Fourteen years ago today, the Union of Catholic Apostolate was erected as an International Public Association of the Faithful by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. On that day, the association of laity, religious, and clergy begun by St. Vincent Pallotti in 1835 came into a new reality that continues to grow throughout the world.
In 1964, the Second Vatican Council affirmed in the document Lumen Gentium, “that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” The Catholic Apostolate Center continues to promote this truth in the 21st century by providing active Catholics the tools and resources to share Christ’s loving message of salvation.
In this way the Center’s mission focuses on reviving faith, rekindling charity and forming apostles who give witness to this fullness of the Christian life by embracing their baptismal call.
Fr Frank S. Donio, S.A.C., Director of the Center, explains: “The Catholic Apostolate Center is rooted in the spirituality of St Vincent Pallotti, who believed that all are called to be apostles and to be co-responsible for the mission of Christ and his Church.”
Founded in 2011 as a ministry of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottines - Immaculate Conception Province), the Catholic Apostolate Center develops resources that the faithful, particularly those in ministry, can use to aid in their own evangelization efforts. The Center responds to the current needs of the Church through developing, in collaboration with dioceses and other institutions and organizations, formation programs for the New Evangelization. It assists pastoral leaders in deepening collaboration with one another and provides formation opportunities for members and collaborators of the Union of Catholic Apostolate.
The Center accomplishes this bold mission through online resource pages, webinars, podcasts, and blogs, as well as through the partnerships with organizations like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Archdiocese of Washington, Catholic Volunteer Network and St Joseph’s College of Maine, among others. Furthermore they host seminars, webinars, and presentations as well as providing consulting services.
“While we do produce our own material and have a large amount of no-cost digital resources, the Center collaborates with many national and international Catholic organizations, dioceses and the USCCB on a variety of projects to assist active Catholics in living as missionary disciples,” Donio said. In the spirit of St Vincent Pallotti, the Center equips Catholics to “go out” empowered with the resources and knowledge to
propagate the faith for the New Evangelization.
St Vincent Pallotti founded the Union of Catholic Apostolate, an association to revive faith and rekindle charity among Catholics and propagate the faith to all. He encouraged collaboration among clergy, religious, and the laity in the 1800’s at a time in history when many thought the work of the church should be left to priests and religious.
The Catholic Apostolate Center looks to the life of St Vincent Pallotti for inspiration as it strives to form collaborative relationships with more organizations, further develop its formation resources and ultimately empower all the faithful – clergy and lay – to live out their baptismal call.
The Catholic Apostolate Center specifically entrusts its work of forming apostles to Mary,
“Queen of Apostles” because of her invaluable role in building the early church and encouraging the first apostles. The Center looks to the Blessed Mother as the perfect model of discipleship, apostolic work and charity as we strive to lead Christ’s followers closer to her Son.
Formation leads to action – this is a core belief that influences the work of the Center. Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has reminded us to be comprised of both action and word, to encourage a spirit of accompaniment and encounter.
“Go out,” he says. “Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers and sisters, go out and share, go out and ask.” By forming the laity to ‘go out’ the Catholic Apostolate Center hopes to empower the Body of Christ to collaboratively carry out the mission entrusted to the church by Jesus Christ.
To learn more about the work and mission of the Catholic Apostolate Center, please visit their website at CatholicApostolateCenter.org.
Vilcashuamán - Ayacucho - Peru
THREE YEARS OF THE MISSION IN PERU
In February of this year he completed three years of the Pallottine mission in the province of Vilcashuamán - Ayacucho - Peru. When we arrived here the scenario was of abandonment both of the temples, and also of the faithful who did not have the presence of a priest for the sacraments and other necessary attentions to live and to strengthen their faith. In principle they were for us to attend only the three communities by the distance from one to another. Today we are serving the entire province that has almost four thousand kilometers in length. There were numerous sacraments held and patron saint celebrations held in all villages. The parish that did not have life, now has a new face. We have the presence of young people in the masses. We attend colleges with masses and talks for the preparation of the sacraments and human and religious values. With the arrival of Father Sergilson in February this year we have two Pallottine priests on the mission here in Peru. At the beginning of the mission, the parents lived in a settled house. But we fixed a house that was on the same land where you built the house "John Paul II". The house was very damaged but it was very beautiful.
