NEOCATECHUMEN INFILTRATION - Testimonial
from members of the Good Shepherd Parish in Kelmscott Perth Western
Concerned members of the Good Shepherd
Parish have asked the Church Mouse to mention their ongoing struggle
with the Neocatechumenal Way on the website.
Although a very different style of parish
to that of St Vincent's, they too have had their community turned
upside down by the invasive and secretive sect. Two of the Neocat
priests involved - Dennis Sudla and the recently ordained Clesio
- are, or have been involved with, both Kelmscott and Redfern.
The following summary of the Kelmscott
experience and copies of commuications between themselves and the
Perth Church hierarchy tell the story.
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
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
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.
Despite all this upheaval we merely ask that parishioners who do
not wish to follow the Neocat way be allowed to worship in the manner
to which they are accustomed, and which has been the Traditional
Way of the parish since its inception.
Letter to the local Bishops
Arch Bishop Barry Hickey & Bishop Don Sproxton
St Mary's Cathedral,
17 Victoria Square
Perth, Western Australia 6000
We are writing to you with the intention of bringing to your attention
the situation that exists in the Good Shepherd Parish at Kelmscott
and to hopefully initiate the necessary actions that will remedy
There is probably an assumption that some ‘Traditional’ parishioners
are against the Neo-Catechumen presence in the parish because they
do not understand the purpose of the Way. This has been rather disconcerting
and frustrating as this is not the case. The understanding that
the parishioners have is as follows:
The Neo-catechumen way is primarily an avenue to evangelise with
a view to encouraging and reaching out in the main to ‘Lapsed Catholics’,
non-believers and those who may wish to increase their faith. Small
communities are initially assembled, from whom some members will
go on to catechise to others.
We have no qualms about the aforementioned. What we are concerned
and annoyed about is the Methodology, some of the content of the
talks themselves, doctrinal uncertainty and the manner of the parish
priest in particular.
The catechists along with the parish priest begin by announcing
to parishioners that the Pope and Bishop have sent them to give
an ‘Adult Catechesis’. This gives a false perception that they have
been deliberately sent by the Bishop to Kelmscott to deliver this
The introductory invitation to come and listen is projected as
a life-changing experience, with a transformation in relation to
one’s faith and the overall handling of modern day living.
At no time were parishioners told that this was in fact a means
of ‘recruiting’ people to walk in the Neo-catechumen Way and the
intended plan to form Communities within the parish. So, under the
guise of evangelizing this was actually a recruitment strategy for
the Neo-catechumen way.
People turned up (almost 100) but gradually, the numbers dwindled
as the original claims made were not proving to be so.
No questions were permitted and no note taking either.
Attendees were told …”You have been chosen by the Holy Spirit and
are not here of your own accord” .The insinuation being that those
not attending have been overlooked by God. What was more disconcerting
was the mention to people that they should be prepared for criticism
from “Those people (pointing to the church) will criticize you and
as such you will need to make a decision”.
Alarmingly, the following is also told: “You have been invited
by Jesus Christ to walk in this Neo-catechumen way and if you refuse
YOU ARE GOING TO HELL.”
The complete secrecy along with the inability to ask questions
or take notes further amplifies the major perception that this is
a deliberate strategy and is received as being deceitful and cunning.
This lack of integrity and openness sets the scene for distrust,
annoyance and concern.
Even the election of Responsibles raised eyebrows when some of
the people ‘elected’ were already approached prior to the weekend
and then the Catechists (unknown to the assembled people) took part
in the so called election. Co-incidentally, the same people whom
the parish priest had chosen as Responsibles were ‘elected’. Later
it became known that the parish priest had in fact visited and persuaded
at least one couple to agree to be Responsibles, prior to this election.
It should be noted that until today the people attending the Neo-catechumen
services are unaware about the future of their walk in this way.
When some stop attending, it is customary for them to be contacted
by the parish priest, the responsibles, or a catechist. A familiar
line used is that Satan has got them to stop.
The most alarming concern is that of the Catholic Doctrine as we
understand it to be.
Some of what we are told includes the following:
- The church is simply brick
- The Eucharist is not a sacrifice but only a celebration
- You cannot offend God (We understand Sin as being an offence
- We need enemies or else we won’t be able to forgive.
- Children and spouses are idols.
During the talks ‘traditional’ parishioners are ridiculed for bowing
before the tabernacle, as well as for the lighting of candles and
other such devotions. ”These people are full of religiosity but
very little faith.”
