Having been raised in Judaism and after having been part of a messianic congregation and then an Evangelical Church, Mark and Sue Neugebauer became Catholic in 2009. Mark was ordained a deacon for the Archdiocese of Toronto in 2018. They call themselves Messianic Jewish Catholics – someone who maintains a Jewish identity while acknowledging Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) is the Messiah.
Together, with a competent team, they have run the Toronto chapter of the Fellowship of St. Joseph of the Association for Hebrew Catholics. Below, Deacon Mark and Sue share with our readers their journey to Catholicism.
1. What is the mission of the Association for Hebrew Catholics?
The official mission statement of the Association for Hebrew Catholics is as follows:
The Association of Hebrew Catholics [works] to preserve the identity and heritage of Catholics of Jewish origin within the Church, to enable them to serve the Lord and all people within the mystery of their irrevocable calling.
Our Toronto branch has expanded that mission to include all people who are interested in the Jewish roots of the Catholic faith. Our hope is to kindle an understanding of the origins of the liturgy, rituals, holidays and sacraments of Catholic observance to enrich the lives of the faithful. In so doing so, we combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel ideologies so rampant in the world today. We also want to make others aware of the need to pray for and support suffering Christians throughout the world.
Deacon Mark and Sue Neugebauer.
2. Who is the fellowship made up of?
The fellowship is made up of Jewish and non-Jewish people. While most attendees are Catholic, we welcome people from all ecclesial communities. We especially welcome Jewish people seeking to understand who Jesus the Jewish Messiah is, as well as provide a place of support for those Jewish people who have chosen to follow Jesus, Yeshua, in the Catholic Church.
3. How many Messianic Jews are there in Toronto?
Not sure! There are many Messianic Jews in messianic congregations and Protestant churches and there are several in the Catholic Church, as well as many "secret believers" who do not attend Christian services. There are also people of Jewish heritage who attend Christian congregations but do not necessarily identify still as Jews.
4. Are your beliefs the same as the rest of Catholicism?
Our beliefs are completely in line with the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. We fully support the Catechism of the Catholic Church and all the teachings of the popes and saints.
Our only differences are a matter of emphasis in the teachings of the Catholic tradition. We are especially influenced by the documents of Nostra Aetate and the other four Second Vatican Council documents concerning the Jewish people. We highlight the Catechism and papal teachings on the relationship between the Church and Israel, and we endeavour to have more Catholics celebrate these spiritual roots.
Along with the Church and Pope Francis, we condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms. Because we love Israel, we seek to explain the history of the land and refute some misconceptions about it, although we refrain from the political disputes surrounding this topic. We work to present the Jewishness of the Scriptures and of Jesus himself. Also, we remind people that Mary and all the first apostles were Jews who lived their lives in the context of first century Israel.
5. Anything else you'd like Catholics to know about Messianic Jews?
There are almost as many different expressions of practice among Messianic Jews as there are in the rest of the Christian world. Some Messianic Jews are more observant of traditional Jewish practices than others. Many pray in Hebrew, but some do not. There are Jewish Catholics, Jewish Protestants and Messianic Jews who worship in different ways and with different terminology. But we are united in our desire to see our people come to faith in our Messiah, Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew). We share a love for our people, our traditions and holidays, our land of Israel, and our culture.
We want Catholics to know the roots of our precious collective faith, rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures. To discover the people of the Bible in the context and culture they really lived and worshipped in. And to help them understand that the Church that came forth from the upper room at Pentecost is rooted in a rich and beautiful tradition, a faith given by God to Israel and always with the intention of bringing that faith to all nations.
To learn more about Deacon Mark's and Sue's journey to Catholicism, please visit https://www.hebrewcatholic.net/neugebauer-mark-sue/.
For video and written testimony. https://chnetwork.org/story/messianic-and-catholic-conversion-story-of-mark-neugebauer/
To contact Deacon Mark and Sue: firstname.lastname@example.org.