Q&A: Kiko points the Way

Lay evangelizer, Archbishop Aquila reflect on generous response to vocational calls at Way event

Roxanne King
Kiko points

Lay Spaniard Kiko Arguello, initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way, a worldwide, Vatican approved faith-formation process that seeks to bring people to mature Christian faith, and Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila spoke to media following a March 11 vocational meeting at the Coors Event Center in Boulder.

The gathering drew 12,000 members of the Neocatechumenal Way from 16 states and Guam. At the meeting, nearly 800 men and women said yes to calls to priesthood and religious life, and 600 families stood up to go on mission to be a sign of Christian family life in de-Christianized areas of the world. Arguello’s remarks were translated. The Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Denver Catholic: What brought you to the Denver Archdiocese?

Kiko Arguello: This apostolic trip is because of God—I am doing the will of God. God desired to call these (220) men to offer their life to the priesthood. I said, “Stand up (if you feel called)” and they obeyed. Like in the Gospel, Jesus said to Matthew (9:9), “Hey you, follow me!”

DC: What percentage of men who stand up for the vocational calls actually enter priesthood?

KA: It’s not that 100 men stand up but only three go to seminary. The men stand up because there is a Christian community behind them. It’s not a sentimental moment. God changes their life because there is a community (of support) behind them. That’s why almost all of them end up in the seminary and (women) in consecrated life.

DC: Why does the catechumenate take so long—several years—to finish?

KA: Maybe because of a change of parish (for the community). Maybe because the community sometimes does not pray. Sometimes we need to wait (for a time). We need to manifest eternity.

DC: At the end of the meeting, you said some encouraging words to Kiko Arguello; how do you feel?

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila: I am truly joy-filled to see (how) the Way has been such a blessing for the Church and for our archdiocese, and also for the number of dioceses and people who came from so far away from so many different states. You can see the action and presence of Christ in them in their willingness to sacrifice in order to be here, but also their deep faith because if they did not have a deep faith in Jesus Christ, they would not be here. So that faith is alive and it has been brought to birth through the Neocatechumenal Way.

Question: What were your thoughts as you saw all the men, women and families who stood up answering the Lord’s call?

Archbishop Aquila: It was one of a real answer to prayers. I believe that the more we pray for vocations, the more that we follow the command of Jesus to turn to the Father and to really ask the Harvest Master to send forth workers for the field, that he will send them and he will move the hearts of people to that. I was especially touched by the large number of families who so willingly volunteered themselves to go out on mission—that is a tremendous witness to the power of Christ and to the working of the Holy Spirit. So it gives great joy to my heart to see that.

COMING UP: Neocatechumenal Way initiator leads Way gathering in Boulder

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Neocatechumenal Way initiator leads Way gathering in Boulder

Nearly 1,400 Way faithful stand up for priesthood, consecrated life, mission

Roxanne King
BOULDER, CO - MARCH 11: Kiko ArgŸello addresses the assembled during the Neocatechumenal Way Gathering at the Coors Events Center on March 11, 2017, in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

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.

People from California cheer and a man cries after Way founder Kiko Arguello is introduced during a Neocatechumenal Way Gathering at the Coors Events Center on March 11 in Boulder. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

People from California cheer and a man cries after Way founder Kiko Arguello is introduced during a Neocatechumenal Way Gathering at the Coors Events Center on March 11 in Boulder. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

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.

BOULDER, CO - MARCH 11: Attendees listen during a Neocatechumenal Way gathering at the Coors Events Center on March 11, 2017, in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

Attendees listen during a Neocatechumenal Way gathering at the Coors Events Center on March 11, 2017, in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

“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.

BOULDER, CO - MARCH 11: A general view of a Neocatechumenal Way gathering at the Coors Events Center on March 11, 2017, in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

1,400 faithful filled the stands of the Coors Events Center during a Neocatechumenal Way gathering on March 11. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

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.”