Cardinal Sean O’Malley: “Kiko is like a ‘Spiritual Panama Canal’ ”

Panama City, 01/29/2019

The Neocatechumenal Way celebrated this Monday, January 28, the traditional Vocational Meeting to collect the first fruits of the World Youth Day in Panama.

Some 25,000 young people from all over the world participated in it. The most numerous were those of Central America and the Caribbean: more than 8,000 total. About 1,700 from Costa Rica, Nicaragua 1,600. From El Salvador 1,200, from Honduras and Guatemala 1,550 and 300, respectively. About 250 participated from the Dominican Republic. From Panama itself some 3,400 attended.

From South America about 4,600 participated. 2,230 young people came from Brazil. From Chile 530, Peru 260, Colombia 320 and Ecuador 710. From Argentina 125 pilgrims, from Venezuela 120 and from Bolivia 155.

All gathered at the Rommel Fernández Stadium at 3:00 p.m., the same stadium where the Pope had his meeting with the volunteers the day before.

From early in the morning, young people steadily arrived at the stadium, and despite the suffocating heat, they displayed at all times their joy and enthusiasm, dancing and singing.

The international team of the Way, formed by Kiko Argüello, Father Mario Pezzi and Ascensión Romero, directed the meetnig. It was presided by the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who is part of the Council of Cardinals, who advises the Pope Francio in the government of the curia. He is also president of the Commission for the Protection of Minors of the Holy See.

Also present were the Archbishop of Panama City, Monsignor José Domingo Ulloa, as well as Cardinal José Luis Lacunza, from the Diocese of David.

From Spain, the Archbishop of Valladolid and President of the Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Ricardo Blázquez Pérez; and the auxiliary bishop of Getafe, Monsignor José Rico Pavés.

The Archbishop of Brasilia, Cardinal Sergio Da Rocha attended and that of São Paulo, Odilo Pedro Scherer. His Holiness Nuncio in Panama, Monsignor Miroslaw Adamczyk, also attended along with other bishops of the world.

Monsignor José Domingo Ulloa thanked “God for this opportunity to have you here today after having participated with the youth of the world in this gift.” ” I do not tire of repeating that the transformation of this world, of the Church can only come from you young people. You are the present of the humanity and the Church”, he affirmed.

Announcement of the Kerigma: that Christians “be one”

Kiko Argüello then made the announcement of the Kerigma. “This is a providential meeting and it will change many of your lives. Your life is going to turn into an adventure: the adventure of helping Jesus Christ to save this generation.”, he said referring to the following vocational call.

“God has wanted to save the world through the foolishness of preaching. We need to open the ear of this generation. Every time the kerygma is heard our salvation is realized because this Good News explains something that is happening right now: the salvation of men from eternal hell, “he said.

“Salvation comes through listening. The Church says that faith comes through the ear. Without faith, no one is saved ”.

The initiator and international manager of the way expressed regret that “people today do not listen because they have their ears closed. They are not interested in anything about religion, and so we need to open the ear of this generation. “

Jesus Christ opened the ear doing miracles, because if no one believed what he said. There is a moment in the Acts of the Apostles in which miracles cease because the greatest moral miracle appears in history: the Church, men possessed of the same Spirit of God .” “And Christ says: love one another as I have loved you.”

“Christ loved us when we were his enemies. Don’t be afraid if your husband is your enemy, or your wife, or whoever. The Lord gives us the power to love the other in a new dimension, in the dimension of the cross, “he added.

“Jesus Christ offered his life for us, and so do Christians: they offer their lives for the enemies.”

During the preaching, Kiko affirmed that “Christians offer their lives for the enemy” and “God calls us to be perfectly one in Him”. “The Christians, they do not reserve anything, they live in the other as one, they love being one, totally given to the Lord, because ‘be one and the world will believe’. The world is waiting for love to appear.

“Christ has conquered death for us and has given us to participate in his victory over it,” he recalled.

“Do you want to save men from hell, lust, adultery, greed, hatred, war? Do you want to help Jesus Christ to change men and make them one with Him?“, asked the assembly. “Christ wants to save us all from death and He wants us to share in his victory, because Christ has risen! ”.

Together with the suffering of Central America

Before asking for vocations for the priesthood, consecrated life and families for the mission, Fr Mario Pezzi stressed that the Way is an immense gift from the Lord. Many have been baptized, but the “germ of eternal life” that it infuses remains as though dead.

Saint Paul VI on May 8, 1974, referring to the Way said: “you do what the Early church did before Baptism. You do it later. Before or after does not matter because it is important to do it and Christian initiation is necessary ”.

Through Kiko and Carmen, and your catechists, the Lord has given you a gradual and progressive path in which to develop and grow the germ of Baptism which, for the Holy Spirit, has unimaginable forces, until reaching an adult faith in a community.”

In turn, he maintained that “above all today, for the brothers and the communities that find yourself in situations of tribulation and suffering, it is more than ever necessary to be faithful to the celebration of the Word and the Eucharist, in community, to be enlightened and strengthened, to overcome the temptations of discouragement, and of doubting the love of God, remaining tightly clung to the Lord, constantly invoking his help and comfort. We are all in this fight, day by day.”

At the start of the vocational call, Fr. Mario Pezzi stressed: “What could be more wonderful than participating in the mission of Christ! Participating in his power to give life to those who are dead, grant forgiveness to those who feel the weight of their sins, to celebrate the Eucharist that makes us constantly pass from death to life.” “If anyone feels the call of God to the priesthood, to the consecrated life or to evangelization, it is a gift that the Lord gives you. Do not be afraid!”, he finished.

For her part, Ascensión Romero recalled the WYD in Santiago de Compostela “I saw that the invitation of Saint John Paul II to be a saint was the only way to be happy.” “In the vocational meeting later in Zaragoza, I knew that the Lord was calling me to follow him like my only husband. “

“I have been in Russia for 25 years announcing the Gospel and the Lord has always comforted me. It has allowed me to see countless miracles, so many people that, upon hearing the kerygma, their lives have changed. God is very good and will not disappoint you”, she concluded.

“A true Panama canal of spirituality”

After the vocational call, in light of the generous response of the young people, Cardinal O’Malley concluded the meeting with a few words of enthusiasm and thanks. He started by congratulating Kiko on his 80th birthday: “I want to congratulate Kiko because on January 9 he has turned 80 years old.” “This man is like a true spiritual ‘Panama Canal’ through which many waters have passed and have touched many sleeping Catholics with the baptismal waters that they have now become renewed Catholics”, he stressed.

The Archbishop of Boston also stated that “the conversion of Kiko has in turn allowed the conversion of many people and we are very grateful for their vocation and for the Neocatechumenal Way, which is a special grace for the Church ”.

Kiko is a troubadour of God like his patron Saint Francis, who with his music and art helps to discover the beauty of the love of God present in our lives. But most important is the radical response to his call to receive Jesus as a disciple.”

The availability of so many young people and families to serve Jesus Christ was met with the surprise of a fireworks show that gave the meeting a true party ending.