On March 11 in a Boulder stadium, nearly 800 men and women said yes to God’s call to priesthood and consecrated life, and 600 families volunteered to go on mission.
Their enthusiastic response gave witness to their deep faith and the presence of the Holy Spirit, said Archbishop Samuel Aquila.
“When we see young men… young women… and families who are willing to surrender their lives [to God], it is the action of the Holy Spirit and only God can bring that about,” the archbishop joyfully told the crowd at the Coors Event Center.
The vocational calls ended the lively, daylong assembly of 12,000 members of the Neocatechumenal Way from 16 states—stretching from Hawaii to Florida—and from Guam.
The Way is a Vatican approved faith-formation process based on the early catechumenate of the Church. More than 1 million people across the globe belong to it through small, parish-based communities.
Way initiator Kiko Arguello, a Spanish layman, led the gathering. He shook off altitude sickness to lead spirited hymns and passionately preach the good news of salvation before making vocational calls. Archbishop Aquila prayed over those who answered them.
Members of the Way at Queen of Peace Church in Aurora, Mark and Naomi Fritz and their six children were among those who volunteered to go on mission to de-Christianized areas of the world to be a sign of Christian family life.
“I feel called to give my life for whatever God wants,” Mark, 38, told the Denver Catholic. Head of an engineering firm drafting unit, he said that following his own will “never led me anywhere good. It left me as a single father raising a child alone, unhappy and angry.
“I see in my history that when I follow God’s call, it leads to happiness,” he asserted. “Now I’m married with six children and a seventh on the way. I always thought this would be the worst place to be, but I’m happy.”
Naomi, 39, a homemaker, said meeting a Way mission family in her homeland of Japan, where Christians make up just 2 percent of the population, planted the seed for her own call. Their witness prompted her return to the faith, which she had left while in college.
“God showed me [through them] that the Family of Nazareth exists,” Naomi, said through happy tears. “I’m very grateful.”
Born in the slums of Madrid in 1964 as a fruit of the Second Vatican Council, the Way aims to bring people to mature Christian faith. The process, which takes several years, is known for transforming lives, renewing marriages and spurring vocations.
The Way, according to Rome Reports, is the Catholic group that has helped to open the most seminaries. Some 2,400 seminarians—all from Way communities—are in formation at 120 Redemptoris Mater seminaries across the globe, including one in Denver.
The seminaries form diocesan priests who get missionary training and are willing to go anywhere in the world their bishop sends them.
Typically the Way holds vocational meetings following international World Youth Days. But the death last July of Way co-initiator Carmen Hernandez, a Spanish laywoman, impelled the aging but zealous Arguello to embark on an apostolic journey to raise vocations and mission families.
Starting March 5 in Montreal, Canada, he and Father Mario Pezzi, an Italian priest who helps Arguello lead the charism, then stopped in Baltimore before visiting Boulder. From there, Arguello said they would travel to Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Mexico.
“We are seeing miracles happen in these meetings,” Arguello acknowledged. “God passes and boys stand up!”
The miracles include the women and families who also answer the call to be agents of the new evangelization.
At the Vatican last March, Pope Francis blessed 350 Way families before sending them by lottery around the world to grow the Church in secularized societies and rekindle lukewarm Christians.
“The Church can see a new Pentecost,” declared Arguello. “They go out [as at] the cenacle announcing the Gospel. The first apostolic model is exactly what we are doing.”