The Neo-Catechumenal Way from Alotau to Wewak
By Fr Giorgio Licini. Giovanni Trentin is only 22, but already a missionary to Papua New Guinea. He arrived in Wewak last August 29 along with Milena Croce and Fr Eugenio Zuria. Giovanni was born in Australia from Italian parents, while Milena, now 50, left her native Italy at 32 to be a missionary to Sweden. Fr Eugenio is from Venezuela but studied and was ordained in Perth, Australia. They are the itinerant community assigned to PNG by the Neo-Catechumenal Way, a ministry which aims at the rediscovering one’s baptismal promises and commitment.
Is your ministry new to Papua New Guinea?
MILENA. No, we are new to Wewak but not to Papua New Guinea. We came to Alotau three years ago upon invitation of then diocesan Bishop Francesco Panfilo SDB. In 2011 and 2012 we conducted catechetical activities there, which led to the rise of a first community of about 60 committed lay people.
What are the basic contents of the catechesis?
FR. EUGENIO. We invite whomever from a parish or a community may be willing to join, though we try to target mostly those who are not so active in the Church or do not give much importance to faith in their lives. We try to help them rediscover the mystery and the gift of Baptism, which confers a new life and new dignity on the human person. We try to establish communities of believers, so that the members can help each other on their journey and be more faithful to their Baptism.
GIOVANNI. In Wewak we are going to start in a settlement in the suburb of Kaindi upon invitation of parish priest Fr. Caspar Talmai. It is important to stress that not only we target the lapsed Catholics, but we insist on the family. The family is the place for the transmission of faith. Prayer is essential. No prayer, no family, no society of happy people. I see my mates in Australia. They have jobs and money. They want more of it, because they are not happy. Often they are spiritually empty.
Is the parish priest to be involved in the ministry when you take it to a parish?
FR. EUGENIO. The parish priest doesn’t need to become a full member of the ministry. However, he must be willing to advise and support it; we also need him to preside at the community Mass on Saturday night and hear Confessions on schedules. The same may apply to the diocesan Bishop.
Are the parishes and the dioceses open to the Neo-Catechumenal Way?
MILENA. In PNG it is still quite new. So far, we only have a community in Alotau. The objection we hear most from parishes and dioceses is that they already have their Basic Christian Communities. Sometimes they also say that we have just arrived and cannot have a grasp of the people and the culture. We agree that we need to learn. In any case our focus would be in trying to close the gap between faith and life, which frequently contradict each other. We noticed that people here are listening, they are open to the Word of God and they are willing to apply it to their lives.
GIOVANNI. The goal is to help the person to develop an intimate relationship with Christ, to rediscover the faith and bring it to its fullest. We notice that those far away in Christian faith and practice are more open to change and renewal than those who are always around in the parish.
Do you see the Neo-Catechumenal Way as an asset for the New Evangelization?
FR. EUGENIO. We have always thought of ourselves in those terms especially after Pope John Paul II started developing this idea. (CBC Communications 110912 – firstname.lastname@example.org)