In the early 1960s, successful yet dissatisfied Spanish artist Kiko Arguello sought greater spirituality. Arguello wondered about the spiritual meaning to life, or even if God existed at all. For answers, he moved into a shantytown with only a guitar and a Bible. There, he encountered violence and addiction as well as the deeper issues of interior wounds and despair.
He met Carmen Hernandez, a lay missionary. Through common work of evangelization, they realized that evangelization wasn't solely about communicating information. Rather, they had to invite individuals to a process of personal conversion. Thus began the Neocatechumenal Way. Arguello and Hernandez sought to bring together people who wanted to live for Christ in a deeper way. This "school of Christians" was based on three pillars: Scripture, Eucharist and Christian community.
Their work, "The Way," quickly gained the Church's attention. When police began to tear down their shantytown, the Archbishop of Madrid learned about the spiritual work that would end. He invited them to catechize in the parishes of the Madrid diocese and introduced "The Way" in the Diocese of Rome.
In 1997, Pope St. John Paul II invited Arguello and Hernandez to normalize the Neocatechumenal Way through written statutes, which received Vatican approval in June 2008. The documents used in catechesis were approved by the Vatican in 2010.
Hernandez died in Madrid on July 19, 2016.
Currently in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, a missionary family works to spread the Neocatechumenal Way. Any missionary family first receives permission from the local bishop to work in a diocese, then from the pastor to work in a particular parish.
With permission granted, the missionaries advertise catechetical sessions over a course of weeks. These help to deepen a person's knowledge of the faith and personal conversion to Christ. Then, session attendees are invited to form a community based on the three pillars of The Way. As part of the community, they might still meet a couple of times per week for prayer and for worship, as well as to deepen their communal life.
The goal of the community is to make the individual believer more intentional about his/her faith and deepen one's desire to live it out in the fullest way possible in all aspects of life. Though the movement might not be for everyone, it's a powerful way to deepen a person's faith and relationship with the Lord, the Church, and other Christians.
Father Mayo is pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Warrenton. RELATED ARTICLE(S):Dear Father | Act of Contrition gets to the heart of confession