I have posted a few times on this blog and have used my aka Lou C. Suarez. I write this to share my up close and personal experiences with the NCW and why it’s important to not remain anonymous.
We are all born with a yearning to be closer to Christ and in my search to fill that (many years ago) I had gone to two separate (new communities) "invitations to joy" and almost immediately had felt on both occasions that something was not as it should be. (This is something they will tell you when you accept one of those invitations, that "maybe this is not for you" or "the Holy Spirit will touch you if this is meant for you".)
What really had me taken aback was when invited to a "celebration" (mass) which was held in the basement of San Vicente/San Roke parish, I felt so out of place, lost, and for a lack of better words "freaked out" at how it was so unlike the masses celebrated inside the church.
There were people allowed to speak after the readings to share how it affected them or correlated with their lives (even after the gospel before the presbyter gave his homily), some of the readings were sung by a person strumming the same lulling notes for each verse, and how communion was distributed. As I was about to consume the host I was stopped by the person who invited me as she said "no we do it together at the same time" (wow! Ok! But I was taught otherwise).
I was even more surprised that after the "celebration" was over young ladies were holding hands and dancing around the table (which would be to us non-neo’s the sacred altar), I even asked the person who invited me if this was some sort of "virgins dancing around the altar" but was told with a shy smile "oh no they're rejoicing, anyone can go up there". (Ok, no thanks!)
Approximately 4-5 years later I became a volunteer secretary for the Asan parish while under the Pastoral Care of a borrowed priest, Fr. Fidel Tambago. (I was in fact a volunteer under Fr. Fidel and not an employee of the chancery because I recently heard that I was supposedly "fired" as the parish secretary. I can only speculate which "charism" may have stated that untruth.)
Now during that short time that Fr. Fidel was the pastor of Nino Perdido, he had welcomed many who had distanced themselves away from our faith. He was able to bring the church finances out of the negative. He married couples who were cohabitating. He administered the sacraments of initiation to children whose parents had long ago fell away from our faith as well as brought back those same people to the church.
He had brought a sense of unity back to the parish, and he made it known that you need not be in the NCW to be welcomed there.
He was mending a broken parish that was already inundated with the NCW (which to me was the cause of parishioners seeking other parishes). The NCW leaders had complained to the chancery that Fr. Fidel had "too many BBQ's and he drank beer almost every night."
What they failed to mention in their complaint was that those people who he had befriended and spent time with, were those that repaired what needed to be fixed in the church, and voluntarily painted the entire church both inside and out, and most importantly started coming back to Mass!
It didn't take long for Fr. Fidel to no longer want to minister to the NCW and had made that announcement after the weekend masses. Of course, this lead to a big upheaval and most if not all the NCW feathers where ruffled and the rest... Oh, you can guess what took place just days after.
Let me just say my volunteer duties ended at the very same time that Fr. Fidel was handed his plane ticket by AAA back to the Philippines after he was given the choice to stay and continue to minister to the NCW (and deal with their sense of superiority over the non-neo congregation) or leave.
I was once told “not to take this issue to heart, that this was meant to happen” (of course by a NEO). How couldn’t I?
I watched for months as this brave priest tried to mend the division in the parish. I watched him welcome lost souls and administer the sacraments. I watched him be bullied and bossed around as if he were a layperson and not the pastor by those who were NCW responsibles and a Deacon.
But what I remember the most is what he told me “I will announce that I will no longer be the priest to look after the NCW, they think that I can only be a priest for them, don’t they know that I must be a priest for everyone!”
Now how could AAA have let someone so genuinely concerned for the salvation of EVERYONE’s soul go? Easy… the Neo Catechumenal Way!
So putting my name on my comments has never been a point of contention for me, even though people in the Asan parish and the NCW community know who I am. Because the thought of telling my side of the story and not having my name to back it up would be like Tim telling his story and not having documents to back them up - hearsay.
I am sure that I will get more looks and treated as a “second class Catholic” because of this posting. But… “Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.
If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant.” Gal1:10
Lord Jesus, help us!