From: Lester Gonzales
Sent: Monday, 5 January 2015 15:56
Subject: Letter from a Concerned Catholic from Guam
Archbishop Martin Krebs
Apostolic Nuncio to Guam and Oceania
P.O.Box 14044, 112 Queen's Drive,
Wellington, New Zealand
January 5, 2015
Your Excellency Archbishop Martin Krebs,
My name is Lester Gonzales. I am a parishioner of the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica. For the past 12 years, under the leadership of Monsignor James Benavente, I served as an Altar Server Mass Coordinator and Master Of Ceremonies for Liturgical Events.
My wife and I were part of the Neocatechumenal Way. We have heard stories previously to when we became members. We were told that it had created a division in the Church. We were told that Archbishop Apuron favored the Neo. We also heard stories of families separating and marriages failing because they are not in agreement with the Neo ways.
Unfortunately for us, we endured a traumatic experience in our life, the loss of our first born son. Because of that we became a target as a newcomer to the Neo. We were told that the Neo can be a tool to help enhance our faith and give us a better understanding of why God chose to recruit our baby as one of his angels.
However, after overcoming our having been momentarily blinded by what we were taught, we came to the realization that there were several things about the Neo that were not being handled properly. Therefore, after two years, we decided to leave our community.
There were several reasons why we left.
First, the NCW Catechists are not in line with church liturgy. We were manipulated to believe that it was okay to consume the body of Christ together as one. We had to wait until every person received the Body of Christ before we could consume it. At the time, it did not dawn on me how liturgically inappropriate it was to do so in that fashion. The NCW Catechists told us that the Pope approved of this.
Second, instead of increasing my Catholic faith, it felt more like I was made to be a member of a cult. In year two, I was delegated to become the acting responsible for my community. The Catechist informed me that I had to be very involved, which included the preparations of the celebrations as well as the additional meetings and gatherings that I had to make time for.
The required amount of time that we had to commit really hurt my marriage. The commitment my wife and I had to give took a huge toll on us and we were arguing and fighting almost every day due to the fact of my involvement with the group.
Being a NCW Responsible meant we had to keep our community as a whole and make certain that our numbers do not diminish. We were fifty members when we were born as a community. Some brothers would eventually leave the community little at a time and that would mean more work to fulfill.
My wife and I had just had our second son and we were tasked to be in attendance for all of the celebrations of the Word and Eucharist because some members were not available. When we had our convivence (retreat) if the trash bag (collection) does not collect enough for the bill, we were left to find ways to pay for it.
With our already existing financial struggles, another is added. The only advice provided by the Catechists is that God will provide for us. For two years, I have lived with that phrase as if I expect God to throw money at me miraculously. This was another burden we had to add to our lives that just made it worse.
Third, they led us to believe that whatever life throws at you, it is your cross to carry. Therefore, whatever situation we may encounter such as the fighting between my spouse and I, the catechists says simply to have courage and to accept it because that is what God has blessed you to have or that it is God's plan for us.
Currently, Archbishop Apuron has created many angry Catholics on this island but he will not see that it is his fault. To him, it is what God has placed in his life to face- to carry that cross.
Fourth, the catechists instill in you that you are in the NCW for your salvation. The catechist preached to us that Salvation is found only in the Neocatechumenal Way. No one is important in your life but God. To put it short, if you want to go to heaven, save yourself by being obedient in the Way. If your other family members don’t walk the Way, they may or will not be saved.
The term "family" is not as important as what you need to be for God. Being in the NCW is an easy ticket to heaven. Your purpose in life is to be involved in the NCW. Throw away all your luxuries and just be obedient. Actually, we never got further along because if we did, what we hear is that you give all your luxuries and what they do with it is a question.
Fifth, there are a huge amount of hypocrites that roam about and are very much involved in the NCW. They seem to have the mentality that they can commit sin anytime because there will always be the celebrations of the Word and Eucharist to be forgiven. They assume that attending these celebrations are given to allow you to cleanse your soul.
We know people who have been walking in the NCW and still manage to do, think and speak judgments of others. If you have been walking for more than 10 years, one should be able to refrain from making too many judgments. As for committing sins, some of them still do harm and then echo it during the celebrations to be forgiven. It has become a safe net for them.
Sixth, they expect you to be loyal. Since we left, we have been ignored and shunned by most members. We attend mass every Sunday. Actually, even while walking in the NCW, we made it a point to attend both Saturday evening Neo Eucharist and Sunday mass. But because we are no longer involved, despite the fact that we do attend Sunday regular mass, to them, we have been taken by the devil. And so, our brothers pray for our return because we are apparently lost and confused.
Lastly, they pressure you to have your baby baptized on EASTER Vigil. Our son was one of those who had to wait to be baptized. At that time he was already 6 months old. I do not normally believe in waiting that long for a baptism but we couldn't say no either. You just feel pressured and so we decided to proceed with that schedule. In addition, we were told that since Archbishop Apuron was to preside at the celebration it was a better way to get our son baptized and receive the blessing.
Easter Vigil started at 10 in the evening until 4-5am the next day. Fortunately, we have very supportive family who attended the dreadful long hours. Our families have not been accustomed to the Way but they did not complain because they love us. Yet, as I mentioned earlier, that love should not matter because you are destined to save yourself in the NCW according to the catechist.
Months passed and my wife brought it to my attention that we have not received our son's baptismal certificate. Therefore, I inquired with the chancery and when I did, I was told that they have no documents of a baptism held on Easter Vigil. The event happened at the Bishop Baumgartner gymnasium in the village of Sinajana. Because it was in Sinajana, St Jude Parish would be the rightful place to obtain the certificate but they did not have any baptismal documents.
I called the Chancery and they informed me that it should be at the Cathedral Basilica Pastoral Center and so I requested it from the staff there as well. Just like St Jude parish there is no documentation of the baptism. I spoke to Monsignor James Benavente of the situation and asked for his help. I explained to him and he was shocked that they would lie to me about the baptismal information. He advised me to talk to someone at the chancery but I did not get any help.
Before the baptism, we were told that everything will be taken care of. We signed the paperwork for the baptism and submitted sponsorship forms just like the normal procedure as though being baptized in church. Yet we were faced to scramble between two villages in hopes that one could provide us with our son's baptismal certificate.
Since neither church could provide one, the Chancery finally created one to acknowledge the event. You will find attached a copy of the document, in which it states that he was baptized at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica. My son was not baptized at the Cathedral - Basilica. Now, my wife and I are questioning if this document is really legitimate and if our son will encounter problems when he starts school or even when he obtains the sacraments.
To sum it all up, the NCW is just an organization that will manipulate quite the weak minded. We started with a mission to increase our faith and just left worse than we started and possibly made it difficult for our son as he gets older.
Your Excellency, my wife and I are grateful that you returned. I speak for many of us Catholics here in this diocese. We are frustrated how Archbishop Apuron is not leading us but rather misleading us. Please help us, we have suffered way too long and all we want is a Shepherd to guide and lead us.
Rome, we have a problem.