A gift for the Church of today: Archbishop Costelloe thanks Neocatechumenal Way
Seventeen year old Matthew Buhagiar gives his experience in the presence of Archbishop Timothy Costelloe on Tuesday, 16 August during a meeting with communities of the Neocatechumenal Way. Photo: Jamie O’Brien
By Jamie O’Brien
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe last week thanked members of the Neocatechumenal Way for their service to the Archdiocese of Perth over the past 30 years and encouraged all those present to persevere in their faith journey by “listening with the ears of your heart”.
The Archbishop met with and celebrated evening prayer with some 450 members of the Neocatechumenal Way at St Gerard’s Church, Mirrabooka, on Tuesday 16 August, as part of the 30th anniversary since its commencement in Perth.
“Let’s be wide open to all the wonderful ways in which God is enriching His Church and gifting his Church at the moment,” the Archbishop said.
“Let’s be grateful to him as I am, for the Neocatechumenal Way in the Church and its presence here in this Archdiocese. It’s a wonderful thing to see so many people gathered here, who are people of faith, who are people of commitment, who are people who are excited about their faith,” he said.
Formally recognised as a post-baptismal itinerary of Christian formation to adult faith, communities of the Neocatechumenal Way, are present in Perth at the parishes of Mirrabooka, the Cathedral, Rockingham, Cottesloe, Kelmscott and Embleton. Each community consists of some 30 to 40 people who meet weekly, to listen to the Word of God and celebrate the Eucharist.
Speaking about memory and experiences, the Archbishop recounted the scripture story of Elijah encountering God on the mountain, noting that sometimes the voice of the Lord is hard to catch.
“Sometimes it’s so quiet and so elusive that it’s called a still, silent voice. You have to really listen sometimes to understand what God is asking of you,” the Archbishop said.
“Everybody here in the Church tonight has had experiences of hearing the Lord calling. And again I would encourage us all to remember those times, when God speaks to us,” he said.
In addition to the celebration of evening prayer, National Responsible of the Neocatechumenal Way in Australia, Totò Piccolo, spoke about the various works and charisms of The Way across Perth and Australia.
Some of these charisms, explained Mr Piccolo, include the presence of some eight mission families in Perth, together with their children, who have left their home country, career, family and friends to announce the Gospel.
The Neocatechumenal Way is also responsible for the foundation of the Redemptoris Mater Seminaries – with more than 100 across the world, including one here in Morley.
Thus far, the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Perth has produced almost 40 presbyters, some of whom are fulfilling their ministry in Perth, while others are in mission throughout Australia and the rest of the world.
Addressing the Archbishop, Mr Piccolo pointed to the assembly and referred to it as the fruit of many years of work of the Holy Spirit.
“God has blessed us with Parish Priests who have understood the importance of giving an adult faith to their people,” Mr Piccolo said.
“Pope Francis has publically praised the Communities of the Neocatechumenal Way for having helped the Church recover the full spirit of the (all night) Paschal Vigil,” he said.
Mr Piccolo also spoke about founders Kiko Arguello and the recently deceased Carmen Hernandez, who noted the words of Cardinal Paul Cordes, from Germany, in reminding the Church that Faith is a gift of God which can be given in the parishes to the people.
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe speaks to communities of the Neocatechumenal Way from across Perth during a meeting with members on Tuesday, 16 August at St Gerard’s Church, Mirrabooka Parish. Photo: Jamie O’Brien
Archbishop Costelloe was also given the opportunity to listen to the experiences of three members of The Way – among whom was seventeen year old Matthew Buhagiar, who recently returned from World Youth Day in Poland.
The experience in Poland, in addition to being part of a community, said Matthew, has helped him understand his own history and experiences, while being grateful to God.
It was because of this, he continued, that he was able to feel more open to whatever vocation God is calling him to, even the priesthood.
“The core of the desire to priesthood still remains as a mystery to me but it is the greatest gift I’ve ever received and has allowed me to live freely,” Matthew said.
Reflecting on Matthew’s experience, the Archbishop spoke about the importance of discernment.
“But it’s not enough to listen. We also have to discern. But to discern, we really have to listen and listen carefully and ponder, as Mary did, the things that have happened in your life.”
“Remember the story that brought you into The Way, remember the stages of that journey.
“Remember the things that the Lord has said to you that has led you to take the next step.
Remember, and like Mary, treasure and ponder those things. And when we do that, we become treasurers and ponders of God’s word, and then we are more able to listen, to ponder, to discern, and then to decide.”
The Archbishop went on to speak about the Gospel reading of the rich young man (Matthew 22).
Referring to the response of the young man who questioned Jesus, ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life,’ how many of us, asked the Archbishop, could have honestly said that to the Lord, if we were in that position.
“So when Jesus says to him, ‘There is one thing you lack, go sell what you own give the money to the poor and then come and follow me’, Jesus has with him, pointed out with absolutely accuracy, the thing that is stopping that particular person from saying ‘Yes’ to the Lord’s invitation.
“This is the challenge of this Gospel,” the Archbishop said.
“The challenge is to sit in stillness, sit in quiet, sit in reflection, and ask yourself, ‘If I were to appear before Jesus, and I were to ask him what I must do, to follow him, and he would have said to me, ‘There is one thing you lack’, what would that one thing be?’
“It’s the challenge of putting ourselves before the Lord and saying to Him ‘Lord, tell me what I must do to follow you’.”