NEW YORK—Responding to the Pope's call for bishops and new ecclesial movements to work more closely, leaders of 11 movements active in the Archdiocese of New York met Nov. 13 to learn about each other and share what they offer with the vicars of the archdiocese.
Similar meetings have been held in dioceses across the country, from Brooklyn to Dallas.
The meeting in the New York Archdiocese was held in preparation for a June 10 “Pentecost 2000” event where parishes and movements will discuss ways to work together.
At the meeting at Holy Family Church in Manhattan, keynote speaker Jay Dunlap, a member of the apostolic movement Regnum Christi, said the relationship between movements and pastors is like the relationship between Peter and Jesus.
“We in the new movements have received the charisms given our founders,” said Dunlap, who is also a Register Radio News correspondent. “And we need our bishops and pastors to act in persona Christi, to recognize our charisms, instruct us, and purify us as we grow in service to the Church.”
Dunlap outlined the history of Pope John Paul II's interventions on behalf of the new movements. He noted that at the Synod for the Laity in 1988, the movements were regarded with suspicion. But that is changing, he said, especially since Pentecost 1998, when the Holy Father convened the World Congress of Ecclesial Movements.
That meeting culminated in St. Peter's Square on May 30, 1998, when 300,000 members of 56 new movements and communities joined the Pope for a celebration of music and testimonials.
“Movements” is the name given to the many new Church organizations that have formed or grown in response to the Second Vatican Council's call for an active laity. Dunlap quoted Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as saying the new movements are now in “phase two” of their maturing process, in which they must come together with bishops and pastors to maximize their effectiveness.
Bishop James McCarthy, one of the New York vicars in attendance, thanked the leaders of the movements, calling them “a blessing to the Church. Continue to do the wonderful works that you're doing. We hope you will continue to grow.”
Representatives of the movements each gave testimonials indicating the nature of their charisms and the kinds of work they do. The testimonials revealed the ways the movements complement one another.
Don Jones of the Cursillo movement said his experience of the trademark Cursillo weekend retreat moved him from being a “borderline agnostic to a true believer.”
“If you have somebody looking for a high octane experience, we have something to offer,” Jones said.
The next speaker, Joseph Wiener of Communion and Liberation, discussed how the movement to which he belongs has a special commitment to youth work. He grew up the son of a Jewish mother and a Lutheran father, but converted to Catholicism with the help of a college professor and friends in a pro-life group. He says everyone in that group came to join Communion and Liberation.
“After the first six weeks of attending C and L meetings on Long Island,” Wiener said, “I remember singing songs as one of our friends strummed a guitar. We were simply singing with joy and freedom, and I said, ‘That's for me.’”
Jean Palombo of the Neocatechumenal Way told her story of being a young married woman with a career and no desire for children; she was attending a fundamentalist church. Her husband then invited her to a meeting of the Neocatechumenal Way, and she vowed, “This is the last thing I will attend in a Catholic Church.”
Now, Palombo said, she is the mother of nine children, “and each child is the victory of Jesus Christ. When I was married, I took the word ‘obey’ out of the marriage ceremony. In this community I have found myself. I have learned that to obey Christ is true freedom.”
Tom Scheuring then spoke about LAMP Ministries, the New York-based apostolate he founded with his wife, Lynn. He spoke of LAMP's mission to take “food and faith-building material to the poor,” using such means as a canteen truck that reaches the poor of the South Bronx.
Bob Monaghan of Regnum Christi then told of how he integrates the Gospel into his work as a lead trader on Wall Street, leading rosaries and Gospel reflection groups in the heart of the world's financial capital. He said he is also working to bring Catholic radio programming to New York.
Sister Nancy Keller shared the moving story of how the Charismatic Renewal saved her vocation during the crisis times of the early 1970s. She called on the movements to work together, “Not like TV dinners, with each element in its own compartment, nor like V8 juice, where everything is mixed together, but like stew, in which all the pieces retain their flavor and add to the whole.”
Andrea Bartolli of the St. Egidio Community teaches international relations at Columbia University and represents his community at the United Nations. The St. Egidio Community, named for the parish in Rome where it began in 1968, works to end poverty by seeking peace, for “war is the mother of all poverties,” he said. The community was instrumental in negotiating the 1992 peace accord to end civil war in Mozambique.
Sherry Silvi spoke on behalf of the Focolare movement, which she said extends to 183 countries reaching 5 million people. She told of how she went from being a Marxist college student to attending a Focolare meeting and seeing there an overwhelming peace that she lacked.
“I found God and a living Church,” Silvi said. “I must love Jesus in every person. Now I have a passion for unity,” which is a central theme of the Focolare spirituality.
Representing Worldwide Marriage Encounter, Jim and Nancy Rizzi told of the transforming weekend experience that helped them grow in love and communication. “God also found a place in my life again,” Nancy Rizzi added. “The closer I am to God the closer I am to Jim.”
Ted Gaskin of the Legion of Mary told the history of how Pope St. Pius X told a group of cardinals that the Church's greatest need was for each parish to have a group of laymen “who are truly apostolic doing the work of Christ ‘feeding my lambs.’” An Irishman named Frank Duff took up that challenge in 1921 and started the Legion of Mary. Gaskin said the Legion now has 6,000 members in New York alone, engaged in door-to-door evangelization, taking parish censuses, and other works designed to make them “extra hands to help priests.”
Tom Cornell of the Catholic Worker Movement told the meeting he was raised in a working class neighborhood but became “alive intellectually” when he started learning the history of the working class.
“I ultimately came to the conclusion I hold today,” he said. “The Catholic tradition holds a more coherent social justice position than has ever existed anywhere else. All we have to do is study it and put it into action.”