THE HOUSE HOUSE "JUAN PABLO II"
Today I have a great feeling of gratitude for the boys who live in this orphanage and I was very sad to see that the boys were abandoned by the authorities. Thank God today we Pallottines are responsible for this house. They are the Pallottine sisters of India who take care of the house. They are directly responsible for the care of the children. Before that who maintained the house was the Government with an annual sum of ninety-one thousand (91) soles. And by an association that donates two thousand a month. Today who maintains the house is the Pallottines and the Ayacucho Emergency Association (A.E.A)
A cordial and fraternal greetings to all who support our mission here in Peru.
RECTOR OF THE MISSION IN PERU: Father Manoel Santana Vieira, sac
Words by Anne Dowling. Pictures by Anne Dowling and Fr Josef Butscher SAC.
The afternoon of Saturday 3 June was a bit chilly outside but there was lots of warmth shared by those who gathered in Kew for the Feast of Mary Queen of Apostles.
St Vincent Pallotti, who in 1835 founded the Union of Catholic Apostolate (UAC) with lay, religious and clergy as members, had a great devotion to Mary under this title. The Feast appropriately is celebrated on the day before Pentecost Sunday.
About 30 people gathered around a copy of an artwork that Pallotti commissioned his artist friend, Serafino Cesaretti, to paint. It shows Mary as Queen of the Apostles with some women and with the apostles gathered in prayer in the Cenacle or Upper Room at the coming of the Spirit.
This vision of the Cenacle plays an important role in the life of the UAC, which is also known as the Pallottine Family. The Cenacle is the place for the community of disciples to meet, catch up with, support each other and prayer. Then they go back out enlivened with God’s Spirit to be apostles in the world. And so it was at the Pallottine Missionary College in Kew, but with the addition of a sausage sizzle.
Over a shared meal, people caught up with old friends and made new ones. There were long term members as well as new ones and others who are ‘family friends’.
We were blessed with a rain-free function. This was the first time we had celebrated this feast in this way, but it now promises to be an annual event. Thanks go to the priests who hosted and to all the other members of the UAC who contributed in any way.
MESSAGE FROM THE GENERAL COORDINATION COUNCIL
TO ALL OF THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE
ON THE CONCLUSION OF ITS ANNUAL MEETING
- ROME 19 - 23RD MAY 2017 -
Heartfelt greetings to all of the members, collaborators and friends of our Union of Catholic Apostolate.
We thank you for accompanying us in prayer over these days; you too have been in our prayers.
We have been in communion in the Cenacle, accompanied by the Word of God as we await the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the celebration of Mary, Queen of Apostles.
We believe that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of infinite abundance and Giver of life, draws us nearer to God and helps us to live in unity with each other.
The topics which we have discussed and the reports presented by the GCC members and the various commissions indicate that the charism of Saint Vincent is a living and growing reality in our world.
We recognize that the ongoing development of the Union, ensuring a life of deepening communion and co-responsibility between all - members, collaborators and friends - brings with it many joys and challenges, along with a growing awareness of our fundamental identity.
When looking at these issues, we saw that - through our witness, our missionary outreach, a recognition of our equality, our participating in ongoing formation, our loving and patient listening to each other - we ensure that the charism of our Founder, Saint Vincent, is a positive energy in the Church and in the world.
The invited speaker, Mons. Sergio La Pegna, deepened our knowledge and provided a clear overview of the Charismatic Families and of our specific call to evangelisation.
