Friday, March 14, 2014


In "Diana's" response to me on her comment string, "she" mentions the "letter of a priest with a Ph.D." To her this Ph.D is quite important because apparently "a priest with a Ph.D" is all that is needed to authenticate the liturgical practices of the Way even though they remain at variance with what is permitted. 
Yesterday, I received a phone call from one of Diana's supporters who also referenced the letter. He couldn't understand how I could still question the practices of the Way when there was a "priest with a Ph.D" who had stated in a letter that the "Eucharists" he had witnessed in his 25 years in the Way "have been in conformity with the relevant rubrics and used the approved liturgical books of the Roman Rite."

Since such great weight is attached to this letter, I decided to take a look this morning at who this "priest with a Ph.D" was, and what letter he had written. I must say, I got quite a tickle when I saw who it was. For just this past Sunday, after reading his letter on the internet where he makes this claim, I had sent a letter of my own to this very "priest with a Ph.D". 

The "priest with a Ph.D" is Fr. Neil X. O'Donoghue. I have known Fr. Neil since the early years of the establishment of Redemptoris Mater Seminary here on Guam. In fact, in the early days of the Catholic Evidence Guild we were his guests a few times at the seminary where we had some of our meetings. Fr. Neil is still listed as a "stable" member of the faculty of the Blessed Diego Institute even though he lives in Ireland and is the pastor of a parish.

Not long ago, I ran into him here on Guam and we had a cordial conversation. He is also a close personal friend with my business partner who is one of the original founders of the Catholic Evidence Guild, and who now lives in Minnesota. In fact, since Fr. Neil's email address on the Blessed Diego website is no longer valid (probably 10 years old like everything else), I had to contact my partner to get Fr. Neil's current address. 

I had decided to write Fr. Neil because I had come upon the letter "Diana" references while doing my own research. And because Fr. Neil and I know each other, I felt I could ask him straight up what was going on and that he would give me a straight up answer. I have yet to receive the answer and was going to send him a follow up email even today when I decided to look to see who was this "priest with a Ph.D" who seems so important to "Diana" and her group. 

So just a note, "Diana" (and the person who called me), Fr. Neil and I go way back. We've known each other since 2003 and have had rare but good conversations. You see, Diana, you claim to know more about the Way than I do because you have been "walking" for eight years. However, I have been intimately engaged with the leaders of the Way much further back than that. 

As I mentioned to you in a comment, I have spent many hours conversing with the likes of Fr. Neil, Fr. Walsh, Fr. Ivan, Fr. Giovanni, Fr. Jim (one of the first rectors) and many of the first seminarians. I even used to hold my Catholic Adult Study Group at the seminary and some of the seminarians who are now priests would attend and we would have lively discussions. 

In 2004, I started a Catholic information table at the Wednesday night market at the Chamorro Village and the seminarians would join me to pass out Catholic literature and talk to people. We would have many conversations during those hours. I also was invited on several occasions to join the seminarians for mid-day Liturgy of the Hours and to stay for lunch, an invitation I often accepted. I was at the seminary quite often in those days because one of my businesses serviced their kitchen with cleaning supplies and the dispensing system for their dish machine. 

So Diana, you see, one of the reasons I was so vastly interested in the Neocatechumenal Way and why I wanted to speak to these priests and seminarians was two fold: 1) I sensed that they had the kind of devotion to the priesthood that I felt was critically needed in the church and wanted to know more about them, and 2) I was terribly concerned that the perception of the Neocatechumenal Way in the local community as a parallel church would one day lead to a rupture. I was concerned about this for two reasons: 1) the much discussed differences in the liturgy, and 2) the perception that the Archbishop had sided with the Neocatechumenal Way and against the rest of the church.

And all this was before the "Arinze letter" and the Archbishop's infamous rejection of papal authority on our Catholic radio station in January of 2006. In fact, I remember hearing it on the radio and thinking "Oh my G_d! This is what I had been hoping would not happen." I had a serious sinking feeling at that moment. The battle lines had just been drawn. The conversation on KOLG continued and got hotter as callers called in. I can remember Fr. Mike, the show's host, trying desperately to save the sinking situation. 

