Monday, May 22, 2017



I was invited to lunch to see first hand a very interesting new, growing ( in some places controversial - see * below) Catholic community called the "Neo-Catechuminal Way."

I was invited to a very hospitable lunch at the  seminary of the Neo-Catechumenal way in Toronto -  one of several in the us, Canada and many Latin countries and around the world. It was located across the street from one of their parishes. There are seminaries located in Toronto, Denver and Philadelphia for example.

They go out as missionaries with the help of missionary families. Members are typically from all over the world. Founded after the council, they do not use the latin mass. They have interactive homilies, liturgical practices and live in small communities like the early church, their most desired places to do missionary work is in large urban areas, rather than small towns.

I led their annual seminarian retreat at their redemptoris mater seminary in toronto three years ago  when they joined the seminarians of St. Augustine, the diocesan seminary of Toronto, for their seminary retreat.

Their seminarians are mostly young and  full of passion for ministry.

The Neocatechumenal Way

In the primitive church, when the world was pagan, those that wanted to become Christian had to begin a "catechumenate," an itinerary of formation in preparation for Baptism. Today the process of secularization had brought many people to abandon the faith and the church: because of this there is a necessity for an itinerary of Christian formation.

The Neocatechumenal Way is not a movement or an association, but an instrument in the parishes at the service of the bishop to return to faith many of those who abandoned it.

The Way began in the early 60's in one of the slums of Madrid, by Kiko ArgĂșello and Carmen Hernandez, and was endorsed by the then Archbishop of Madrid, Casimiro Morcillo, who noted in that first community a true rediscovery of the Word of God and the implementation of the liturgical renewal proposed in that time by the Council.

Having seen the positive experience in the church of Madrid, in 1974 the Congregation for Divine Worship chose the name Neocatechumenal Way for this experience.

It is a way of conversion through which the richness of the gospel can be rediscovered.

In these years the Way has diffused itself to over 900 dioceses, in 105 nations, with over 20 thousand communities in six thousand parishes.

In 1987 the first international missionary seminary "Redemptoris Mater" was opened in Rome. The seminary hosts youth that have discovered and matured their vocation in a Neocatechumenal Community and have answered the call to go and announce the Good News in the whole world. Many Bishops have successively followed the experience of Rome and today in the world there are over 70 diocesan missionary seminaries "Redemptoris Mater," where over two thousand seminarians are being formed.

Recently as an answer to the Pope's call for a New Evangelization, many families that have lived this experience have offered themselves to help the mission of the church going to the most secularized and dechristianized places in the world, preparing for the birth of new missionary parishes.

Immersion baptism, a part of an intense catechumenate, is important enough to have the font right in front of the altar and in the midst of the people.

*In many places this movement is very controversial as this site elaborates.


On Saturday evening I was invited to the cathedral to celebrate the 50th anniversary of priesthood of a local priest who is also the recently retired bishop of Kamloops. I led his priest a couple of years ago so I knew him. We gathered at the Italian Cultural Center for a banquet where over a hundred guests gathered to pay tribute.

Archbishop Miller of Vancouver, Bishop Monroe retired bishop of Kamloops and Archbishop Exeter retired bishop of Vancouver.

My table.

Another table of Bishop Monroe's priest friends.

Sunday Night Dinner

After preaching at the Sunday night mass at the cathedral, one of the young men acolytes invited me to dinner to have food typical of north China. He, however, is from Hong Kong.

We had a very fascinating conversation. He was very interested in the parts of the United States outside its big cities and very, very knowledgeable of U.S. History.

Vancouver is a very expensive city so, like many young adults, he has several jobs - a full time and two part time jobs. He has made time, however, to volunteer as an altar server at the cathedral.

Roger Tse from Hong Kong

Sculpture of a homeless person in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Rosary

The homeless person, of course, is Jesus.
Notice the wounds in his feet. 


This morning, after talking to a married deacon from the Philippines over coffee in the Cathedral Rectory about his seminary days, his leaving, his marriage and now his being ordained a permanent deacon, I am amazed at how fortunate I am to have such conversations and have such similar experiences wherever I have been in nine countries.

I came from a town of about twenty-seven people. I was too bashful to read in front of the seminarians in the seminary. Now I get to meet, and address for hours, people from all over the world, thousands of priests from many countries, hundreds of bishops and even a few Cardinals.

By the time this week is over, I will have given 20 hour-long retreat conferences and delivered 9 homilies here in Vancouver, Canada, alone. This coming week will be my nineteenth priest retreat in Canada all together - from one end to the other: from Victoria and Vancouver in the west, all across the center, to Labrador and Newfoundland in the east. I have spoken in at least four Canadian parishes and attended at least ten celebrations with the laity.

My world seems to be expanding, not shrinking, in retirement. I am amazed and I am very grateful.

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