This year we celebrate the Bicentenary of the priestly ordination of St. Vincent Pallotti. The apostolate, as articulated by our Founder, is a gift which we have received from God and which has been approved by the Church for the benefit of all humanity.
Within the Union, we have expressions of all vocations: Ordained, Consecrated, Lay. These vocations complement each other, and make us co-responsible for bearing the Pallottine charism. We respect the vocation of each one and the role each vocation has to play. Together we go forth and offer the Church our spiritual patrimony.
May the gifts of the Holy Spirit give us inner strength in proclaiming the Word of God, Jesus Christ, and in unconditional service.
United in communion,
Your sisters and brothers of the GCC.
II CONCRETE CHALLENGES
a) Discover St Vincent Pallotti more profoundly: “the undiscovered treasure.” It is no exaggeration if I say that our Founder is very much an “undiscovered treasure”, not only in the Pallottine Family but also in the entire Church. How come that this saint, so profound in his spiritual, mystical, theological and apostolic dimensions remains so unknown? The greatest obstacle to the realization of UAC arises, therefore, from the lack of profound knowledge and love for St Vincent Pallotti. Much more needs to be done around this among the members of the Core Communities of the Union. There is, however, a growing awareness of Pallotti and his charism in recent years but there is still a very long way to go.
b) It is not possible to understand UAC without knowing Pallotti: It is an impossible task to understand what we mean by UAC without knowing and experiencing the spirituality and charism of Pallotti himself. From my experiences of the many courses of Pallottine formation in Rome, I can testify to the fact that the participants were always receptive when we presented Pallotti’s spirituality and charism. But countless questions were raised when UAC was presented. A sound knowledge and experience of the rich spiritual and apostolic heritage of our Founder will be a first step in the right direction.
c) Do not reduce the UAC to mere intellectual or juridical constructs: Many members find the General Statutes of the Union a block. We have to admit that the General Statutes speak mainly of the structural and juridical aspects of the Union. A serious reader can also find information on its historical development, its nature, its mission and organization. These Statutes are certainly needed. But they have to be given “flesh and blood” by introducing more spiritual and apostolic content and lived experiences.
d) Evolving UAC formation models: Every attempt should be made to learn from the lived, world-wide experiences of the Union. Otherwise the danger is that the Union is reduced to a theoretical construct, using the same language and terminologies again and again. Formation models need to be developed and should be based on the lived experiences of the Union. For that, we all need to be much more open to these international experiences. Pallotti and his charism have to be continuously interpreted according to different cultures and situations. This is where much creativity is required.
e) Need for further study and research on the Pallottine charism: This is a field where we need to do much more. Opportunities should be created for deeper study and research on the spiritual, theological, and pastoral aspects of the Pallottine charism. UAC is not a finished project as far as its understanding and realization is concerned. With its recognition by the Universal Church on 28 October 2003, we have the definitive answer as to its authenticity and relevance for the entire Church. But our understanding of it and its practical pastoral applications are far from exhausted. We have only commenced a journey of discovery. A theme of great urgency is the question of re-evangelization of the Western world. The question is: how can UAC respond to this challenge? I am personally convinced that UAC can provide a fitting response to this present challenge in the Church. As Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Union, it is a theme that I wish to develop in the future with the help of the most prepared and experienced Pallotti experts, theologians, pastors and formators from the Pallottine Family.
f) Publication of Pallottine literature: If we wish to know Pallotti, we need to diffuse Pallottine literature in all the official languages of our Pallottine world. Though some steps are being taken, there should be a more organized effort in this regard. This is one area where all the members of the Union should be involved – in producing new materials, in translating them into different languages and in finding the resources for publication.
g) Pallotti Institutes as centres of study and research on Pallottine Charism: The Pallotti Institute in Rome as well as the emerging Institutes in Brazil, Poland, Germany, India and Cameroon are to become Centres of Study and Research for the entire Pallottine Family.
h) Pallottine Academic Institutes as centres of formation in the spirit of our Charism: Our Major Theological Academic Institutes in Poland, Brazil, Germany and India should certainly have a Pallottine profile in their academic curriculum and theologizing. Without such a profile, our Major Seminaries will be like any other diocesan seminary, lacking anything specific to offer to the Local Church.