The seriousness of that episode was not lost on the Archbishop or Fr. Mike. But the damage had been done. The only thing that could be done then was to limit the damage by not rebroadcasting the show as was normally done the following afternoon and twice again two days later. The order was given to pull the show, but nobody told my son what to say. You see, Diana, my son was the technician who was running the station. And when the phone at KOLG began ringing off the hook that afternoon with people wanting to know what happened to the rebroadcast of the show - and by then there were hundreds who had gotten the word  - all my son could say was "I don't know. They just told me not to play it." 

Ah, so you see what happened. The fury snowballed. First, the Archbishop had publicly taken sides with the NCW against the rest of the local church (you'll understand when you hear it). Second, he had ridiculed the authority of the Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Pope, himself. Third, he had made it clear that he believed that one had to be "walking" to participate in the "fullness" of the faith, whereas the rest of us, at best, had nothing more than an immature faith (Kiko is big on that). And then the recording of the show was made to suddenly disappear without explanation! 

Many people - as you might expect - were enraged, so much so that a secret meeting was called, with the Archbishop present, to concoct a reason for the show's disappearance that could be said on the air so that Fr. Mike could continue with the show without having to field angry questions for months to come. 

I am not ready, Diana, to tell you what happened at that meeting, nor am I ready to post the whole show, but I will say this: that the conflict you and I are now embroiled in had its roots at that meeting. I saw with my own eyes just how far certain leaders of the Way were willing to go to keep the truth from people. In that one instance, the curtain was pulled back just far enough for me to see who the wizard really was and who was actually pulling the levers, and it was frightening. 

I foresaw all hell breaking loose, at least in this diocese. And that was eight years ago, Diana. Maybe you were not even in the Way yet. So even before you started walking, I had been in and through this thing in ways that people like you who are merely walking have never been. Before you even put on your walking shoes I had been engaged for three solid years with the intellectual leadership of the Neocatechumenal Way and even with the "priest with the Ph.D", who appears to be your only claim to any authentic counter to the evidence which I have presented.

So let me present to you the letter I wrote to the "priest with the Ph.D." As mentioned, I have not heard back yet. I will let you know though if I do. Here is my letter to Fr. Neil O'Donoghue:

March 9, 2014

Dear Father, Greetings from Guam, and thank you in advance for taking the time to consider my inquiry.

Since we know each other, I thought I could approach you with a simple question and get a simple answer. I recently read your response to Magister, and am left with the following questions:

In the neocatechumenal liturgies on Guam, the host is distributed in the following manner:
  1. The priest, before communicating himself, distributes the consecrated bread/host to the communicants who stand, remaining in their place.
  2. All communicants continue holding the host until all have received
  3. There is a period of reflection.
  4. The priest then consumes the host, then invites the other communicants to do likewise. 
Is this only happening on Guam or is this the way neocatechumenal communities receive the sacred species universally?

If this is a universal practice and not just a local practice, could you please advise on where this deviation from the GIRM is permitted? The GIRM requires:
  1. the priest to communicate himself before distributing the sacred species to the communicants
  2. the communicants to immediately consume upon reception.
I have studied the Statute thoroughly and not only do I see no allowance for this, I see the original instruction to conform the distribution of holy communion to the liturgical books (the Arinze letter) reinforced in footnote 49, with the only allowance being that the communicants do not process towards the minister but wait in their place. 

Sadly, this is a major point of contention in our local church because the Archbishop publicly ridiculed the "Arinze" letter upon its release and just as publicly, challenged Arinze's credentials, even though Arinze began his letter: "The Holy Father wishes you to know..." 

We are continually told that the issue was resolved with the approval of the Statute, but I see no evidence of it.  And the debate over the NCW has recently exploded here in Guam for a variety of reasons, but this is one of the big ones. Your explanation will help. 

Thank you. I await your reply and hope all is well.

