“What is a neophyte?” I hear some people ask! All of our parishes who host the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) know, not so much ‘what’, but ‘who’ is a neophyte. If you look it up in the dictionary, it means ‘beginner’; someone who is new to an activity.
Therefore, in the Church, a neophyte is a newly-baptised member. We particularly use this term in relation to those who are baptised, confirmed and receive communion for the first time at the Easter Vigil. During the Easter Season, the season of Post-Easter Mystagogy, the neophytes hold a place of honour in the community. The liturgy and in particular the homily, which focuses on the wonderful Gospels for each Sunday in the Easter Season, reflects on the meaning of baptism and the other sacraments of initiation. It is a time when the whole community reflects with the neophytes on what it means to live as a Catholic Christian today. It is a time for the neophytes to experience being a member of the Church and a member of a community who both worships and engages in mission. This liturgical reflection and renewal is as important for the life of the community as it is for the neophytes. Not only am I renewed and inspired by the liturgy, including the Gospel, I am inspired by the neophytes. The presence of those who have chosen faith as an adult inspires me to dig deeper, reach further and be more aware, present and conscious of nurturing and living my own baptismal life.
The Neophyte Mass is traditionally celebrated with the Bishop or his Vicar General towards the close of the period of Post-Easter Mystagogy. This year, Fr. Andrew Doohan is presiding.
I encourage all members of the Church, particularly those in St Benedict’s Inner Newcastle Parish, to gather for this wonderful occasion. Let us give our neophytes an experience of diocesan Church – diocesan liturgy, diocesan mission and diocesan parties! We look forward to seeing you at St Joseph’s at The Junction, 6.00pm on Friday 7 June.