I) Courses of Pallottine formation in Rome: After many struggles, in collaboration with many Provinces/Regions as well as with special financial contributions from the Generalate of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate and the Italian Province of Queen of Apostles of our Society, we have managed to set up an International Centre for Pallottine Formation (“Cenacle”) at Via G. Ferrari, Rome. Over recent years numerous courses have been conducted for priests, brothers, sisters and some lay members of the Pallottine family. There is also a course for one year on Pallottine spirituality. In fact, a new culture of international and intercultural Pallottine formation is evolving within the Pallottine Family. Our aim, today, should be to form universal, open-minded Pallottines, true to the universal spirit of our Founder. We must aim at forming such a new generation, able to transcend the barriers of culture, language and customs. Gifts of grace and nature should be shared among all the entities and members of the Pallottine Family for the common good of our heritage and of the Universal Church.
j) Pallottine pastoral centres: There are a great number of Pallottine Pastoral Centres around the world. Some of them are constructed with a view to animating and coordinating different pastoral activities in the Pallottine spirit. Sadly, there are very few which are able to accomplish such a goal. We need to work towards forming teams of animators in the true spirit of the Union and should aim at pastoral activities specific to our charism. Formation of the laity for effective participation in the mission of the Church should be given great priority. Such centres should have the participative ecclesial vision as their very foundation. Further, “reciprocal listening and cooperation must be the basis of our style of apostolic life.”
k) Greater collaboration between the Core Communities of the Union: It is an indisputable fact that the Core Communities of the Union have an added responsibility for the realization of our charism. There is a growing sense of this common responsibility, for example, among the three General Councils in Rome. We have even initiated a yearly meeting of these three Councils with the General Coordination Council of the Union in Rome. Such a practice is to be introduced also at the national level. UAC and the members of the Core Communities are not separate realities. The Union is not something out there, away from the Core Communities. They are identical realities. There must be, therefore, greater collaboration at the level of members, structures and components.
There are indeed many challenges and questions regarding UAC within the Pallottine Family. We have to aim at forming a new generation of Pallottines who are imbued with the spirit of our Founder and who wish to realize his charism in service of the Church and the entire humankind.
Such a goal can be achieved only when we are able to multiply our efforts, always trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to discover and implement as concretely as possible the rich spiritual and apostolic treasures contained in the Pallottine charism. UAC then shall become an “evangelical trumpet”, inviting all to the catholic apostolate in the Church. According to our Founder, the Union is to remain in the Church of Jesus Christ permanently “like an Evangelical Trumpet, which calls all, invites all, and awakens the zeal and charity of all the faithful of every state, grade and condition.” To fulfil that, we ourselves will have to be first transformed into authentic apostles of Jesus, following the inspiration and guidance of our Founder, St Vincent Pallotti. The Pallottine formative process is basically aimed at helping us to imitate and follow the untiring zeal of the Apostle of the Father, his undying thirst for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Therefore, the life of our Lord Jesus Christ is our rule. In the various circumstances of the day, from thoughts to desires, from desires to love, from love to trust, we need to follow the contemplation and action of Jesus Christ.
I conclude this paper with this message of hope given by the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, His Excellency Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko, on the occasion of the consignment of the Decree of Erection of the Union of Catholic Apostolate and the approval of the General Statutes, at Vatican City, on 14 November 2003: “The nearly two hundred years of the history of your association has brought copious fruits of holiness and apostolic endeavour to the Church. With today’s act, the Holy See intends to express a new manifestation of trust in the Union of Catholic Apostolate that could, at the same time, be a spur to your commitment to the Church of the future.” And now, indeed, is the moment to act!
