VATICAN CITY, JAN. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- In his first audience granted to communities of the Neocatechumenal Way, Benedict XVI sent more than 200 families on mission to dioceses around the world.
Some 10,000 people, including five cardinals and 30 bishops, took part in today’s meeting, held in Paul VI Hall.
The Way’s initiators, Kilo Argüello, Carmen Hernández and Father Mario Pezzi, were on hand, as were 1,100 priests formed in the Redemptoris Mater seminaries that have sprung from these communities.
Addressing the families — parents and children — who leave their countries to evangelize abroad, the Holy Father said: “They are families that leave without many human supports, but who count above all on the support of Divine Providence.”
“Witness with your life that the Lord does not abandon those who trust in him. Continue to spread the Gospel of life,” the Pope recommended.
“In a world that seeks human certainty and security, show that Christ is the sure rock on which to build the edifice of one’s life, and that confidence placed in him never disappoints,” he added.
The idea of “mission families” was born in 1986, in response to Pope John Paul II’s appeal to undertake a new evangelization. Their members, who belong to Neocatechumenal communities, offer themselves as volunteers to go to nations where the Church needs help.
The fate of each one of them is designated by the leaders of the Way, taking into account the specific needs of each area and in response to the requests of bishops who ask for families to be sent to their dioceses.
John Paul II himself presided over a sending celebration on Dec. 12, 1994.
In his address, Benedict XVI acknowledged that in their few years of existence, the Neocatechumenal communities “have been able to do much and from your communities have come numerous vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life.”
The Pope presented Christ as the center of the mission who, “celebrated in the liturgical rites, constitutes a privileged and indispensable way to build living and persevering Christian communities.”
In this context, he explained that to “help the Neocatechumenal Way to be even more incisive in its evangelizing action in communion with the whole People of God, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments has recently imparted to you, in my name, some norms concerning the Eucharistic celebration.”
“Thanks to faithful adherence to all the directives of the Church you will make your apostolate even more effective, in harmony and full communion with the Pope and the pastors of each parish. And in this way the Lord will continue to bless you with abundant pastoral fruits,” assured the Bishop of Rome.
There are 20,000 Neocatechumenal communities in 900 dioceses. About 3,000 priests have come from the heart of their communities, along with 1,500 seminarians and 5,000 women religious.