Neocatechumenal Way members at Blessed Sacrament Parish are sharing the Gospel
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not the only people knocking on doors these days. If you hear a sound at your door, give those who knock a good glance: they might be your neighbours from Blessed Sacrament Parish.
About 30 members of the Neocatechumenal Way community at the Vancouver parish are sharing the Gospel door to door as part of their next step in the Way’s itinerary of faith. The two-year stage, called “traditio symboli,” began this Pentecost.
“It sounds foreign to Catholics, but it is part of the (early Church’s) rite of baptism,” explained Carmel Deasy, a member of the community.
The “traditio symboli” began May 19 with a solemn rite including the laying on of hands by the archbishop, presentation of small crosses, and the “passing on” of the creed from the adult church to the Neocatechumenal community.
Representing the adult church were 34 members of the Way from Quebec and Italy who have completed the itinerary, a process that takes decades. They travelled to Vancouver solely for the ceremony and sang the creed during what Deasy described as a “beautiful liturgy.”
After receiving the creed, members go door-to-door weekly for two years, proclaiming the good news to every home in the territory of the parish.
Neocatechumenal communities consist of up to 50 Catholics of any age or background that join for the common mission of deepening their faith. This community started the itinerary 12 years ago.
“If we stay together, it’s because Jesus is present,” said Vincent Tourvieille, a member of the community. Unlike people bound by hobbies or pastimes, he said, they have “no other similar interests but Jesus Christ.”
The Quebec members inspired Vincent by their example, having remained in their community for over 30 years. “What makes them stay together for sure is the Holy Spirit,” he said.
“The testimony of their lives really moved me,” added Deasy, who hosted some in her home. “By living with them for a few days, you see that they really believe in God.”
The emphasis of the “traditio symboli” is on faith in action. Father Vittorio Scomparin, pastor of Blessed Sacrament, explained the importance of receiving the creed and taking it outdoors.
“The creed becomes flesh in them,” he said. “People do not believe empty words.”
After two years, the community will transition to the next step of the itinerary: “redditio symboli,” in which they recite the creed before the congregation and give specific examples of how they know each statement is true.
“What is most important is people changing their lives,” Father Scomparin added.
For now, they have a lot of knocking to do. The community meets for prayer on Monday nights before going out to evangelize.
“We’re all a bit fearful of closed doors and ‘beware of dog’ signs,” Deasy stated.
She said about seven out of 10 homes reject them on the doorstep. She handles rejections with prayer. “It’s a very interesting experience.”
Despite the challenges, Tourvieille finds the task rewarding. “People are waiting for someone to come to them and tell them the Church loves them.”
He recently knocked on the door of the home of a non-practising Catholic woman. She welcomed the Way members into her home and was surprised to find they were from her former parish.
She was happy to talk with them, and phoned them a few days later to ask more questions about Catholicism. Though Tourvieille had been rejected 12 times that evening, he counted it as a victory.
“For that one person, it was worth it.”