At the Lumen Christi Center in Schriever, Louisiana
The 2nd Gathering of key leaders and representatives of Movements and New Communities in the U.S. was held at the Lumen Christi Retreat Center in Schriever, Louisiana and was hosted by Bishop Sam Jacobs, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, and the Catholic Ecclesial Movements and New Communities in the U.S. in Conversation. There were 28 attendees from 14 Movements and New Communities which are listed at the end. This was similar to the 29 who attended the 1st Gathering in 2013, representing 16 Movements, New Communities and the USCCB.
Of note, only seven of the attendees this year had attended the Gathering in 2013. Besides the USCCB representative, there were five groups present in 2013 not represented this year, but there were three groups not represented in 2013 who were present this year.
As with the 1st Gathering, time was spent getting to know one another and the Movements and New Communities represented. Bishop Jacobs gave a brief overview of how the Conversation came together initially—as a vision of doing something in the U.S. similar to what Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI had done in Rome in 1998 and 2006, namely to celebrate the existence and good fruit of the Movements and New Communities in the U.S. and to raise awareness. He then shared what has been done since the first coming together in 2009: Bishop Friends’ Luncheon in 2010, a Workshop for Bishops on the Movements, New Communities and the New Evangelization in 2011, and Receptions for Bishops in 2012, 2013, and 2014, the 1st Gathering of Movements and New Communities in 2013, and our first Celebratory Event in August, 2014 in the Washington, DC area. He shared a “wild dream” of a future celebration in Yankee Stadium!
Brief presentations by representatives of Cursillo, Focolare, and Worldwide Marriage Encounter followed.
On the second day, the attendees viewed a recorded presentation of the Celebratory Event and discussed the possibility of a future Celebratory Event as well as the address of Pope Francis in November 2014 to the “Participants in the Third World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities.” In his address, the Holy Father said “it is necessary to preserve the freshness of your charism,” “the way of welcoming and accompanying men and women of today, in particular, the youth,” and that “we must never forget…that the most precious good, the seal of the Holy Spirit, is communion.” He concluded, “In order to attain ecclesial maturity, therefore, maintain…the freshness of your charism, respect the freedom of each person, and always strive for communion.” Discussion followed and many ideas of how to go forward were generated. We then turned to the upcoming “Year of Mercy” and shared in small groups what the various groups have planned in response.
In the evening we focused on what the Movements and New Communities are doing in response to the New Evangelization, especially with Youth and Young Adults. Brief presentations were given by representatives of the Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt, Focalare and the Sword of the Spirit. What emerged was no surprise: the importance of Christian family in raising Christian youth and, where lacking, the need for older adults reaching out. Also noted was the increasing absence of fathers and of fathers who never said “I love you.”
Prayer, led by representatives of the various Movement and New Communities attending, reflecting their praxis or style was a constituent part of each of the three days, as was celebration of Mass. In his homily at one Mass, Fr. Gerold Langsch of the Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt said “the new ecclesial movements…are to give hope, to give new enthusiasm…we want to be renewed from the communion we have experienced.”
We ended with a time of open sharing and looking at what is next for this type of Gathering. There was a strong consensus that we should meet again—probably in 2017.
Movements and New Communities Attending:
– Alliance of Filipino Catholic Charismatic
– Madonna House
– Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt
– National Cursillo Movement
– Beginning Experience
– Neocatechumenal Way
– Catholic Charismatic Renewal
– People of Praise
– Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic
– Prayer Communities
– Communities and Fellowships
– Retrouvaille International
– Couples for Christ
– The Sword of the Spirit
– Worldwide Marriage Encounter