The Neocatechumenal Way in the Archdiocese of Belgrade
The basic information about the movement
- The nature of the Neocatechumenal Way was defined by His Holiness John Paul II when he wrote: “I recognize the Neocatechumenal Way as an itinerary of Catholic formation valid for our society and for our times“.
- The Neocatechumenal Way is at the service of the Bishop as one of the forms of diocesan implementation of Christian initiation and of ongoing education in the faith.
- The Neocatechumenal Way, endowed with public juridical personality, is composed of an ensemble of spiritual goods:
- “Neocatechumenate” or post-baptismal catechumenate, as referred to in Title II;
- the ongoing education in the faith, as referred to in Title III;
- the catechumenate, as referred to in Title IV;
- the service of catechesis, discussed in Title V, conducted as specified and by the persons indicated therein
(From the statute of the Neocatechumenal Way, article1, the nature of the Neocatechumenal Way)
In early Church, while the world was pagan, those who wanted to become Christians were supposed to begin “Catechumenate”, which was a way of formation in preparation for baptism. Today, the process of secularization has led many people to abandon the faith and the Church and due to this, the formation is needed in order to become a Christian. The Neocatechumenal Way is not a movement or association, but an instrument in the parishes, at the service of bishops, to bring back faith to many people who have abandoned it. It was started in the 60s in one of the poorest suburbs of Madrid by Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez at the time when the Archbishop of Madrid was Casimiro Morcillo, who saw a true rediscovery of the Word of God and the practical implementation of liturgical renewal in that first community, encouraged by the Synod in those years.
Due to positive experiences in the churches of Madrid, in 1974 Congregation for Divine Worship chose the name Neocatechumenal Way for this experience. It is a journey of conversion that can detect the richness of the Gospel. For all these years, the Way has spread to more than 900 dioceses in 105 countries, with over 20 thousand communities in 6,000 parishes. In 1987, an international missionary seminary “Redemptoris Mater” was opened in Rome. It accepts the young men whose calling matured in the Neocatechumenal Community and who are willing to go all over the world.
After that, many bishops have followed the experience in Rome, and there are more than 100 diocesan missionary seminaries “Redemptoris Mater” in the world today, where more than a thousand seminarians are formed. Recently, in response to Pope’s request for new evangelization, many families who have completed the way have offered to assist the mission of Church and they are going to live in most secularized and non-Christian areas of the world, preparing the birth of new missionary parishes.
Neocathecumenal Way in Belgrade
The Neocatechumenal Way came to Belgrade Archdiocese in 1991, during service of Archbishop Dr. Franc Perko. Friar Ivo Bono Mazić of the third order of Franciscans came to Valjevo then, and the catechesis throughout Serbia began from there.
Today, the Neocatechumenal Way is present in eight parishes (nine communities) of the Archdiocese of Belgrade: Valjevo, Šabac, Niš, Bor, Zaječar, Smederevo, Užice and Belgrade – the parish of St. Joseph the Worker. There are families who came to testify Christian life in three parishes: Šabac, Užice and Belgrade. These families have been invited by the Archbishop Stanislav Hočevar, and sent by the Holy Father, the Pope.
There are also presbyters who had come from the diocesan missionary seminaries Redemptoris Mater from Pula, i.e. the Neocatechumenal Way and who act in pastoral work of our Archdiocese. Those are Marko Trošt in Niš, Antun Kragol in Šabac and Valjevo, Leonid Bevza in Bor and Zaječar, Zygmunt Ciba in Užice, Geremia Massa in Smederevo, and Jovan Vejin i Grzegorz Chudek in Belgrade, as well as presbyters who are no longer here, but who came first: the above mentioned friar Ivo Bono Mazić, Drago Žumer and Girolamo Iacobucci.