Jacob Nampudakam sac – Rome – ITALY
Ecclesiastical Assistant to the Union
What exactly is the Union of Catholic Apostolate? Not an unfamiliar question! It continues to be asked all over the Pallottine world and should not frighten or annoy us. It is an indication of the greatness of the prophetic inspiration of St Vincent. For the same reason, we do not so easily come across experts on Pallotti who can answer all questions with absolute clarity and authority. Rather we are all in the process of discovering, learning and experiencing. This is our responsibility and it cannot be passed on to others.
I: UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE: A CALL TO ONGOING DISCOVERY
Many documents describe the essential elements of the Union. Its nature is beautifully expressed in the General Statutes: “The Union of Catholic Apostolate, a gift of the Holy Spirit, is a communion of the faithful who, united with God and with one another in accordance with the charism of St Vincent Pallotti, promote the co-responsibility of all the baptized to revive faith and rekindle charity in the Church and in the world, and to bring all to unity in Christ.”
However, the vast majority of members continue to give different answers to this question. The following are some of the answers which contain elements of truth but, perhaps, not the complete truth:
1. UAC means empowering laity in the Church: But the Union cannot be limited to laity alone. UAC cannot grow and flourish, in my opinion, without the ample support of the Core Communities of the Union.
2. UAC means SAC: Without doubt, the SAC has the most vital role to play in the realization of the Union. But SAC alone is not the Union.
3. SAC members, Pallottine sisters and lay persons together constitute UAC: While these three components are important for the Union, there is something more to it. It is a gift in service of the Church.
4. Lay people who have made an apostolic commitment constitute the Union: Some tend to think of the goal of the Union as having as many lay persons as possible, who have made the apostolic commitment. It is an important part of the Union but is not everything. These persons should be enabled to make their commitment to the mission of the Church, always inspired by the spirit of our Founder.
5. Establishment of structures as envisaged in the General Statutes is the primary task of the Union: It is necessary to establish the structures as mentioned in the General Statutes, GCCs, NCCs, Assemblies, Congresses and Secretariats etc. While structures are important, the primary aim of the Union is to form genuine apostles of Jesus.
6. UAC as an apostolic force in the Church: The core of Pallottine charism seems to be deeply related to the key word “apostle”. The God of infinite love and mercy sends Jesus as apostle of the Eternal Father. We are all called to imitate this Jesus, the Apostle of the Eternal Father. Therefore, the entire life of Jesus is to be the only rule for all Pallottines. To be authentic apostles of Jesus is the vocation and mission of each one of us. As Pallotti himself says, “God has commanded each one to procure the eternal salvation of his neighbour; and since in carrying out such a precept we must imitate Jesus Christ who is the Apostle of the Eternal Father, therefore the life of Jesus Christ, which is his apostolate, should be the model of the apostolate of everyone; and as all are called, rather obliged to imitate Jesus Christ, so all, in proportion to their condition and state, are called to the apostolate…” This was also the message given by Pope John Paul II in his homily at the church of San Salvatore in Onda in Rome on 22nd June, 1986: “Continue to increase your commitment so that that which Vincent Pallotti prophetically announced, and which the Second Vatican Council authoritatively confirmed, may become a happy reality, and that all Christians become authentic apostles of Christ in the Church and in the world!”
In conclusion we can say that the UAC is not an end in itself. It is a means, an instrument, a “way of being” and living Christian discipleship. UAC tries to create an apostolic force in the Church, of authentic apostles of Jesus, through the revival of faith and rekindling of charity in the hearts of everyone. It is not just a question of forming a separate Pallottine group; it is a spiritually and apostolically animated group of persons who, in turn, work ceaselessly to realize the apostolic vocation and mission of the faithful in the Church and the world. We must consider the following as indispensable elements for the realization of the charismatic vision of our Founder.
