As the first ‘Encounter of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities’ continues in Bogota, Colombia, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, told delegates that, “The ecclesial movements and new communities are bearers of a precious evangelization potential which the Church urgently needs today. They represent a richness still unknown and underappreciated.”
During his remarks at the conference, Archbishop Rylko recalled the memory of JohnPaul II in noting “the great need that exists today for mature Christian personalities, conscious of their baptismal identity,of their vocation and mission in the Church and in the world. The great need for vibrant Christian communities. And here is where the ecclesial movements and new communities enter. They are the response stirred up by the Holy Spirit to this dramatic challenge of the end of the millennium.”
In referring to formation in the faith and the strong proclamation of the gospel, the archbishop noted that in both of these areas, “the ecclesial movements and new communities bear great fruit for the life of the Church and for thousands of Christians from all corners of the world, they have become true laboratories of the faith, authentic schools of Christian life, of holiness and of mission.”
“We are witnessing today a troubling lack of educational establishments not only outside the Church but also within her. Quite often today the Christian family by itself is incapable of transmitting the faith the new generations and the parish is likewise insufficient, although it continues to be the indispensable structure for the Church’s ministry. Parishes, especially in large cities, encompass are as so extensive that it is difficult to establish personal relationships and make them places of true Christian initiation,” the archbishop said.
In the face of this situation, he continued, “ecclesial movements have become places of profound and solid Christian formation. The ecclesial movements and new communities are in fact characterized by a rich variety of educational methods and itineraries that are extraordinarily effective.”
This success, Archbishop Rylko noted, is due to the charisms that have given birth to the movements and because of them, “the fascinating original experience of the Christian event of which each founder is a particular witness can be reproduced in the lives of many people and in many generations without losing its novelty and freshness.”
“Charisms are the source of the extraordinary strength of the movements and the new communities,” said Archbishop Rylko. “This formation has as its starting point a profound conversion of heart. It is not by accident that these new ecclesial realities include among their members many converts. At the beginning of this process there is always a personal encounter with Christ, in which one’s life is radically changed.”
Lastly, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity spoke of the process of conversion for the members of the ecclesial movements, saying it is “sometimes a gradual process that requires time, and sometimes it is like an expected and overwhelming light, but it is always lived out as a free gift from God who makes the heart overflow with happiness and it is transformed into spiritual richness for one’s entire life.”