Visit to the parish of Our Lady of Coromoto 3-15-1981
S. John Paul II
Rome, March 15, 1981 *
Pausing briefly with the members of the association of bocce players, recently formed to help the elderly in the area, John Paul II came back to the Church where the parish priest introduced the Neocatechumenal Communities that, for some years, have been part of life in the parish.
“This is the group of brothers of the Neocatechumenal Way -said Monsignor Gulizia. – Along with them is the team of catechists, from the parish of the Canadian Martyrs, who in January 1970 came to our parish to start the catechesis for the Neocatechumenal Way. Eleven years have passed, Holy Father, and we can say that, after various vicissitudes, sufferings and joys, this Way has become concrete, being firm in its maturity on the path of faith and in service to the parish and its needs. Present are the itinerant priests and also a large group of catechists preparing the youth for Confirmation, because this sector of parish evangelization, together with preparation for Baptism and with the catechesis for engaged couples, is entrusted to these brothers. Holy Father, this is the reality of our parish community and one of the signs of an ecclesial communion which builds in our parish the kingdom of God.”
The joy and gratitude of being able to meet the Pope once again who already, in other pastoral visits, has had the opportunity to meet the Neocatechumenal Communities, was expressed on behalf of everyone present by Giampiero, catechist of the parish of Our Lady of Coromoto.
“It is a great joy for us,” -he said, among other things- “to see you here, especially after the homily that you have given us today.” He ended with a question: “Where are the collaborators of the bishop for the evangelization? Well, we are here to tell you that we are ready to answer your call. In particular, we want to introduce you to the first community that soon will start going to the houses, two by two, to announce with simplicity and humility the Kingdom of God, to announce Jesus Christ to all the inhabitants of the neighborhood.
It is essential – Giampiero continued – to announce to the man of today the Good News of the Gospel, the love of God who manifested himself on the Cross of Jesus Christ, showing himself as the one who loves the sinner. Today’s world no longer believes that it is God who take initiative as with Abraham. Today’s man doesn’t believe anymore, he thinks that it is he who takes the first step. Therefore – said the catechist concluding – it is necessary to return to announcing to this world the love of God. This is essential to announce, otherwise the whole Gospel is lost if the love to the sinner is not announced. But how can we announce this? How can we be witnesses if we are not sent? How can we be sent if we have not had the experience of Jesus Christ before? So it is important to open, inside the parish, a path where everyone can be progressively gestated to faith and where your faith can be made finally missionary, a witness to the world.» After Giampiero, two other catechists told the Pope their experience and apostolate in their families, indicating the difficulties that stand in the way of announcing the Christian message in this new way, but also showing the enthusiasm that animates them.
The Holy Father responded by saying among other things:
«I wish you to grow in this living experience of your Baptism. Your testimonials are always very interesting because they come from a lived experience, lived internally, personally, from a purely religious experience, evangelical. I want to bless your groups and your Neocatechumenal Way, which is your way, but also the way to encounter the other. Blessing everyone here, I want to bless all those to whose doors you seek welcome; welcome for your word, for your catechetical mission. I bless you from the heart and I wish you to grow in this faith, in this living experience of your baptism. We, as Saint Paul also tells us, must behave a little like newborns, like children, and we should behave in this way throughout life, because Baptism determines our whole life with a gift, an incomprehensible gift; the gift of the divine filiation; the gift of being like the Son of God, children of God, children in the Son. This is the Good News, the Gospel. Live this and making others live it is spreading the Gospel ».
(*) Cfr. «L’Osservatore Romano», 16-17 March 1981.