By Roy Portillo
Catechist/Responsible Santo Niño de Atocha Parish
The youth of the Neocatechumenal communities in the Diocese of El Paso, received the blessing of our Bishop Mark Joseph Seitz as they departed for World Youth Day (WYD). The communities sent 50
members to the event in Brazil. The group was accompanied by Fr. Jesus Mena the pastor of Guardian Angel parish and others adults in charge of the communities of El Paso. The group left on July 21 and returned on August 4. Everyone returned very happy that they were able to be close to the Pope and to fulfill the mission to which the Pope has called every one for. They have also experienced that God provides through all the difficulties they faced. The nature of the Neocatechumenal Way is defined by Pope John Paul II when he writes: “I recognize the Neocatechumenal Way as an itinerary of Catholic formation, valid for our society and for modern times” The Neocatechumenal Way is at the service of the bishop as one of the forms of diocesan implementation of Christian Initiation and of ongoing education in faith. The Neocatechumenal Way is not a movement or association, but an instrument to serve the parishes at the service of the Bishop to return to faith many people who have abandoned it. Part of the mission of the brothers and sisters in Brazil was to go to the streets and squares to announce the good news to those that are distant from the church also through the WYD events young people discover their vocation. This initiative has also echoed the words of Pope Francis: “Evangelization in the Church involves leaving the Parrish’s itself. The Church is calling us to come out of itself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographical but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents, and of all misery “, we turn to those who do not know that Jesus Christ is alive and wants to give us life in abundance. “We don’t have a right to stay caressing our soul, locked into our own ….one little church” he said in his Easter pastoral letter this year, and has repeatedly criticized the Church “self-referential” which looks at herself in a kind theological narcissism that seeks Jesus Christ for itself and does not let anyone in, “a Church that does not come out, sooner or later, becomes ill due to its own confinement. Though also true that a church that leaves outside to proclaim can have an accident as it can happen to anyone who goes out. But I prefer a thousand times an accidental church than a sick church. ” We know there are many people with profound suffering from loneliness, rejection, old age, sickness, marriage problems, inability to forgive, the lack of meaning in their lives…. And we know that salvation comes to man by the announcement of the Kerygma: that Jesus Christ is risen, he is alive, he gave his life for every man who accepts this good news that Christ loves you and he has certainly forgiven their sins and he gives the Holy Spirit a new life in you. Why not go out into the streets to proclaim what God is doing with us, healing our wounds, showing us his love, opening heaven to us? In fact, we have seen how people, who had left the Church, have been attracted by the songs and the cordiality between the brothers… have come and have heard us and believed. Several people who were in a park in Rio hanging out hearing us proclaim have said they were going to go and return to their parish to continue to nurture their faith. Many have been comforted while buying groceries at a supermarket; for all this we are happy and thankful to our Bishop for his support, encouragement and blessings. It is true, that sometimes we seem a bit strange to people, it’s hard to break the ice and talk to complete strangers, we fight the sense of the ridiculous … but as St. Paul says to the Corinthians: the love of Christ impels us to do this and he will reward us. We are looking forward to the next WYD.