The Neocatechumenal Way (the way) was born in 1964 in the shanty towns of Palomeras Altas, near Madrid (Spain). The environment of the shanty towns was formed by the most degraded layers of society: gypsies and “quinquis” (largely illiterate), homeless, thieves, prostitutes, young criminals, immigrants, etc. In this environment, the seed of the Neocatechumenal Way germinated. Among the poor and marginalized who received the announcement of the dead and risen Christ, Kiko and Carmen witnessed how the Holy Spirit began a process of Christian initiation, in the image of the catechumenate of the early Church.
In the early 1960s, Francisco José Gómez Argüello (Kiko), a Spanish painter, winner of the Special National Painting Prize in 1959, after a deep existencial crisis, discovered in the suffering of the innocents the mystery of Christ Crucified, who is present in the last ones of the earth This experience led him to abandon everything and, following in the footsteps of Charles de Foucauld, he went to live among the poor in Palomeras Altas.
In this process he received an inspiration from the Virgin Mary:
‘We must make Christian communities like the Holy Family of Nazareth,
who live in humility, simplicity and praise.
The other is Christ.’
Carmen Hernández, also a Spaniard, was a graduate in Chemistry, and studied at the Institute of Missionaries of Christ Jesus. She also graduated in Theology with the Dominicans of Valencia and there she discovered the renewal of the Second Vatican Council through the liturgist Mons. Pedro Farnés Scherer.
After two years in Israel, living with Jewish people and experiencing their traditions and the places of the Holy Land, she returns to Madrid with the hope of forming a missionary group to evangelize the miners of Oruro (Bolivia), as requested by the then-archbishop of La Paz, Mons. Jorge Manrique Hurtado. Through a sister of hers, she comes into contact with Kiko Argüello in the Palomeras shanty towns. She built a shack on the wall of a factory and began to collaborate with him.
IN THE SHANTY TOWN OF
PALOMERAS OF MADRID
The artistic temperament of Kiko, his existential experience, his training as a catechist in the Cursillos of Christianity combined with the impulse of evangelization of Carmen, her theological preparation and knowledge of the Paschal Mystery and the renewal of the Second Vatican Council, together with the environment of the poorest on earth, constituted the laboratory that gave rise to a kerygmatic, theological-catechetical synthesis, which is the backbone of this process of adult evangelization that is the Neocatechumenal Way.
Thus was born the first community founded on the tripod: Word of God-Liturgy-Community, leading to fraternal communion and mature faith.
This new catechetical experience, which was in the line with the renewal inspired by the II Vatican II Council, was welcomed by the then archbishop of Madrid, Mons. Casimiro Morcillo, who encouraged the initiators of the Way to spread it in the parishes that requested it. The experience extended gradually in the archdiocese of Madrid, in Zamora and in other Spanish dioceses.
In 1974, Pope Paul VI, in an audience granted to the first neocatechumenal communities, recognized the Way as a fruit of the Second Vatican Council: “Here are the fruits of the Council! You do after Baptism what the early Church did before: before or after, is secondary. The fact is that you look at the authenticity, the fullness, the coherence, the sincerity of the Christian life. And this has a great merit, which comforts us greatly (…) How much joy they give us with their presence and activity! ”
All the next Popes have promoted and recognized the Way as the fruit and inspiration of the Holy Spirit for the help of the Church. Among them John Paul I, that when he was patriarch of Venice had welcomed Kiko and Carmen to begin the Way in the diocese.
Saint John Paul II promoted, strengthened and facilitated the development of this Christian initiation of adults, fostering new missionary and vocational modalities such as families in mission and the formation of the diocesan missionary seminaries, the Redemptoris Mater.
In 1990, St. John Paul II wrote in the letter Ogniqualvolta : “I acknowledge the Neocatechumenal Way as an itinerary of Catholic formation, valid for our society and for our times.”, and “It is therefore my wish that the Brothers in the Episcopate – together with their presbyters – value and support this work for the new evangelization”.
Benedict XVI has also accompanied, sustained and encouraged the missionary expansion of the Way. During his pontificate, in 2008, the Statutes were definitively approved by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. In turn, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gave its doctrinal approval to the Catechetical Directory in 2010.
“I thank the Lord for the joy of your faith and for the ardour of your Christian witness, thanks be to God! (…) I thank you for all you do in the Church and the world.”, Pope Francis said at the first audience with the initiators and the brothers of the Way in 2014.
Presently, the Neocatechumenal Way is active in 134 nations across 5 continents, with 21,300 communities in 6,270 parishes, as well as 1,668 families in mission of which 216 are Missio ad Gentes in dechristianized cities around the world, with 125 diocesan missionary Redemptoris Mater seminaries.
Sydney is very much a part of this new ecclesial reality.
Now you too can get involved!
COME & LISTEN
Opportunties for attending catechesis takes place in a number of different parishes throughout the Sydney area, including the Wollongong and Parramatta Dioceses.
Program for 2023
Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
St Peter’s Parish, Surry Hills
235 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
Contact: Gian Pietro/Caterina: 0402 576 258
St Fiacres’ Parish, Leichhardt
Address: 96 Catherine St, Leichhardt
Contact: David/Fiona – 0418 245 159
Our Lady of Lourdes’ Parish, Earlwood
Address: 280 Homer St, Earlwood,
Contact: Aldo/Iole – 0416 028 706
Our Lady of the Annunciation Parish, Pagewood
Address: 25 Donovan Ave, Maroubra NSW 2035
Contact: Nick/Rebecca – 0423 622 893
St Martha’s Catholic Parish, Strathfield
Cnr. Homebush Rd & Churchill Ave.
Contact: Fr John – 9746 6131
Holy Family Parish, Maroubra (Spanish)
Address: 214 Maroubra Rd, Maroubra NSW 2035
Contact: Quique – 0434 583 368 or Fr David – 0429 155 838
Parramatta Catholic Diocese
Our Lady of Lourdes Church, St Michael’s Parish, Baulkham Hills South
Address: 1 Canyon Rd, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153
Contact: Lucas/Ana – 0428 813 256
Sacred Heart Parish, Mt Druitt South
Address: 8 Ropes Rd, Mt Druitt South
Contact: Matthew/Rebecca – 0438 049 116
Wollongong Catholic Diocese
Holy Family Parish, Ingleburn
Address: 136 Oxford Rd, Ingleburn NSW 2565
Contact: Bernie/Laura – 0432 413 803
St Francis of Assisi Parish, Warrawong
Address: 93 Flagstaff Rd, Warrawong NSW 2502
Contact: Neil-Trish – 0438 056 016
Our Lady Help of Christians, Rosemeadow
Address: 80 Demetrius Rd, Rosemeadow NSW 2560
Contact: Gabriele/Anna – 0424 051 916