1. Interpreting the charism according to the signs of the times
A charism is relevant to the extent that it is able to respond to the needs of the time. Pallotti’s prophetic vision emerged as a response to the need to “revive faith and rekindle charity” in a strongly anticlerical, secular world of his time. We are facing almost exactly the same type of situation in the world today. On the one hand, there is the great need to proclaim the Gospel to the millions who did not have the opportunity to listen to the Good News especially in the continents of Africa and Asia; on the other hand, there is the urgent need to re-evangelize the strongly secular, individualistic Western World which boasts of a Christian culture. There is also the perennial need to reawaken the spirit of charity so that the earthly blessings are shared with the millions of poor and the under-privileged in the world. The situations and needs of the countries, continents and local churches are so totally different and hence the first step should be to discern the signs of the time and respond adequately to them by interpreting and implementing our charism with creativity and courage. This will be the first necessary step to be taken for a “New Evangelization” “ad intra and ad extra.”
How can the Pallottine charism be a response to the challenge of “New Evangelization”? Though we have dealt with this question on a number of occasions, we have found relevant answers to it. If we reflect on the person and mission of Pope Francis ever since his election, the obvious response to this question that we get it is that it is only by returning to the Jesus we encounter in the gospel and by bearing witness to him that we can become true Christians and apostles.
2. Developing more of the contemplative dimension of the UAC
Let us not forget that the Pallottine charism was the fruit of an intense spiritual journey of a saint. Pallotti’s writings amply testify to the depth of his spiritual and mystical experiences and to his apostolic commitment. His desire for total transformation into Jesus, the Apostle of the Father was unparalleled in his mystical writings. At times we tend to reduce UAC to some sort of a theological, intellectual or even juridical construct devoid of such a deep spiritual content. Without having a taste of the spiritual experience of Pallotti, one can hardly understand what we mean by UAC. Hence, the priority should be placed on making a spiritual journey with Pallotti in view of a deeper apostolic commitment in service of God and of humanity. As UAC General Statutes state: “The specific spirituality of the Union is the following of Christ, Apostle of the Eternal Father. In faith and charity, the members of the Union are determined to remain united with the crucified and risen Christ ever present among them (Cf. Mt 18, 20); they strive to imitate his love for the Father and for all persons, seeking to live his life-style and apostolate as perfectly as possible.” Returning to the very life of Jesus, living the gospel values in our daily life, is the only way of evangelizing ourselves and the entire Church. It all begins with a personal conversion, the change of hearts, metanoia, as Jesus wanted. In fact, the UAC which is marked by communion with God and others can never be realized without concentrating more on the mystical and contemplative dimension of the Pallottine charism.
3. Communion as the core of the ecclesial vision underlying the UAC
We all know by now that the Ecclesial model that Pallotti followed was that of communion, participation, a novelty in his own time and a common vision after Vatican II. We are also aware that regardless of the courage and vision of Vatican II, such a model of communion is still a dream in many parts of the world. Hence it has become a pleasant mandate for the Pallottine family to work for the realization of such an Ecclesial model. The parishes are the privileged place for the realization of the Union. In this Ecclesial vision, a parish is the place where each of the faithful is able to realize his apostolic vocation as an apostle of Jesus. Such an Ecclesiology of communion should become the foundation of our personal apostolic mentality, of our communities and of our entire Pallottine Family.
Are we working towards such an Ecclesiology of communion in all areas of our Pallottine life and apostolate? What will be the effect of such an ecclesial vision on our formation?
