By Salvatore Cernuzio

ROME, NOV. 13, 2012 ( The joy of the Kerygma, the proclamation of the Risen Christ, was proclaimed to more than 6,000 people  who gathered at Pilditch Stadium of Pretoria, South Africa last Sunday . The gathering was organized by the itinerant team of the Neocatechumenal Way in the country.

The meeting, presided by Archbishop William Slattery of Pretoria, officially opened the Year of Faith in the Archdiocese with a celebration dedicated to giving witness to the Gospel.

Archbishop Slattery, who had recently returned from the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, encouraged the various movements in the diocese to be present at the meeting and encourage the African people to rediscover their faith.

Among the movements present at the celebration were representatives of Koinonia, the Charismatic Renewal, and several representatives of the Neocatechumenal Way. Dino Furgione, the itinerant responsible of the Neocatechumenal Way in South Africa, proclaimed the "Kerygma" to the thousands gathered at the event which he describes "sparked an explosion of joy".

"After the catechesis, the effect of all those people who stood up to sing a hymn to the Virgin was immediate. The stadium was ignited. Everyone exulted as they followed the young people of Pretoria’s [Neocatechumenal] communities [in song]. I think it can truly be described as a work of the Holy Spirit,” Furgione told ZENIT.

In the Mass that closed the event, Archbishop Slattery invited the faithful to live the Year of Faith as an "occasion to begin a new way," reminding that, “after the destructions wrought by Apartheid with its logic of exclusions and divisions," South African society is called today to be a "place that opens its arms to everyone."

Treasuring the guidelines that emerged during the Synodal meetings, the prelate then invited all pastoral workers as well as the faithful, "to seek those who are now far from the Church or who have lost the faith." The South African prelate also invited the faithful to visit them in their homes and inviting them to return to the parish, essentially allowing them to become a "community of small communities."

During the celebration, the archbishop blessed a large Door, made by the first Neocatechumenal Community of Pretoria, which will be placed during the whole year in front of the Cathedral, as a symbol of the "door of faith" which is always open to all.

"It was truly emotionally intense;” Furgione said, "like the [celebration] we experienced last year in October when we participated in the Mass with the Pope, […] when the Holy Father announced the Year of Faith for the first time."

“I still remember the sensation we felt in front of this news,” he continued, who along with his wife Roberta and their children were asked to present the Eucharistic gifts to the Holy Father. Recalling "that humble sign",  Furgione added: "the gesture of presenting the Eucharistic gifts was an opportunity for us, in the name of all the 'families in mission' of the Neocatechumenal Way, to present our faith to the Pope and to renew our total obedience to him, knowing that only in communion with him will our mission bear fruit."

After hearing Benedict XVI’s words, Furgione continued "we felt not only as witnesses but part of an historic moment for the Church, and after a year we have sought to transfer the same Spirit and energy that the Holy Father transmitted to us, to more than 6,000 people!"

Dino Furgione and his wife Roberta are one of the many families of the Neocatechumenal Way that heard the call to dedicate their life entirely to Evangelization. Leaving Rome two years ago, they are now the itinerant family responsible for southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland). At present they serve four dioceses, with the help of Marco and Marta Malacaria, a very young Roman couple who along with their two year old daughter Miriam, left their home and their comforts, to proclaim the Gospel in South African. 

"The Lord is very creative," concluded Furgione. "He has led us to serve in Africa to discover Him in the events, in people, and in our own flesh. There are trials and persecutions every day, but at the same time there is Providence. We have never lacked anything. At times we don’t know how all this can happen. But as the Psalm says, it is an "amazing knowledge [that] is beyond me, a height to which I cannot attain,' and we remain every day moved by God’s love for us."