Audience with the Families of the Way 12-12-1994
St. John Paul II
Vatican City, December 12, 1994
John Paul II received in audience on the morning of Monday, December 12, the families of the Neocatechumenal Way. During the meeting, which took place in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father gave the following speech:
“Dear brothers and sisters! 1. Welcome to the See of Peter, which today is for many of you like a port where candles are released: you have indeed come for a special missionary shipment, which directly affects more than two hundred families, but that justly implies the respective communities of belonging. This is not the first meeting of the Pope with the families of the Neocatechumenal Way. On other occasions I have been able to see groups of the movement. I remember, in particular, the meeting in 1988, in Porto San Giorgio, when I celebrated the Eucharist with you on the Feast of the Holy Family, and I gave the crucifix to 72 families who were leaving for the itinerant service. In that circumstance I spoke to you about the Trinity on mission and the family on mission. The current one is linked to that meeting, which arrives enriched by the path of these years, in which the Church has pressed the step towards the third Christian millennium. Today, in addition, we place ourselves in a very precise framework: the Year of the Family, which is already ending and which had its culminating moment on October 8 and 9 of last year, when in the Plaza de San Pedro many families from all the world were gathered.
Looking forward, we see the great Jubilee of 2000 close at hand, for whose preparation I have addressed to all the people of God the “Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio adveniente“.The Church, Family of families, is firmly directed towards such a goal and it is very important that the most united and missionary reaches it possible, embraced in charity around the one Lord and at the same time projected by his Holy Spirit to the evangelization of the world.
2.The Year of the Family has constituted for the whole Church above all a choral profession of faith of families in God the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier of life. In this Year it is emerging with force to the Church’s consciousness and in the eyes of the world the familiar dimension of what the Vatican calls “participation of the laity in the prophetic function of Christ” (Lumen Gentium, n. 35).
The family, as “small Church” and “domestic community”, is called to exercise a priestly, prophetic, royal service. This is what the Council expressly emphasizes: “In this order of functions, that state of life appears which is sanctified by a special sacrament: married and family life” (ibid). The roots of such a vocation are naturally found in Baptism, and the Neocatechumenal Way consists precisely in an itinerary of rediscovery of Baptism. It is very significant, therefore, that the Communities commit not only individuals, but also families, ready to face in common agreement, without prejudice to the duties of the conjugal pact, the difficulties and responsibilities that such a task entails.
3. Today, dear brothers and sisters, you are here to witness the missionary and prophetic dimension of your journey of faith. And you want to emphasize that this missionary dimension dresses the family as such, since the baptismal rebirth does not touch its components only individually, but involves them all together, committing them as a family community in a deeper bond of unity in Charity and in a more lively missionary impulse. Here, beloved, what is at the root of your “departure”. Never forget it! The Crucifix that you will receive reminds you every day that if you have gone on mission, it is because you have been reached before, renewed by the merciful love of God, as families for families.
Go, then, dear missionary families.The grace of Baptism, Confirmation and Marriage, renewed in the Eucharist and in Reconciliation will sustain you in all of life’s moments. Strong for this supernatural support, stay ready to bear witness to the hope that is in you (cf. 1P 3, 15).The Holy Family of Nazareth be your model and your patron saint. Accompanying you also is the the Apostolic Blessing, which I now impart heart to you and your Communities ».
120 families of the Neocatechumenal Way have received the missionary sending of the Holy Father. They come from Italy, Spain, Poland, India and Ireland. They will take the proclamation of the Gospel to 40 countries on the five continents. The countries in Europe that will benefit from the missionary work of these families are, among others, Croatia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Finland and Germany. In America, new families on mission will proclaim the Word in the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Colombia and Venezuela.
Families destined for Asia will give their testimony of faith in Japan, India, Taiwan and the Philippines. Among the African countries to which the itinerant service of these families is directed are Egypt, Ivory Coast and Ethiopia. For these 120 families, who have 441 children, it is a task as arduous as it is exultant: to give witness to Christ in regions of the earth already evangelized but threatened by secularization, and in areas that do not yet know the Gospel. A task called to develop in two aspects, closely linked by the sign of fidelity to evangelical radicalism.
The meeting included theCardinal López Trujillo, Archbishop Maximino Romero, the bishops Jan Pawel Lenga, Paul Cordes, Luis Boccadoro and Julio Salimei. They were also present, Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández, initiators of theNeocatechumenal Way. 180 families of the Camino have also participated who have been working on mission land for some time.