New Superior of Pallottines Views 3 Challenges

Interview With Father Fritz Kretz

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ROME, MARCH 16, 2005 ( A current crisis lies in whether religious, including priests, really believe «that God is really present in our midst,» says the new head of the Pallottines.

Father Fritz Kretz, 52, is the new rector-general of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, a congregation founded by St. Vincent Pallotti (1795-1850).

In late 2004 Father Kretz succeeded Father Seamus Freeman after a 12-year term. The congregation is present in more than 40 countries, with 2,300 religious, including 1,600 priests.

In an interview reported to ZENIT by Paolo Salvo, former editor in chief of Vatican Radio’s Central Information Services, the new rector-general of the Pallottines spelled out his three key priorities.

Father Kretz said that he would dedicate himself to promote the implementation of the Pallottines’ statutes, as well as community life and the life of faith.

«I think the crisis of our time does not refer so much to the issue of believing, as people today believe in so many things,» he said.

Instead, the German priest said, it might also be due to the fact that «many religious people, including priests who carry out a certain function — I myself included — must ask ourselves» if we believe «that God is really present in our midst and in our lives.»

Father Kretz explained: «St. Vincent Pallotti’s idea was to make every one conscious of his vocation to the apostolate. Everyone, not just the hierarchy, priests, religious, but also the laity, is called to the apostolate.»

The hour has arrived for «the laity to take a step forward to make this Society a reality, and to have some experience of the complete Church, and not just of a part of it, assuming also responsible roles,» he added.

On the crisis of vocations, which also affects the Pallottine family, Father Kretz said that it is «a problem that we have faced in Germany, where I was provincial superior for nine years.»

«We must consider that this is a problem that is typical of our time, which affects all vocations, both the religious life as well as marriage,» he commented. «In reality, people are afraid to assume a long-term commitment for life.

«What we can do is to look at ourselves, at our life, and ask ourselves how we live our vocation. Am I really living as a man of faith?»

«Is our experience one of a true community, or of living in a kind of hotel, in which we share the same roof but do not experience communion, and we don’t even know one another profoundly?» the priest asked. «This is a double aspect in which we must grow and give witness. People want to see witnesses, persons of faith and communion.»

Regarding solutions to the problem of vocations, Father Kretz said that «activity on its own is not enough. We are an active, missionary congregation; our mission is the apostolate, but we cannot carry out a fruitful apostolate, without the contemplative dimension, without silence, without time for prayer.»

«Prayer is a column; another column is direct contact with people, especially those in need, because they are also a place of encounter with the Lord,» added the rector general.

«We meet the Lord in prayer but also when we respond to people’s real needs,» he said. «I believe these are the two ways through which the Holy Spirit can infuse new life in us, and in our societies: apostolate and mission.»

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