Diocesan News

Bishop Celebrates Pentecost With Neo-Catechumenal Way

By Jorge Dominguez

During the Pentecost Vigil at St. James Cathedral-Basilica on Saturday, May 19, Father Julio Cesar Sanchez Malagon baptized six children.
Bishop DiMarzio with the rector of the new seminary, Father Julio Cesar Sanchez Malagon, and eight of the 12 young men who are going to study for the priesthood in the new house of formation, Redemptoris Mater Seminary.
Photos: Jorge Dominguez

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio announced the creation of a new seminary in the Diocese of Brooklyn during the Pentecost Vigil with members of the Neo-catechumenal Way at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, Downtown Brooklyn, on Saturday, May 19.

The new college-level seminary will be located at the Cathedral House of Formation in Douglaston and will train priests in the tradition of the Neo-catechumenal movement.

The Vigil Mass was concelebrated by Msgr. Renato Grasselli, the rector of Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Newark, N.J.; and Fathers Jorge Ortiz, administrator of the St. Brigid’s parish, Bushwick; Vincenzo Cardilicchia, pastor of the All Saints, Williamsburg; Elky Reyes, of the Archdiocese of Newark, and Julio Cesar Sanchez Malagon.

More than 700 people participated in the three-and-a-half-hour-long service. The Pentecost Vigil is a feast that usually brings together members of the Neo-catechumenal Way in each diocese.

Also attending the vigil were Giuseppe and Claudia Gennarini, who coordinated the Neo-catechumenal Way in the United States together with Father Angelo Pochetti. Giuseppe Gennarini addressed the faithful at the beginning of the celebration to explain the significance of the vigil and thanked Bishop DiMarzio for his support.

As with other seminaries run by the Neo-catechumenal Way, the new house of formation will be called Redemptoris Mater Seminary.

A Dozen Candidates

According to Father Ortiz, a member of the movement, the seminary will start with 12 candidates to the priesthood – eight seminarians from the Brooklyn Diocese who have been studying in the Neo-catechumenal seminary in Newark, plus four new seminarians who will start their studies this year.

“The seminaries don’t belong to the Neo-catechumenal Way,” explains Father Ortiz, “but to the diocese. The formation at the Redemptoris Mater seminaries is led by members of the movement. Usually the rector, the director of formation and the spiritual director come from the Neo-catechumenal Way, but we form priests for the dioceses.”

Father Sanchez Malagón will be the rector of the new house of formation, which will be located at the Cathedral House of Formation, Douglaston, where Brooklyn and Queens college and pre-theologian seminarians are already living.

The celebration at St. James Cathedral followed the extended form of the Vigil Mass for Pentecost, which includes four readings and four psalms, the epistle and the Gospel. Father Sanchez Malagon baptized six children – five of them by immersion – during the vigil, which also included several testimonies from lay members of the Neo-catechumenal Way.

In her testimony, Ana Maria Diaz, a member of the first Neo-catechumenal community of St. Paul, said that after an operation years ago, her doctors told her she had two days to live. In response, she told them: “‘Where man finishes, God starts.’ To the glory of the Blood of Christ, I am here today, I am alive. I have a new life and I thank God for it.”

During his homily, Bishop DiMarzio quoted Pope Francis’ words during the recent celebration of the 50th anniversary of the movement: “Go. The mission demands that we leave. In life, there is a strong temptation to remain, not to take risks, to be content with having the situation under control. It is easier to stay at home, surrounded by those who love us, but it is not Jesus’ way. He sends us out.”

“The mission of the Neo-catechumenal Way,” the bishop added, “is one that – to me – is the offer of yourselves, of your lives, to reach out and to ask, ‘Can I do more for Christ, can I be truly a missionary?’ I don’t have to go to China, let’s stay in my own parish, my own neighborhood, and be a missionary, to reach out to others, to share my faith with them; not to be ashamed to really be a missionary of Christ.”

The Neo-catechumenal movement was founded by Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, two Spanish laypersons, 50 years ago. Today it is present in almost 900 dioceses of 120 countries. It also conducts 120 seminaries.

Reflecting on the celebration, but also in the history of the movement, Father Ortiz said: “We are here to overcome all barriers with the message of Jesus Christ. Look around, you see young people and elders, Hispanics and Chinese and Anglos, young families and grandparents – It’s the Holy Spirit! And that is what we are celebrating.”