(Note: I had intended to keep my conversation between Fr. Neil and myself private. But once I discovered that it was his letter (to Sandro Magister) that Diana and others were using to discredit this blog and authenticate their own liturgical license, I felt it necessary that we should discuss the letter here in the open. So my apologies to Fr. Neil. Nevertheless, I still look forward to your reply.)


  1. this is all very disturbing....& happening in my Parish w/ the approval of our Cardinal. ... & it 'happened' as if it had been sprung like a trap.... here we are heading into Holy Week during Lent & talking about 'kiko's way'....???!!... you know, ...& there is NO part of me that can be reconciled.

  2. Glad to be Back to Holy Mother ChurchMarch 14, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    I hope this one blog will put to an end of the oft used argument "Unless you walk in the Way you cannot know or understand what you are talking about".
    Many commenters have walked and are now back to the parish, and others have heard true reflections from family and friends that are no less valid than your experiences.
    Hopefully, we can get down to some serious discussions on what can be done to reunify the serious gap the Archbishop has allowed to foment.
    Diana - I had asked yesterday for your response to two issues I raised regarding self communication and people who should not receive communion being allowed to receive at the Saturday Eucharist.
    I would like to get your thoughts on this please.

  3. Archbishop Apuron, Fr. Pius, NCW members and "conventional" Catholic parishioners of Guam must read Fr. Neil X. O'Donoghue's blog: ODonoghue-response.pdf : following is a word-for-word excerpt "... I (Fr. ODonoghue) do not want to say that the Neocatechumenal Way is the only plank of salvation, thank God the Catholic Church is much bigger than the Neocatechumenal Way. We have a Church that today has many liturgical rites, we have a special form of the liturgy for use in the former Zaire, for use by former Anglicans and those who use the Extraordinary Form are allowed to maintain their particular liturgical spirituality and practices. What binds the Catholic Church together is not uniformity in
    liturgical practice, but unity in belief and faith in communion with the Successor of Peter.
    This past summer I personally attended Mass in at the Opus Dei shrine in Torreciudad
    (Spain), at London’s Brompton Oratory and a Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form
    celebrated by Cardinal Burke at the Fota Liturgical Conference in my native city of Cork (Ireland). While not everything in these celebrations would be my own cup of tea, I have no difficulty in accepting that these are valuable parts of the Church’s liturgical treasury and I appreciate how they can help in the salvation of many souls. In a similar way, the minor liturgical adaptations that have been granted to the Neocatechumenal communities are precisely to help them answer to the needs of the New Evangelization and bring people back to the Church and to a fuller encounter with the Risen Lord".

    1. Thanks for pointing this out. I missed it on the first go around. By comparing the NCW to the other "rites" of the church, O'Donoghue is equating the NCW with a "rite" and in fact, inadvertently admitting the real problem. The NCW is only supposed to be a post-baptismal catechesis within the Latin Church under which it is constituted and by which its Statute is approved. It is NOT a RITE. However, it is quite evident that it considers itself to be by celebrating its liturgy in a manner different than the Latin church.

    2. Father Neil was not comparing the NCW to a rite. He started out by saying that there are many liturgical rites.

      Then he went on to compare the Opus Dei who uses and implements certain rites to the NCW who also uses and implements certain rites different from Opus Dei. What Father Neil is saying is that Opus Dei has liturgical rites different from the NCW and these rites are accepted. The NCW also uses and adapts certain rites accepted by the Vatican. Each one uses accepted rites that is appropriate for its purpose.

    3. Um, wasn't it you who was telling us that the reason everyone at your liturgy holds on to the hosts is because everyone is a "concelebrant"?

    4. What has this have to do with what I just said? I was clarifying what you mistakenly thought. Father Neil wasn't comparing the NCW to any rite. He was comparing the NCW to the Opus Dei. Both of them use rites.

    5. Well, since you didn't know the difference between a concelebrant and a communicant, I wonder if you know the difference between a Rite and a rite.

  4. If this Priest lives in Ireland how come he is listed as a staff member of rms Guam.

    1. Except for Fr. Walsh, I don't think any of them live here. They really should be classified as "visiting professors" but then they might not get the "affiliation" status they need from the Lateran if they did that.

