Brothers and Sisters of the Neocatechumenal Way

The Church Mouse was struck by an overwhelming sense of déjà vu upon reading the letter from the bishops of the Holy Land to the Neocats,  and felt compelled to adapt it to the St Vincent’s situation by shifting the geographical context from Jerusalem to Redfern.

Redfern, March 08, 2007

Brothers and Sisters of the Neocatechumenal Way:

1 May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always. We, ordinary Catholics of St Vincent’s Redfern, address this letter to you in Lent, in the context of the common pastoral plan for this year, the theme of which is catechesis and religious education in the parish.

Brothers and sisters of the Way, you are welcome in our community. We thank God for the grace that the Lord has given you and for the charism that the Holy Spirit has poured out in the Church through your ministry in post-baptismal formation. We are grateful for your presence in some of our parishes, for your preaching of the Word of God, for the help you offer our faithful in understanding their faith more deeply and rooting themselves in their local churches, in "a synthesis of kerygmatic preaching, lifestyle changes, and liturgy" (Statutes, art. 9).

Pursuant to the letter that Pope Benedict XVI addressed to you on January 12, 2006, and the one from the congregation for divine worship on December 1, 2005, we ask you to take your place in the heart of the parish in which you proclaim the Word of God, avoiding making yourselves a group apart. We would like you to be able to say with Saint Paul: "I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible" (1 Corinthians 9:19).

The principle to which we must all remain faithful, and which must guide our pastoral action, should be "one parish and one Eucharist." So your first duty, if you want to help the faithful grow in faith, is that of rooting them in the parishes and in their own liturgical traditions in which they have grown up for generations.

At St Vincent’s, we care a great deal about our liturgy and our traditions. It is the liturgy that has contributed greatly to preserving our Christian faith. It is like an identification card, and not only one way of praying among others. We implore you to have the charity to understand and respect our attachment to our own liturgies.

2 The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity in the parish, and not of fragmentation. And so we ask that the Eucharistic celebrations be presided over always by the pastor, or in full agreement with him. "Where the bishop is, there is the Church," wrote Saint Ignatius of Antioch. Teach the faithful to love their liturgical traditions, and put your charism at the service of unity.

3 We also ask you to undertake a serious study of the language and culture of the people, as a sign of respect for them and as a means of understanding their soul and their history, in the context of St Vincent’s: religious, cultural, and Aboriginal. Moreover, in Redfern, we are searching for peace and justice, a search that is an integral part of our Christian life. All preaching should guide our faithful in taking concrete stances in the various contexts of life, including the political: an attitude of forgiveness and of love for one’s enemy and, on the other hand, demand for one’s rights, especially dignity, freedom, and justice.

We ask you to preach a Gospel incarnated in life, a Gospel that illuminates all aspects of life and roots the faithful in Jesus Christ Risen and in their entire human, cultural, and ecclesial environment.

We ask God to fill your hearts with his power and love, and to grant you grace that you may fill the hearts of the faithful with his love and power.

We also ask God to fill the hearts of his bishops in Australia with his power and love, and to grant them grace that they may share in the wisdom of their confreres in the Holy Land.

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