A two by two experience: The Neo-Catechumenal Way
Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Take nothing for the journey: neither staff, nor haversack, nor bread, nor money; and do not have a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there; and when you leave let your departure be from there.’ Go and proclaim the Kingdom of God! (Lk:9 1-6).
After proclaiming this Gospel, Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Randazzo, of Sydney, sent out over 180 members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way comprising of priests, seminarians and the laity, to all parts of Australia and New Zealand for nine days.
“It may seem like a crazy scheme”, said Bishop McKenna “but over the years, it is remarkable what surprising things the Lord has done through this radical sign. Our safe and sensible approaches to evangelisation do not always yield obvious fruit. Maybe sometimes we need to step out and do something a little crazy”!
Carrying only a bible; a rosary and the divine office, I left together with my companion, a 35-year-old man from Darwin named Justin, for the Diocese of Bathurst from Sydney in a car loaned to us. Parking the car near the Cathedral, we began our mission. We pooled our remaining money together and paid for a motel room which cost $120. We did not have a single cent after that. That night we had free dinner from Zambero after announcing the Good News to them!
As ‘Shepherds of the flock’, our first mission was to greet the priests in the various parishes and announce God’s love to them. It was not an easy task and we went with a lot of apprehension. After receiving a blessing from the priests, we began our mission to proclaim the Good News of Christ’s resurrection to everyone we met along our journey.
Early the next day we hitchhiked all the way to Molong, where we spent the night, thanks to the generousity of St Vincent de Paul. Gilgandra was our next stop. Fr Martin O'Mahony took us to lunch at a restaurant. We then travelled to Coonabarabran and stayed with Fr Reynold Jaboneta for two nights. He was pleasantly surprised and overjoyed that we made it to his parish. He said when he was informed by Bishop McKenna of our impending visit, he never thought anyone would make it to his parish, being the most distant.
We also encountered numerous situations where the Word of God made a significant impact on the lives of ordinary people. One poignant encounter was with a widow who shared how she carried a lot of bitterness with the Church. After sharing our personal experiences of how God loves us despite the many obstacles we put before him, we could see a slight transformation in her. She said that she felt a sense of peace and would like to say the rosary but did not have one. I gave her my rosary and encouraged her to pray. Touching the rosary for the first time after many years, she said she felt reconciled. In her own words she said, “Jesus visited me today through you two”.
At the end of the nine days, we gathered together again in Sydney for two days to share our experiences. In total, 20 bishops, including one Anglican bishop, 10 vicar generals and 400 priests were visited, not counting the hundreds of people who were touched by this mission.
The last two by two mission was carried out in 2009. Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney presided over the Eucharist on the last day. He thanked us and urged us to carry on the mission of bringing Christ to the World as Pope Francis has said in recent times, “The Church needs to open its doors; not only to let people in but to bring the Good News of Christ to the rest of the world!”.