  5. Tim you posted that you "have spent many hours conversing with the likes of Fr. Neil, Fr. Walsh, Fr. Ivan, Fr. Giovanni, Father Jim"... did you ask them about the practices of the Neocatechumenal. You attended the noon prayer and even had lunch w them - a great opportunity to get answers... or were they not issues then?

    1. Excuse me, but you're an IDIOT, another fine example of what the NCW produces.

    2. I do not understand you Tim. You say there are many good people on the NCW, but yet you generalize them as idiots. Ha. You argument is filled with hate, not faith.

    3. I called one person an idiot. But feel free to join him.

  6. As Tim posted, and as the list of professors for RSM was previously shown online.
    It is evident that the large majority of the "teachers" listed on the faculty at RSM Guam has either not visited Guam in a very long time, or at best are visiting professors.
    Fr O'Donoghue for example was listed as rector of the school for deacons at RSM in New Jersey until 2011, date at which he seems to have gone back to Ireland.
    Another Student of Fr O'Donoghue in New Jersey ( Mr Thomman) is also cited in the Faculty of RSM Guam while he actually was studying in New York, and writing a book on NCW at the same period.
    A busy schedule for somebody close to 80 years old.
    Same issues with many of the listed professor. It is obvious that the majority of them should be listed as visiting professors. If they are still showing up for class....

  7. We should have an open town hall meeting on Guam where we can all attend with the archbishop. We would be able to propose our concerns and questions directly to the archbishop and in a spirit of openness he would

    1. A town hall meeting will never happen. The archbishop is a proud man. He needs the okay from Father Pius the head honcho Catechist of Guam.

    2. As an active parishioner for many years and have attended many meetings with the Archbishop present I can tell you that he is not able to lead. A meeting with him will go no where. Not juust me but others can tell you he just sits there. He doesn't talk. If he says something it is vague and not much meat. No I dont think meetings will do anything good. Our leader is just not able to have good ideas. Why do you think he lets others decide for him?

    3. I would agree that there is no hope for a productive meeting, but not because of the Archbishop's inabilities, but because long ago he threw in his lot with Kiko. Regardless of what happens to him here, Kiko will take care of him, or at least that's what he thinks. Wonder what will really happen when the Archbishop is no longer of any use to Kiko.

  8. Not only do we have a group that is not respecting the teaching authority of the church. It appears the neo is also very economical with the truth of facts.

  9. Wonder if they would ask Father Walsh to retract his comment, or explain it to adhere to NCW agenda.

    I also wonder what strict discipline would be imposed on him.

    1. There is nothing for Fr. Walsh to retract. He was just repeating a reality if you are a Neo: "We have no choice...Kiko has spoken." But perhaps you are mixing him up with Fr. Giovanni Rizzo, the priest who modified the Catechism in the big PDN spread about the seminary back in 2010. What makes his actions more amazing is that he was at the time Vice-Rector of the Seminary and is also a lawyer by trade. Oops. Maybe that explains it. (lawyer joke).

      Rizzo engaged me after my letter to the Archbishop. It was at the annual shindig gala thing to raise money for the seminary. It was typical neo speak. He said he was only paraphrasing the Catechism and that it could be interpreted to mean "in the center" instead of "is the center". I stuck to my guns, saying, "Fine, Father. But you included the paragraph number from the Catechism. That makes it an authentic quote, not a paraphrase." He continued his argument and I stuck with mine. Bottom line, he changed the words of the Catechism to justify a neo practice. This is common stuff with these guys, all the way up to the top, and in this case, the Vice-Rector. Should we then be surprised that everyone else feels they can make it up as they go along? Diana? Remember: YOU ARE PAYING FOR THIS!

  10. Pius, the itenerant catechist in-charge of Guam is not the head honcho. He takes and clears it from Giuseppe and the itenerant catechist of USA.any move he does has to be cleared.
    By the way, i know personally Fr. Neil, he was a year under me in RMS in New Jersey.