Pope encourages Neocatechumenal Way to keep co-founder’s spirit alive

| July 23, 2016 | 1 Comment

Pope Francis offered his condolences after the death of Carmen Hernandez, co-founder of the Neocatechumenal Way.

Highlighting her love for Jesus and great missionary zeal, he encouraged members to carry on with her spirit.

In a telegram to Kiko Arguello, who, with Hernandez, founded the Way, the pope expressed his spiritual closeness and affection to Hernandez’s family and all those who “appreciated her apostolic zeal.”

“I give thanks to the Lord for the witness of this woman, animated by a sincere love for the church, who has spent her life in the announcement of the Good News in every place, as well as those far away, never forgetting the most marginalized people,” the pope said in written message July 20.

The pope encouraged “those who are part of the Neocatechumenal Way to keep her evangelizing eagerness alive, in an active communion with the bishops and priests, while exercising patience and mercy with all.”

In the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Archbishop Bernard Hebda offered a memorial Mass for Hernandez July 22 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

Carmen Hernandez, co-founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, died in Madrid July 19 at the age of 85. She is pictured in a 2009 photo. CNS

Carmen Hernandez, co-founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, died in Madrid July 19 at the age of 85. She is pictured in a 2009 photo. CNS

Hernandez died in Madrid July 19 at the age of 85 and her funeral Mass was held July 21 in Madrid’s cathedral.

Together with Arguello, they founded the parish-based faith formation program in the 1960s as a way to deepen people’s faith and evangelize those normally excluded by society.

Hernandez, Arguello and Father Mario Pezzi served as the leaders of the Way on the international level. There are Neocatechumenal communities in 120 countries across the world.

Born in Olvega, Spain, Nov. 24, 1930, Hernandez received a degree in chemistry and worked for a time at a major food company her family founded and ran. However, she soon left to join the Missionaries of Christ Jesus to do mission work abroad. She also received a degree in theology.

Inspired by the work of the Second Vatican Council, Hernandez then spent two years in Israel deepening her understanding of Scripture and the importance of catechesis.

Back in Spain, she met Arguello and — both inspired by Blessed Charles de Foucauld — they sought to be present among the poor, according to Vatican Radio.

Though she normally turned down honorific titles and awards, Hernandez — together with Arguello — accepted an honorary degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., in 2015, in recognition for “their devotion to the poor and the good work they have done for the church,” according to the university website.

Pope Francis spoke with Hernandez over the phone to offer encouragement July 1 during a private audience with Arguello and Father Pezzi, according to a press release from the Way.

In an interview with Vatican Radio July 20, Arguello said Hernandez was an important role model for many young women. “They said it was thanks to Carmen they found pride in being a woman,” he said.

“She always talked about the importance of women in the church” and how they figured prominently in the Bible, he said. She would personally ask young women to consider monastic life, he said, adding that more than 4,000 young women from the Neocatechumenal Way are now cloistered nuns.

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  • Charles C.

    I have nothing to say about Carmen Hernandez, but the headline and the article speak of the wonderful nature of the neocatechumenal way. You should be aware that the organization is controversial, especially in it’s Saturday night “Masses.”

    The organization has been called a cult and there is much information available on it. I would suggest a site called “The Faithful Catholic.” I haven’t gone through the entire thing, but a few items have caught my eye.

    Kiko Arguelllo, the co-founder of the neocatechumenal way, writes:

    “And if you take those horrors of tablets, computers … look how many couples are destroyed!

    “While the husband works, the wife is chatting with a gentleman and one day says to her husband: “I’m leaving” and leaves him there. How can we defend ourselves, how can we protect our children from all these maneuvers of the devil that are destroying society?

    “Young people of the Way chatting with each other, make a small group, after they gather and then you realize that they have already ended up fornicating, even those of the Way! Because they started to chat. This is forbidden, we said clearly, such as YouTube and all these things, banned altogether: close all these horrors of the computers and send them to hell, if you want to be saved from the world, the devil, because they are the windows through which [the devil] enters the world and it darkens the soul inside you and you generate a vice.”

    Obviously, since I am using a computer, I am not a member of the Neocat Way. More, if you’d like, this time concerning money:

    “The lead catechist then invites the members to come forward, one by one, and put the “sign” that they brought into the basket or bag at the front, or put it near the basket.

    “What are these “signs”? Substantial amounts of cash, checks, titles to automobiles, titles to property, expensive jewelry and heirlooms, etc.. Members are coerced by the catechists with words like, “Show that you are bigger than your idols!” or “Throw it into the fire!”

    “The community is not immediately told what will happen to the money – they will learn this a day or so later during the “Catechesis of the Way”. Then they will learn the the newly elected community responsibles will open a bank account using the
    checks and cash. All the other items are liquidated (sold) over time, and proceeds deposited into the account.

    “As you can imagine, a single scrutiny could easily bring in over one hundred thousand dollars in “loot”. A part of the funds are taken by the responsibles to poor families in the parishes, but fully a third of the loot will go to the Bishop, personally, NOT to the diocese.”

    This information is not well known, it is kept a secret because, as Kiko Arguello, the other co-founder writes:

    “You can not tell anyone who comes after you the deepest secrets of the Catechumenate. Besides, it would be useless and people would think that it is ridiculous. If the rumor gets around town that in order to enter these communities, one must sell what they own, then no one will come to the catechesis anymore.” Kiko Arguello, Catechetical Directory, Vol. 4.

    So how does Mr. Arguello get new members, especially in China? Here’s what he said in Naples in 2012:

    ““When we send the girls, there are the Chinese [men] who are wanting see a girl …
    Do you think that in China, which at the moment is killing the girls, missing fifty million women, at this time in China, with the disaster of the “one child” policy imposed by the Communist Party. So we, when we send the girls, all the Chinese who are wanting to see a girl, targeting girls: “Come to catechesis!” All Chinese are going to the catechesis.

    “You know that the mullet, mullet are caught like this: you take a female, mullet, a fish, and all males -shh! – Follow it, and fall into the net.”

    Sorry, but the practices of this group appear to be at best questionable, and at worst, vile and reprehensible. Please be careful.