Here lies the possible root cause of the disharmony, mistrust and
division that prevails.The parish priest appears to strut around
and is known to refer to himself as the Parish priest and as such
does not have to discuss with parishioners what he considers to
be appropriate. He is noticeably very energetic and enthused when
Neo-catechumen matters arise but is found to be less so with regard
to the parish. So be it. The most annoying trait though is the gradual
restrictions enforced. Some of these include:
- Our Lady’s light turned off during Mass
- Thanksgiving to the Sacred Heart not permitted
- Requests for the formation of a Youth Group denied
- When some youth formed a prayer group where they assembled
once a week in each others house, they were reprimanded and
accused of trying to boost their egos. They were told that
this initiative would be discouraged.
- First Communicants not allowed to bring up lit candles to
the altar at the beginning of the Mass.
- Photographs of children preparing for their First Communion
ripped down in annoyance.
At times his behaviour borders on the childish and petulant.
He adamantly tells us that the church is simply brick and our manner
of worship is questionable.
It would appear that anything that does not have a Neo-catechumen
influence about it is discarded or not encouraged. There is a visibly
different manner in which the followers of the way are greeted as
to those who do not. Parish information is readily made available
to the former leaving at times the others to enquire about the same.
Apart from the Neo-catechumen introduction, nothing else of significance
has been introduced to the parish, including other means of evangelisation.
Co-incidentally, upon the recent visit of Bishop Sproxton there
has suddenly been made mention of the setting up of the Legion of
Mary and a Youth group.
The most provocative of all is the constant comments and insinuations
made during the Homilies or at the end of the Mass, towards those
whom he thinks are not supporting the Neo-catechumen Way. This exacerbates
an already un-easy environment.
Several attempts have been made to discuss these matters we now
bring before you. His response has always been that we not talk
with him but instead are defiantly told to go and see the Bishop.
This recalcitrant manner has not helped calm the waters but instead
has got the backs up of parishioners.
USE OF PARISH HALL
Another matter is the use of the parish hall. Parishioners have
put so much energy, effort and fund raising into the building of
the hall, with the prime purpose being that they could utilise the
same to conduct social get togethers so as to create camaraderie
amongst the parishioners.
Now access to the hall on Saturdays and Wednesdays are out of the
question because the parish priest has these days reserved for the
Do you think this is Christian and fair?
There are about 400 parishioners who attend weekend masses. There
are about 20 people who attend the Neo-catechumen way but the hall
is unavailable. We are sure you will agree that Saturdays are the
most convenient days to have parish gatherings. Furthermore, there
is a reasonable assumption that an alternate premises can be found
for those days when parishioners request the use of the hall.
Obviously, we are unable to present to you all the concerns we
have owing to the intention of keeping this as brief as possible
yet not omitting facts we feel you need to be kept informed about.
Unfortunately, qualities such as integrity, openness and honesty
so synonymous with the Catholic Church has taken a beating. We are
always prepared to obey the instructions given by you. We have always
been acceptable to change and realise that this is necessary. What
we are unable to confirm is whether you are aware of the matters
As mentioned earlier, we are not against the presence of the Neo-catechumen
Way or its intentions. We do however suggest that the manner in
which it is rolled out to parishioners be done with openness and
honesty. Two years into the presence of the Neo-catechumen way and
95% of parishioners were unaware of their existence. We ask that
those who are not followers of the way, not be criticised as this
leads to division and animosity and we ask that people not be spiritually
black-mailed into believing that they will be going to hell, should
they refuse the invitation to walk in the way.
Of critical importance is the ability of parishioners to be able
to continue to worship in the manner that was prevalent prior to
the arrival of Father Melvin and the Neo-catechumen way.
Why cannot he allow parishioners the opportunity to do as we have
been and practise his Neo-catechumen Way when he conducts these
services separately? That way, everyone is happy. Almost every thing
in the church has a (hidden) Neo-catechumen influence, which discerning
parishioners observe and as a consequence become annoyed.
The final straw was the last Easter Vigil where without any communication,
the entire Eucharist was conducted in the Neo-catechumen way. We
were forced to put away our Missals and listen to Neo-catechumen
followers singing throughout the Mass. It should be noted that the
attendance at the last Easter Vigil was half that of the previous
We consider this an example of simply ruling rough-shod. Especially,
when later that night a separate Neo-catechumen service was held
in the parish hall.
