders have yet again taken a beating.
After the personal meeting with Bishop Sproxton and the collection of letters sent to you by some parishioners, we (at least) hoped for the courtesy of a response to the concerns raised in the aforementioned. What we have got in return appears to be a deliberate strategy to not address these concerns and simply (in a typically politically way) work around this by not giving direct answers.
Anyhow, that man Shakespeare was a clever fellow in telling us that it was such a tangled web we weave when first we venture to deceive.
It is now fully apparent that the introduction of the Neocatechumen way was well planned at your level and the parish priest placed in the parish to implement the same. It is now also confirmed that his defiance and provocative nature is because of the implicit confidence he has in your support as he has come to carry out your desire to replicate the movement which you have installed in the Mirrabooka parish. Even at evenings end last Tuesday he carried on in a manner which once again demonstrates the petulance and immaturity he excels in, by clapping as he walked up and down the hall. A fine example of this Neocatechumen way, I must say.
We do hope that Bishop Sproxton although reluctant to publicly acknowledge the whole debacle, would have at least inwardly accepted that the methodology and behaviour of the parish priest is a cause for concern. This was never more evident in His Grace’s statement that the Neocatechumen way is introduced into a parish at the invitation of the parish priest, after the parish priest has consulted with the parishioners, through the parish council and other bodies/people. After being told that this had not occurred, there was an immediate back-flip with the statement that this was not obligatory and that the parish priest could act without the aforementioned. Well, I’ll leave this one with you to ponder over. No doubt you can assume what we think of this. This simply exemplifies the entire plan and strategy to introduce the way to the Good Shepherd Parish. Here we have a ‘new’ parish priest (who does not possess the basic requirements of effective communication and struts around with the constant comment "I am the parish priest" when brought to task on matters), who simply brings something in under the disguise of attending an Adult Catechesis. And, we are expected to respect the Catholic ethos??
As mentioned several times and as demonstrated at the talk it was plainly evident that today there is Division, Disunity, Disharmony and Mis-trust in the parish on an unprecedented scale. We hope that you are happy with your achieving the introduction of this way at the expense of what we have in the parish today. Several parishioners have left the parish and Mass attendance is a challenge as we encounter the pulpit bashings from the parish priest.
At this stage I may mention that our struggle will go on. In fact we feel much more determined to expose the manner and behaviour of this sorry saga. This is not a threat but simply the result of what we feel. It is obvious that the establishment of the way is the prime purpose of an overall scheme to establish this in as many parishes as possible. This could be further strengthened by referring to the Kelmscott parish as yet another one to embrace the way.
As I mentioned earlier, the tactics used in establishing a Neocatechumen follower as a parish priest and then the gradual implementation and secretive methodology underpinned with the ‘Little by Little’ motto is something one would associate with a dishonest person or establishment.
From your reluctance to acknowledge the concerns we have raised it is confirmation that you intend to ignore these concerns and press on regardless. Even Bishop Sproxton’s letter to the parish priest points out that some traditional Catholics will feel threatened by the way. Why assume/accuse us of being threatened?
Pray! Can the good Bishop tell us what else is being or has been done in the parish since the Way has been set up?
In the enthusiasm to set up the way, the 98% of other parishioners seem not to exist. Even the use of the Parish hall was off limits until your recent letters to some parishioners. In this sorry tale it is evident that neither you nor the parish priest has endeavoured to soothe the waters by firstly finding out what the actual concerns were. This could have been done by sitting collectively around a table and openly and maturely discussing the same. Instead we have been told by our parish priest to "Go see the Bishop" whenever approached. We have had to endure pulpit bashings (even by a visiting priest from Redfern) lies and accusations from the parish priest and a rather defiant, I don’t really care attitude.
Added to this is the fact that the parish priest has told several people that we are troublesome and disobedient people who are against the Neocatechumen Way and who refuse to listen. This is a LIE. All our correspondence and meetings with you have stated otherwise. All we want is the opportunity to worship in the manner we were able to before the arrival of the parish priest. He is intent on doing things the Neocatechumenal way, by stealthily introducing some of the way, into the mainstream Church itself. He chooses to allow or disallow what he considers falls in line with this way.
Anyhow, all this has been explained to you several times before.
So, here we are at this point where the situation remains unchanged and the parish now goes on with sadness particularly at the absence of watching Catholicism at work.
May God be with us all
Yours in Christ
( On behalf of the concerned parishioners )