NEO-CATECHUMENAL WAY (Religious Movement)

NCW is an organization within Roman Catholicism, started in Madrid in the early 1960s by two lay people, Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, which soon spread to Rome and beyond. It was their conviction that Catholics are ill-prepared for life in a secularized, even pagan, society. To become better able to withstand and to evangelize the modern world all Catholics in their parishes need to undergo the thorough process of conversion, learning, and liturgical celebration (lived out through regular meetings in small communities) which the NCW provides and which it believes reflects the practice of the early Church. The process of renewal is in stages: with emphases on listening to the ‘Word of God’, in the scriptures and in the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church; on personal prayer, reflection on the great phases of the ‘history of salvation’ and on the Church’s central beliefs as found in the Creeds; on sharing the faith with others; and finally on learning to ‘abandon themselves to the will of the Father’ and live in a spirit of praise and thanks-giving to God. Each stage is marked by special liturgies and the whole process can take up to twenty years to complete. The parish priest is at the centre of the NCW communities, thereby putting the NCW at the centre of parish life. This makes it difficult for those who do not wish to be part of the NCW to continue as active members of the parish community. Non-NCW members say they are made to feel like second class Catholics. As a result, some diocesan bishops have banned the NCW from meeting on Church premises. To take an example, one practice that has caused division is that, unlike the two or three hour service in most Roman Catholic parishes, the service for the Easter Vigil in NCW parishes begins at midnight and continues until dawn on Easter Day. NCW has over 500,000 members located in about ninety countries. It runs some forty international seminaries and in Rome has charge of over a quarter of the parishes. It is a leading member of the group of about fifty ‘new ecclesial movements and communities’ in the Roman Catholic Church which meets regularly under the auspices of the Vatican.

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