Despite the good intentions of this Neo-catechumen Way, what we
have today is a them and us parish. Several parishioners have simply
up and gone to other parishes for their worship. They feel that
Father Melvin has his heart and soul in the Neo-catechumen Way and
conducts anything else because of an obligation to do so.
We trust that our discussion with you will help alleviate the situation
and allow goodwill and harmony to return to the parish.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Yours in Christ
Pam Aitkins and Clive Maher
(on behalf of concerned parishioners at the Good Shepherd Parish
[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.]
Recent correspondence with the local Bishops
I received your email late on Friday. The Archbishop and I will
discuss the matters you raise at our next Curial Meeting.
I have delayed my visit to Kelmscott until Fr. Melvin returns from
his annual holiday, as I think it is only fair that he be in the
parish when I meet with the parishioners. The meeting will be about
the Neocatechumenal Way and I will explain how it is a means of
evangelisation for a parish community. The experience I had when
answering questions about the Way at the Parish Council meeting
during the Visitation suggests that a meeting on that topic should
With best wishes,
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Bishop Don Sproxton.
From: Clive Maher
Sent: Friday, August 20, 2004 3:06 PM
Subject: S O S
Dear Archbishop Hickey and Bishop Sproxton
Please bear with me and at least believe me when I state that I
am not comfortable in sending this message to you. Not comfortable
for at least three reasons mainly because
1. You are a busy person with many other important issues
2. That messages like this can be mis-understood as someone off
on the good old complaining train again
3. So far things have not improved but in fact got worse
Well, I thought long and hard but eventually decided to go ahead.
I do not expect anything as so far nothing seems to have improved
since I came out to see you. Now, instead of Father Melvyn we now
have his deputy Father Clesio firing the daily shots.
Every day we are subjected to innuendo and provocative comments
from the pulpit, to which we choose not to respond as (perhaps)
we take the reverence of the church more seriously than we should.
How long we can keep up this restrain is but another question. I
can tell you it is wearing a bit thin now and feelings of annoyance
are gradually steaming along.
What really has tested our tolerance levels is the homily of Father
Dennis Sudla who while visiting from Redfern (NSW) last Sunday at
the 6pm Mass in typical Father Dennis style gave us a royal going
over. He hit out directly and very antagonistically as he accused
us of being disobedient, troublesome and a few other things. We
were duly chastised in front of the congregation and brought to
notice.Obviously; this was as a result of his being kept 'up to
date' by the local clergy. So here we have a visiting priest adding
to the already uneasy situation that exists.
(By the way ... as an aside, Fr Dennis also made the following
(supposedly light hearted attempt at humour) comment. He said it
was nice to see so many females at church...some pretty, some not
so pretty and some ugly. There happened to be a parishioner
who having had a stroke has had some disfiguration. She was duly
embarrased. Ah Well ... that can perhaps be put down to in-experience
(yet again)? ).
Along with this ritualistic bashing, there have been claims made
by the clergy that some of us have threatened to assault them, have
organised a petition to have them removed and that we have been
distributing flyers in shopping centres. Then there is the claim
that some Acolytes have been telling some sick parishioners not
to allow the priests to visit them and give Communion.
How can they lie like this? How can one be expected to have any
respect for them?
As well, people have been told that two of the Acolytes have spat
the dummy and withdrawn their services.
I ask you, your Grace, are these actions conducive to mending bridges
or resolving concerns? And this too where we instinctively look
to such people as being the role models of the Catholic church.
Anyhow, so be it. We may have to address these matters should they
continue. Coming to church is now an exercise in patience and tolerance,
being always on edge and uncomfortable, wondering when the next
volley of criticism, accusation or denigration may pop up.
As I stated earlier, I would rather not write to you on such matters.
This is a situation that is getting worse. Personally my patience
and tolerance is reaching saturation point and I am struggling to
contain myself. Some fellow parishioners are putting on the war
paint. I hope I do not see myself writing again saying ... I did
bring this to your attention.
This of course has exacerbated the division that has come upon
the parish as a direct consequence of these clergymen. Please do
not mis-understand this plea for you to do something to arrest the
dis-harmony and dis-enchantment that some of us are embalmed in.
As an added bonus, recently the youth who meet to prayer were chastised
by two Neo Catechumen members for doing so. Telling them that they
were being disobedient to Father Melvyn's orders that they stop
praying in people's homes. Obviously, this too has emanated from
these priests telling these Neocats about the matter. This is but
another example of life in the Good Shepherd Parish and the audacity
of the followers of this Neocat way to get involved in matters they
have no authority over.
May God be with you always