4. “Pedagogy of the Cenacle”
One of the urgent needs today is to develop an attractive and practical pedagogy of UAC formation. Perhaps we may have to search for different models of formation, according to the particular situations of countries. But the essential elements will have to remain the same. We can draw inspiration and guidance for UAC formation from the original image of Cenacle presented by our Founder himself. We might rightly call it the “Pedagogy of the Cenacle” or the “Cenacle Model of UAC Formation”. The following are some of the elements of this model:
a) The Holy Spirit, the creative, transforming Spirit, as the principal agent of formation
b) Mary, Queen of Apostles as the spiritual guide and example
c) The Upper Room, symbolizes a community of believers gathered together
d) Listening to the Word of God and breaking the Bread in a spirit of sharing and fraternity
e) Inner transformation of persons into apostles of Jesus as the transforming experience
f) Going forth from the Cenacle as apostles and missionaries to bear witness to the Good News
g) The spirituality and charism of St Vincent Pallotti as the inspiration as well as the spiritual and apostolic foundation. Hence, we can say that the Union of Catholic Apostolate, best exemplified by the Cenacle, is the crucible where apostles of Jesus are formed and sent out. The Cenacle can and should become the nucleus of Pallottine formation at all levels.
The present meeting is held precisely to face the challenge of formation of the Union members. We need to learn from each other and enrich other through these days of sharing of our experiences in this field. Hence the question is: how is UAC formation done in various parts of the Pallottine world?
5. Missionary Dynamism
The apostles never remained enclosed in the Cenacle. Transformed from within, they went forth to the ends of the world to proclaim the Good News. The Cenacle experience has a strong missionary dynamism; it impels one from within. In fact charity by its very nature urges one to go out of oneself towards God and others. Hence our motto: “the love of God urges on”.
If the UAC is to become attractive and relevant as a means of formation for authentic Christian discipleship, it has to be followed up with concrete missionary commitments. Otherwise it will never be more than pious thinking. Christian commitment is measured by concrete actions of charity, as mentioned in the Last Judgment. “I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was stranger and you made me welcome…” (Mt 25, 31-46). These conditions relate to the most ordinary and bare necessities of life. It is this realization that prompted Pallotti to become all things to all. His prayer is also equally concrete. “I would like to become food to feed the hungry, clothing to cover up the naked, drink to quench the thirst of the thirsty…”
There are so many needs in the world. There are cries for help all over. The nature of the needs might differ slightly from place to place but the human condition as a whole remains the same. There is so much spiritual poverty in the developed world; there is so much human brokenness and material need in the developed and developing world; there is terrible material poverty in many of the poor countries. Perennial wars only add to the misery. A spirituality that does not care for the human person created in God’s own image and likeness cannot be authentic. Therefore every member of the Union, if he or she wants to be an authentic apostle of Jesus, will have to do what the Master himself did. There is no mission other than the mission of Jesus. Living the Pallottine spirituality means being filled with the spirit of Jesus, the Apostle of the Eternal Father. This means a constant awareness of being sent, living for the other. Hence let us remember that, without the spirit of mission, we are destined to stagnate and die.
What are the different missionary commitments that the members of the Union undertake in different parts of the Pallottine world?
Jacob Nampudakam sac – Rome – ITALY
Ecclesiastical Assistant to the Union
"I like to remember that [St.] Vincent Pallotti was blessed to recognize that Jesus is the Apostle of the Father, full of love and rich in mercy."
In preparation for the joyful event of the first liturgical celebration of the Feast Day of Blessed Elisabetta Sanna on February 17th, we invite you to pray to her the attached Novena, beginning on February 8th. Hopefully it will become a tradition in the Pallottine Family. The Novena can also be prayed at any other time of the year.
A pdf of the Novena is available here.
The 8th January 2017 will mark an important date in the history of the Indian Pallottines, the day Fr Thomas Thennatt SAC was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Gwalior – a first for our Society in that country! He is a member of the Epiphany of the Lord Province and hails from the state of Kerala.
The Pallottine presence in India was established in 1951 with the arrival of the first two missionaries from the Sacred Heart Province in Germany. That humble beginning – “like a mustard seed” – grew into a mighty tree over the years. Presently it is the only country in the Pallottine world with five Provinces, 3 of the Society and one each of the two Pallottine Sister Congregations. Additionally there is the Secular Institute of Khristevikas and the newest foundation called the “Cenacle Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” plus numerous lay members of the Union who have made their apostolic commitment. And the Indian Pallottines have not only established several overseas missions, such as those in Zambia, Taiwan and the Philippines, but also work in collaboration with many other entities worldwide. These details are provided not to boast of their achievements but to show how good and generous God has been towards us.
