Plenary voices: Fr Eric Skruzny

This is the intervention of Fr Eric Skruzny, Rector of the Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary in Sydney, which is operated by the Neocatechumenal Way

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Participants come forward to receive the ashes on Ash Wednesday in a community of the Neocatechumenal Way in Sydney. Photo: Peter Rosengren

I feel I need to speak of one of the success stories in Australia since Vatican II; namely the new ecclesial realities that though they have been successfully forming holy disciples, missionaries and more recently even ministers, are under-represented in this Council.

My name is Fr Eric Skruzny and I am currently the Rector of the Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary of Sydney.

My formation to mission began when I was 16 when we as a parish in Melbourne were invited to a series of catecheses for adults conducted by a lay-led team of the Neocatechumenal Way, endorsed by the Archbishop and blessed by our parish priest. My formation to ministry took on new meaning when I left my Town Planning career and joined the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Rome at the age of 25.

Listening together to the Word of God as a community within the Parish community, we came to experience a more joyful celebration of the liturgies. This ICU experience made us feel especially loved and cared for. Our parish-based community has continued to sustain each one of us on our faith journey for now over 40 years. Even Covid-19 has not managed to kill the life of our community.

Pope Benedict XVI leads a special audience with members of the Neocatechumenal Way in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in 2009. Photo: CNS photo/Alessia Pierdomenico, Reuters

I have witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit working in our communities transforming the lives of people suffering all kinds of difficult life situations:

  • young singles without direction or motivation;
  • newly weds unable to love creatively and fruitfully;
  • elderly living without help or support from their children;
  • broken people paralysed in their vices;
  • priests and religious who had lost sight of their vocations.

All rescued and formed thanks to this fruit of Vatican II; now recognized and approved by the Holy See with its own Statutes as an Itinerary of Catholic formation valid for our society and our times.

My petition to the Plenary Council is that it may endorse, encourage and support the Holy Spirit inspired charisms of the New Ecclesial Realities and Movements and not succumb to the academic science-fiction approach of fusing together a hybrid-body or plan, looking more like the frustrated creature of Frankenstein than the beautiful body of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The temptation is to dig the furrows and expect the Holy Spirit to follow our plans.