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Pope's Address to Congress of the Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate (Full Text)

150th anniversary of the death of Venerable Joseph Frassinetti, Founder of the Congregation

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On September 20, 2018, Pope Francis received in audience — in the Hall of the Consistory of the Apostolic Vatican Palace — the participants in the Congress of the Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of Venerable Joseph Frassinetti, Founder of the Congregation of the Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate.
Here is a translation of the Pope address to those present at the audience.
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The Holy Father’s Address
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
I welcome you on the occasion of your Congress, with which you celebrate the 150th <anniversary> of the passage to eternal life of Venerable Joseph Frassinetti, and I thank the Superior General, Father Amici, for the words he addressed to me in the name of all. I have appreciated that in the Congress there was a fraternal collaboration between the clergy and the laity, with the presence of numerous Religious.  It is one of the signs of the times of the Church today, but it’s also one of the elements that characterized the Founder’s ministry: the promotion of the apostolate of the laity, men and women. I exhort you to continue on this path, rendering your parish and religious Communities places in which is breathed a spirit of family, of hospitality, of respect and of generous apostolic collaboration.
This Congress took place close to one year after your General Chapter, in which important topics were addressed. Therefore, it’s a step forward in the commitment to implement the guidelines that emerged from that General Chapter and in rendering the faithful entrusted to you better participants in the mission and charism of the Congregation. The Church doesn’t tire of exhorting the Religious to a dynamic fidelity to their charismatic identity, with docility to the Spirit and a strong ecclesial sense. Such dynamic fidelity requires constant discernment, which in turn is a supernatural gift (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, 170), but it also requires commitment, listening and dialogue. The motto of your General Chapter was the Lord’s words recounted in John’s Gospel: “By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). I encourage you to live ever more Jesus’ commandment as a true badge of your being Christians and consecrated, in the wake of Joseph Frassinetti, who cultivated spiritual friendships and promoted fraternity among the priests.
Vatican Council II reaffirmed with clarity and profundity the universal vocation of the faithful to holiness, rooted in the Baptismal call. My Predecessors developed this theme with richness of motivations and creativity of expressions. There was talk of the lofty measure of the Christian life, of the need to spread the good life of the Gospel with tenderness, coherence, and courage.
Among the Pastors who, in the 19th century spread the ideal of the sanctification of the People of God, Venerable Frassisnetti merits a prominent place, be it because of the example of his life and his relations, be it for his writings rich in encouragement to a humble, serene and courageous path in following Christ. He puts as the basis of friendship with God the desire to love Him and the offering of the whole of himself to Him. Hence, it’s good that you dedicate yourselves to bring to fruition Frassinetti’s ideals, in everyday life, drawing from the treasure of ecclesial spirituality new things and old things (cf. Matthew 13:52).
An important element of your charism concerns vocational commitment, with particular attention to all the dimensions of the life of special consecration. We know that it’s always God who calls, but we can and must collaborate to create good terrains where the superabundant seed of the call can root and not be wasted. In addition, the Church is concerned with the solicitude of the initial and permanent formation of the called, be it to the presbyterial or the religious life. In your last Chapter, this issue was opportunely addressed, echoing the great vocational ardor of Joseph Frassinetti. I hope that this commitment to prayer, to catechesis, to accompaniment, and to vocational formation will always have a privileged place in the life and pastoral of your Congregation.
I would like to refer, then, to the forthcoming Synod of Bishops on the theme Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. The spiritual participation in this event, which concerns all the faithful, should find you particularly sensitive and collaborative in virtue of the educational and youthful dimension of your charism. Don Frassinetti, as did his friend Don Bosco, took up the strategic role of the new generations in a dynamic society projected to the future. I exhort you to love the new generations, to make yourselves travel companions of their journey, sometimes confused but rich in dreams, who are also part of God’s call.
Dear brothers, your charism impels you to some crucial challenges of the historic-ecclesial moment we are living. It’s important that you be present in this process, without delusions of grandeur but with the desire to do all that you can, keeping in your heart the evangelical attitude of useless servants. Do not get discouraged by the difficulties of this witness and ask the Virgin Mary to accompany you, and the young people entrusted to you, to full communion with Jesus Christ. She, Mother of the Church and of each one of us, wishes to help us to live in fullness God’s grace and to live as missionary disciples who bear fruit in proclamation, in encounter and in service. I bless you all and your apostolate, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. Thank you!
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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