Regardless of all these blessings, one thing still missing was an Indian Pallottine Bishop! Having a Bishop is not so much for human glory but to have the voice of a Pallottine also at the level of the hierarchy. I have always said ‘yes’ whenever my opinion was sought regarding one of my confreres becoming a Bishop – given, of course, that the candidate was worthy – because in the end we are all in the service of the church. We are not even for our own religious institute. Every charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit for the edification of the church and for its mission. Some of our best Provincials have been nominated bishops, especially in Brazil. On 23 July 2016, the Provincial of Santa Maria Province, Fr Edgar Xavier Ertl SAC was nominated Bishop; Bishop Julio Akamine SAC, recently nominated Archbishop, was the Provincial of St Paul Province in Brazil. These were excellent confreres and that was why they were chosen to be good pastors of the church. It is not a loss, as some might say, but a gain for the church and for our Pallottine family.
Bishop Thomas was consecrated in the presence of 21 Bishops, numerous members of the Pallottine family, priests, religious and laity. In the short message of thanksgiving that I was permitted to give as representative of the Pallottine family, I highlighted two qualities of the newly-consecrated Bishop: a genuine pastor and Pallottine.
I know Bishop Thomas very well from seminary days, always a humble and generous pastor who loved the people. God exalted this humble man, like the handmaid of the Lord, Mary herself. He was and will remain a Pallottine with a profound love for our Founder and his charism. His long experience in working with laity and with families, inspired by St Vincent, will make him an authentic representative of the Pallottine family in the wider church.
The Diocese of Gwalior has a catholic population of only around 5000. Its main apostolate seems to be connected to education as it has about 13 schools with not less than 3000 students each. This means our confrere will have to deal mainly with people of other religions like Hinduism and Islam. Happily he is no stranger to such realities since he worked for years in the predominantly non-christian belts in northern India.
During visits to other countries I have been repeatedly asked about the persecution of christians in India. I certainly agree that there have been instances of unjust treatment in some areas. But there is more behind these questions. For people living in a predominantly christian and catholic atmosphere, the very mention of a muslim or hindu can provoke fear and even antipathy. Some over-zealous catholics even struggle to see them as people, also created in God’s own image and likeness. This is where the Pallottine charism has to come in. As we have often heard, Pallotti’s vision of the equality of all people of God goes beyond baptism; for him it is rooted in the most profound anthropological foundation of the reality that we are all created in the image and likeness of God.
Maybe it is worth mentioning here that India is the only country where we have a fully committed collaborator of the Union, who happens to be a hindu! How many wonderful hindus and muslims work with us in the engineering college and the 30 or more big schools run by us throughout the country! Despite many journeys around the world I have never made out if a child was a christian or non-christian merely by looking at his or her face. On the face of every person we see God in his greatest splendour and beauty.
This is my wish for the new bishop: may he become an instrument of peace and harmony among God’s people regardless of their caste or religion. This is the need of the hour. How much blood has been shed in the name of religion down through the centuries. Why all these wars and violence in the world today? As Pope Francis has often repeated, they actually have nothing to do with religion or true freedom. Ultimately they have much to do with the god of money, which is closely related to power and domination.
While congratulating Bishop Thomas I also wish that, in his ministry, he may reflect this important aspect of Pallotti’s prophetic vision, namely the call to be an instrument of unity not only among christian denominations but also among people of all religions. Our prayerful support will always accompany him.
As we celebrate the solemnity of our Founder on 22nd January, may you all feel happy and proud to be a Pallottine! Let us revive our enthusiasm and commitment to be “evangelical trumpets”.
Happy Feast day!
Jacob Nampudakam SAC – Rome – ITALY