Cardinal Seán O’Malley and the Neocatechumenal Way
For the Boston Pilot Special Edition on the 50th Anniversary of Cardinal Seán’s ordination to the priesthood, Tom Noé of the Neocatechumenal Center of Boston, wrote a beautiful article on the Cardinal’s relationship with the Neocatechumenal Way. Defined by St. John Paul II as “an itinerary of Catholic formation, valid for our society and for our times,” this charism is also where all our seminarians discovered their vocation to the priesthood.
CARDINAL SEÁN AND THE NEOCATECHUMENAL WAY
It is with a grateful heart that we celebrate the 50th anniversary of priestly ordination of Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley. From the beginning of his ministry in the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cardinal has been attentive to the “signs of the times” and has shown respect for the movements of the Holy Spirit, such as the Neocatechumenal Way, which St. John Paul II defined as “an itinerary of Catholic formation, valid for our society and for our times”.
Cardinal Seán appreciates the beautiful connection between the institutional and the charismatic dimension of the Church. He has welcomed into the Archdiocese many charisms that have enlivened and given renewed impetus to the mission of the Church to “Go and make disciples… and teach them” (Mt 28:19-20). Among these, there is the Neocatecumenal Way, which was brought to Boston in the late 70’s by Msgr. Peter Hart, and under Cardinal Sean’s vision and encouragement, has expanded from one to eight parishes in the Archdiocese. Today, in the 30 communities present in East Boston, Marlborough, Lowell, Lawrence, Brockton, Lynn, Revere, Chelsea, Jamaica Plain and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, priests and lay people are discovering the call to holiness as they rediscover the graces of their baptism. Then in 2005, the Cardinal also opened the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary to welcome international vocations from the Neocatechumenal Way and to prepare priests to serve the needs of the Archdiocese and beyond. In his missionary zeal and the desire to reach the unchurched and the disenfranchised, Cardinal Seán also established three Missio ad Gentes communities, which are made up of a group of families who, together with a priest give a public witness of the love of God and of the presence of the Church beyond the physical structure of church buildings.
The Neocatechumenal Way is born from the announcement of the Good News and is based on a synthesis between the Word of God, the Liturgy and the Community. In this profoundly existential itinerary, the Word of God is celebrated as a light that opens the way to the Eucharist and that expresses itself in the communion among the brothers and sisters. This is why on a number of occasions Cardinal Seán has presided over a ceremony at which the faithful receive the Bible from the hands of the Apostle to signify the importance of reading and interpreting the Sacred Texts in communion with the Tradition and the living wisdom of the Church.
The celebration of the sacraments (Eucharist, Reconciliation) in the context of the small community allows for a greater participation of the faithful and for the discovery of the Eucharist as the “summit and source of all Christian life”. As Cardinal Seán has witnessed when he presided at the Eucharist in the Neocatechumenal community, this experience of the love of God not only touches the mind and the heart of every person but also begets a profound gratitude to God and to the Church that paves the way for authentic moral change.
In a world that seeks to separate man from God, the Cardinal’s recent exhortation to all Catholics to “take care of each other” echoed profoundly in the Neocatechumenal Way. In fact, the celebration of the faith in a community overcomes the dangers of anonymity and isolation and leads us to see that “the other is Christ”.
Thanks to Cardinal Sean’s prophetic discernment, many people today have found the Lord. On behalf of the many couples that have been saved from divorce, on behalf of the countless youth who have discovered the joy of the Gospel, on behalf of the many vocations to the priesthood that have arisen: thank you for your support of the Neocatechumenal Way and Congratulations on this beautiful milestone!
Thomas G. Noé
(Neocatechumenal Way Center, Boston)