Founder of Vocationists Is Beatified

Established Order to Foster Priestly Vocations

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By Carmen Elena Villa

POZZUOLI, Italy, MAY 9, 2011 ( «Make yourselves true saints, as all the rest is zero,» Don Justino Maria Russolillo would say.

And in trying to help people become saints, he founded an order to foster priestly and religious vocations.

Don Russolillo was beatified Saturday in a ceremony presided over by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.

Justino was born in Pianura on Jan. 18, 1891. His family of 10 siblings was well-off, but above all, rich in Christian values. He was educated primarily by his aunt Michelena.

Already as a child, he showed an inclination to the priestly life. «Together with his little friends he improvised small processions and liturgies in the patio of his family home,» the postulator of his cause, Vocationist Father Giacomo Capraro, told ZENIT.

The family went through hard financial times, but he continued to follow his call to the priesthood. «Don’t worry. I would give my eyes so long as you could become a priest,» his mother told him one day.

He was so outstanding in the seminary that Father Antonio Stravino, then rector of the Pontifical Regional Seminary of Naples-Posillipo, said one day: «If we had 30 students like Russolillo, we would be the most envied seminary in Italy.»

«He always allowed himself to be guided by his spiritual father, showing great openness to divine inspirations and attributing great obedience to his spiritual directors,» noted Father Capraro.

Calling the Lord of the harvest

In July of 1912, when Justino was a young seminarian, a consistory statement was released, inviting all the bishops of Italy to evaluate the situation of the seminaries.

«Don Justino meditated on it,» Father Capraro noted. «The [future] Blessed was only 21 years old!»

But that was the inspiration that led to «a religious family dedicated wholly to the formation and education of vocations to the ecclesiastical-religious state,» the postulator explained.

Thus Don Justino began the Society of the Divine Vocation, establishing a center to educate those who presented signs of a priestly or religious vocation so that they would have an adequate orientation.

Wherever he went, his main objective was the search and cultivation of vocations, especially among the poor and underprivileged. The Most Holy Trinity, the Holy Family and the Church were the three great pillars of his work.


His brother Ciro would also became a Vocationist priest and his sister Giovanna was a nun and the first superior-general of the women’s branch of this community.

In 1947 and 1948, the two Vocationist religious congregations would become congregations of pontifical right.

The communities today work in Italy, as well as France, Brazil, Argentina, the United States, Nigeria, India, the Philippines, Madagascar, Colombia and Ecuador.

«The Vocationist Fathers and Sisters must be, for those who are initiated in the vocation to consecrated life, like fathers and mothers,» the postulator explained of his community. «Ready to educate those whom Divine Providence has called to give themselves to the Church.»

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