Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On June 8, 2014, Pope Francis said these words during the Regina Coeli on the feast of Pentecost: “The feast of Pentecost commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles gathered in the Cenacle…” The Book of the Acts of the Apostles describes the signs and fruits of that extraordinary outpouring: the strong wind and the flames of fire; fear disappears and leaves courage in its place; tongues are loosened and all understand the message. Wherever the Spirit of God comes, everything is reborn and transfigured. The Pentecost event marks the birth of the Church and its public manifestation; and two characteristics strike us: it is a Church that surprises and ruffles us.
A fundamental element of Pentecost is surprise. Our God is the God of surprises, as we know. No one expected anything more from the disciples: after the death of Jesus they were an insignificant group of defeated orphans of their Master. Instead there occurs an unexpected event that produces a sense of marvel; the people are confused because each one heard the disciples speak in their own language, speaking of the great works of God (cf. Acts 2:6-7, 11). The Church which is born at Pentecost is a community that evokes wonder because with the strength that comes from God, it announces a new message – the Resurrection of Christ – with a new language – that universal language of love. A new message: Christ is alive, he has risen; a new language: the language of love. The disciples are covered with power from on high and they speak with courage – whereas shortly before they were all cowards, but now they speak courageously and openly, with the freedom of the Holy Spirit.
The Church is called to be thus at all times; capable of surprising as it announces to all that Jesus the Christ has conquered death, that the arms of God are always open, that his patience is always there to care for us in order to heal us, to forgive us. The risen Christ has given his Spirit to the Church for this exact mission.
Some, in Jerusalem, would have preferred that the disciples of Jesus, paralyzed by fear, would have remained closed up in the house so as not to create havoc. Even today people want the same thing from Christians. Instead the risen Lord thrusts them into the world: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn. 20:21). It is a Church that does not hesitate to go forth, to meet the people, in order to announce the message that has been entrusted to it, even when that message disturbs or unnerves the conscience, even if the message may bring problems and even, at times, may bring us martyrdom.
“The feast of Pentecost commemorated the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles gathered in the Cenacle” – are significant words for our Pallottine Family. Today, as we celebrate the birth of the Congregations of the Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate and of the Missionary Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate, we remember our common responsibility for the life and development of the Union of Catholic Apostolate.
The Decree of the Pontifical Council of the Laity (PCL) of October 28, 2003 has recognized definitively that the Union of Catholic Apostolate currently fulfills the fundamental charism given to St. Vincent Pallotti, as a communal entity. The communities founded by Vincent Pallotti, an integral part of the Union, have the task of guaranteeing its unity and efficacy. The central Communities have a special responsibility for the growth, spirituality, unity and apostolic effectiveness of the entire Union.
The three Foundation Communities effectively achieve their special responsibility toward the Union only if they cooperate in a visible and exemplary way. Where at least two of these Communities are present in a country, they are to organize and work together at all levels “from the beginning,” in their initiatives for the Union.
The General Statutes are linked with the autonomous rule of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, the Congregations of the Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate and of the Missionary sisters of the Catholic Apostolate (Cf. GS 10, 40). It connects them, integrates them and enlightens them. .
The role of the Priests and Brothers of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate and of the Sisters of the Pallottine congregations is to be “leaven of unity, apostolic awareness and inspiration” in order to “give a face to the Union and to make it alive.” They can only do this if the fundamental vision of Vincent Pallotti has “entered into their flesh and their blood,” if they are “open to the Union and capable of rediscovery and of cooperating with all the members of the Pallottine family.” But this presupposes that the Society of the Catholic Apostolate and the Congregations of the Pallottine sisters appropriate the General Statutes, study it with intensity, personally and communally, meditating and reflecting on it and on its relationship to their lives.
The special responsibility toward the entire foundation of Vincent Pallotti requires from the members of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate and of the Congregations of the Pallottine Sisters, that in their initial and permanent formation, there be a complete familiarity with the foundational charism of the Founder as it is described in the General Statutes. They must acquire the conviction that the Union is their specific contribution to evangelization and they must be able “to motivate, inspire and accompany the individual members and groups of the UAC.”
Vincent Pallotti founded the Union “…so that it might be an evangelical trumpet, calling all, inviting all, rekindling zeal and charity in all the faithful of every state, situation and condition.” The Church has made the foundational vision of Pallotti its own and desires that the Union accomplishes its mission in the world in a lively and permanent way. The primary task of the Institute of the Priests and Brothers and of the Pallottine Sisters is exactly that of building up, giving it growth and promoting the Union, maintaining its original fidelity.
The members of the communities of foundation began their service to the Union as communities in the National Church of Spirito Santo dei Napoletani, in the Pia Casa di Carità at Borgo S. Agata and in the house of San Salvatore in Onda. Even today, their houses and local communities are “living cells of inspiration and of Pallottine activity” and “dynamic centers” to fulfill their special responsibility to the communities of the Union founded by Pallotti himself.
The Union will receive fruitful suggestions from the local houses and communities in the intentions of Vincent Pallotti when their style of life and their behavior are characteristic of their relationship to the Union. They are challenged to achieve the essential characteristics according to the model of the Cenacle and to strive to become “houses and schools of communion.”
This, for us, members of the communities of foundation, is a favorable moment to reflect, pray and commit ourselves to spread the gift of the charism of our beloved founder, St. Vincent. Unfortunately, at times there is the tendency to see the Union as an external reality, constituted only by groups of laity. All of us together can build up the Union and in this is the beauty of our charism. Let us always remember this great responsibility of the communities founded by Vincent Pallotti for the growth, the spirituality, the unity and apostolic effectiveness of the entire Union.
Jacob Nampudakam, SAC
Rome, SS. Salvatore in Onda, May 15, 2016
The Anniversary Mass of the Foundation of the Pallottine Sisters