VATICAN CITY, JULY 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Saying the task to proclaim the Gospel to the poor is “as urgent as ever,” John Paul II stressed the need to explore ways to respond to the new forms of poverty in society.
The Pope gave that indication in a message to the 40th general assembly of the Congregation of the Mission, being held in Rome through July 29.
The message is addressed to Father Gregory Gay, who was elected superior general of the congregation and of the Daughters of Charity. The American became the 23rd successor of St. Vincent de Paul, who founded the religious family in 1625 for the evangelization of the poor and the formation of the clergy.
“Four centuries after your foundation, the task of ‘bringing good news to the poor’ remains as urgent as ever,” the Holy Father said in his message. “Not only do millions of people throughout the world lack the basic necessities of life, but the modern world is afflicted by many other forms of poverty.”
“Your congregation is called to explore new ways of conveying the liberating message of the Gospel to our suffering brothers and sisters. Be assured of the support of my prayers as you seek to respond generously to these challenges,” the Holy Father wrote.
“Remember that all apostolic activity draws its efficacy from an intimate personal relationship with Christ. The more you draw from the well-springs of Christian life and holiness through an ever deeper commitment to personal and liturgical prayer, the more closely you will be conformed to him whom you serve,” the papal message said.
“With hearts open to God’s love, you will be able to witness effectively in a world that cries out in hunger for the healing that only God can bring,” the Pope stated.
He highlighted the congregation’s other priority, saying, “Many generations of priests have reason to thank your congregation for the formation they have received at your hands. The importance of this apostolate cannot be overstated.”
“Consequently it is essential to assign exemplary priests to this work: priests of human and spiritual maturity, pastoral experience, professional competence, capable of working with others,” John Paul II wrote.
“Many Vincentians with these very qualities nobly dedicated themselves to priestly formation in the past. I encourage you to continue this vital mission in the years to come,” the Pope added.
“Not only have you made an outstanding contribution to the work of the Church over the last four centuries, for which she is profoundly grateful, but you also have ‘a great history still to be accomplished,'” John Paul II wrote.
“‘Duc in altum!’ Put out into the deep!” he exhorted. “Do not be afraid to venture forth, to put out the nets for a catch. The Lord himself will be your guide!”
The Congregation of the Mission, commonly known as Vincentians, has more than 4,000 priests and brothers in 74 countries.