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