VENICE | A group from the Neocatechumenal Way welcomed Bishop Frank J. Dewane to lead a prayer service as part of a retreat June 2 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice.
More than 30 were from Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers and they viewed having the Bishop present as a special honor. During the prayer service, two of the younger retreatants shared their story of how the Neocatechumenal Way has transformed their relationship with the Lord while also changing their view on the world.
Stephanie Gonzalez, 18, oldest of five, said the Way affected her deeply, changing her life from being someone who was very selfish because the family’s attention was on her autistic brother. “I realized I could put my selfishness aside and actually be thankful for what we have and for my brother in our life. I believe it was a miracle from God when my brother started talking. Through the Way, I was able to see how God loves us for who we are and not for who we pretend to be to others.”
Aaron Magallanes, 22, third of nine children, has been involved with the Way for six years and admitted to struggling to gain the love of his parents and others. “Through the Way, I have been able to see that love God has for me is far superior than anything else. I was not changed overnight and I still struggle with many issues, but through the Way I realized that I could now serve others as God taught us all.”
The Neocatechumenal Way was initiated in Madrid in 1964, and is dedicated to post- and pre-baptismal formation of Christians, based on the word of God, the Eucharist and the Christian community. The Way engages families who through their witness and life serve to establish the presence of the Catholic Church in countries where the Church is absent or tiny, or to revive and strengthen the presence of Catholic communities in difficult and highly secularized areas.
On May 5, Pope Francis joined some 150,000 representatives of the Neocatechumenal Way from 135 countries to thank God for the 50 years of their presence in Rome.