Neocats in Kelmscott, Perth
The Neocatechumenal Way

Never before have we been so deceived and affected as we are since the Neocats arrived secretly and as they say “Little by Little” are trying to convert the parish to their way. From a nice homely parish we now have division, disharmony and discontent.


For the latest updates:

Church Mouse Journal
More morsels from St Vincent's Redfern

Fr Ted Kennedy

Reflections 1
Reflections 2
Reflections 3
Reflections 4
Reflections 5
Who is Worthy?
Letters from Ted

Mum Shirl

Her story

Recent Parish Priests

Pell's appointments
The Neocats
Our pastors

Interesting reading

Points of view

Visitors since 12 April 2004
  Church Mouse

NEOCATECHUMEN INFILTRATION - Testimonial from members of the Good Shepherd Parish in Kelmscott Perth Western Australia

-- Update, September 2004
-- Update, May 2005

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.

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.

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

Your Excellencies

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 the same.

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 catechesis.

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 against God).
- 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 in fact 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.


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 Neo-catechumen worship.

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 we raise.

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 year.

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 Kelmscott.)

[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

Dear Clive,

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 be useful.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely in Christ,
Bishop Don Sproxton.

-----Original Message-----
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

Clive Maher




© Read it first, then copy it right