Pope Francis met with thousands of members of the Neocatechumenal Way, including 200 missio ad gentes families who were sent to preach in secularized areas around the world.
As the Holy Father entered the Paul VI Audience, he was greeted enthusiastically by those present. In his address, the Pope thanked them for their presence in which he wished to fulfill his task to “confirm brothers in the faith.”
“With this gesture, you […] wished to ask the Successor of Peter to confirm your call, to support your mission, to bless your charism,” he said.
“And today I confirm your call, I support your mission and I bless your charism. I do not do so because he [pointing at Kiko] paid me, no! I do so because I want to do it. You will go in Christ’s name to the whole world to bring his Gospel: Christ precedes you, Christ accompanies you, Christ will bring to fulfilment the salvation of which you are bearers!”
Expressing his gratitude to the initators of the Neocatechumenal Way (Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernandez and Fr. Mario Pezzi), the Pope encouraged their mission in dioceses around the world.
“I always say that the Neocatechumenal Way does great good to the Church,” he said.
Announcing the Beauty of the Gospel
Continuing his address, the Holy Father expressed his joy at the willingness of the families to preach the Gospel as “Christ requested.” He also confirmed the mandate of the missio ad gentes families to evangelize Non-Christians who have never heard of Christ as well as those who have been baptized but have forgotten their faith due to “secularization and worldliness.”
“Today’s world is in great need of this message. How much loneliness, how much suffering, how much estrangement from God there is in so many peripheries of Europe and America and in so many cities of Asia!” he exclaimed.
“Thanks to you missionary families, these Christian communities have the essential task of rendering this message visible. And what is the message? ‘Christ is risen, Christ lives! Christ is alive among us!'”
The 78 year old Pontiff reaffirmed the sentiments of his predecessors, especially St. John Paul II who recognized the Neocatechumenal Way as an “itinerary of Catholic formation, valid for society and for today’s times.”
“The Way rests on those three dimensions of the Church that are the Word, the Liturgy and the Community”, he said.
“Therefore, obedient and constant listening to the Word of God; the Eucharistic celebration in small communities after Sunday’s First Vespers, the celebration of Lauds in the family on Sunday with all the children and the sharing of one’s faith with other brothers are at the origin of so many gifts that the Lord has lavished on you, as well as the numerous vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life.”
The Pope went on to say that the numerous vocations that have sprung from the Way confirm that “the Spirit of God is living and working in the Church today, and responds to the needs of modern man.”
Towards the end of his address, Pope Francis encouraged the members of the Neocatechumenal Way to continue their mission and entrusted them to the Virgin Mary and Jesus.
“May the Lord accompany you. Go with my Blessing!” he concluded.
Relying on Providence
Among those present at today’s meetings were several members of the Roman Curia, as well as the Bishops who have received or requested missio ad gentes families in secularized areas of their diocese.
Among them was Archbishop Anthony C. Fisher, OP, who was appointed in November 2014 as Archbishop of Sydney (Australia).
Speaking with ZENIT shortly after the Holy Father’s meeting, Archbishop Fisher said that the families who are willing to go anywhere solely trusting in divine providence was “really inspiring.”
“It really challenges me as a bishop to see young people and young priests completely relying on providence, like these people,” he said.
The Australian prelate also expressed his joy that several families sent out by the Holy Father will be coming to Sydney.
“We’re getting three families coming to Sydney,” he said. “We already have a number of missionary families in Sydney and in other parts of Australia too. But we’re very, very pleased to be receiving them. And they’ll do great things in Sydney.”
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On ZENIT’s website:
For the full text of the Pope’s address to the Neocatechumenal Way, go to: