Neocats in Mirrabooka Perth

MIRRABOOKA PARISH – The Neocats’ Australian "jewel in the crown" in Perth Western Australia St Gerard’s parish at Mirrabooka is the site of the Neocatechumenal Way’s introduction to Perth (and Australia). Don Sproxton, the parish priest at the time (some 10 years ago) was very active in consolidating the Way in the parish. Sproxton has subsequently been elevated to Auxiliary Bishop. Mirrabooka was strongly promoted as the Neocat jewel in the crown; it was presented to other parishes as a prime example of the Fruits and Joy that could flow from embracing the Way. When the people of St Gerard’s heard of the damage being done by the Way in Kelmscott they realised that they were not alone, and wrote the letter reproduced below to the Archbishop to inform him of the true situation in Mirrabooka. The Archbishop subsequently met with some of the parishioners and indicated that he would try and provide a non-Neocat priest. One has indeed been provided but he is there to care for the African population in the parish.

11 February 2005-08-08

Most Rev. Archbishop Barry Hickey
St Mary’s Cathedral
17 Victoria Avenue
Perth WA 6000

PETITION FROM PARISHIONERS OF ST GERARD MAJELLA

We, the undersigned parishioners of St Gerard Majella Parish comprising Westminster, Balga, and Dianella West wish to petition you on behalf of members of our Parish.

For the last few years we have been very unhappy with certain situations in the Parish. It was one of the largest and most vibrant Parishes in the Archdiocese and attendances at weekend Mass were above average. We also had a good daily attendance at Mass from Monday to Saturday morning.

Now, our Parish numbers have dwindled considerably and even on weekends the services are nowhere near supported as in previous years, because we have lost a lot of good parishioners to other areas.

OUR PARISH IS DIVIDED AND HAS BEEN FOR SOME TIME

The division between original Parishioners and the Neo-Catechumenate Communities who have evolved within our Parish is obvious. We are tired of hearing “CONFESSIONS” from the (Neo-Catechumenate) Priests each time they give a Homily during the celebration of Mass and are continually reminded that we are sinners. We know of our sinfulness but also know of God’s unconditional love for us, otherwise we would not continue wanting to receive the Grace of God at Mass. Even when a new Community is being established we are subjected to listening to members of this Community parading their sins before us and finds this embarrassing and insulting.

The majority of Parishioners are NOT in the already established Neo-catechumenate communities, which are comprised of people from other suburbs in the Archdiocese. We have nothing against the Neo-catechumenate people as individuals, but rather the concept of the Neo-catechumenate Way. What we object to is being forced to listen to Neo-catechumenate priests preach the format of the Neo-catechumenate way whilst at Mass, when we are under the banner of your Perth Archdiocese. It would seem that Archdiocesan Parish Priests no longer wish to serve in the Parish of St Gerard Majella.

The parishioners are also upset that our appointed priest, Fr Gerard Beeson, was in our Parish for a period of only 18-20 month. He was much loved by the people, and he gave excellent Homilies, which touched our inner-being and related well to our Catholic ethos.

Then without warning, whilst on extended holidays, the Parish was finally informed that Fr Gerard would not be returning to our Parish. No reasons were given for this, and with little explanation. This caused much ill feeling and disappointment among us, at not being able to say farewell to Fr Gerard in the usual manner and we ask ourselves “WHY WAS IT DONE THIS WAY?”

As you can gather WE ARE VERY UNHAPPY PARISHIONERS AND DON’T LIKE WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR PARISH. WE FEAR THAT OUR PARISH WILL BECOME A TOTAL NEO-CATECHUMENATE ENVIRONMENT, WHICH WILL SEPARATE AND DIVIDE US FURTHER. MANY MORE PARISHIONERS WILL LEAVE. A NEO-CATECHUMENATE PARISH PRIEST IS NOT WHAT WE DESIRE.

The majority of the Neo-catechumenate communities are not from our Parish. May be if they desire, they could purchase their own block of land and build a church for their communities and have their Priests with them.

We would like to have a meeting with you, at your earliest convenience, before announcing the appointment of a Parish Priest, to discuss in an open manner the problems as we see them. Air our views, and take advice from you. We hope we are not too late in putting forward our request.

We await your reply and meeting date.

Yours in Christ

The undersigned Parishioners of St Gerard Majella

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