“This weekend, Rome will host a new event of the Year of Faith: the Day of Movements, Communities, Associations and Lay Aggregations,” explained Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, and Archbishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas, secretary of the same dicastery.
Archbishop Fisichella began by highlighting that, on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council,“ the meeting with ecclesial realities that are one of the most evident fruits of the Council,” could not be missed in the celebrations of the Year of Faith.
The weekend of Pentecost was chosen so that “the sign of the presence of the Spirit of the Risen Christ, who guides His Church in the work of evangelization,” would be more immediate.
He also recalled that in the last Synod on the New Evangelization, these ecclesial realities were the object of “expressions of gratitude for the inestimable work” they “carry out in different parts of the world, in the most varied services in which the Church is present.”
One of the desires for the Year of Faith is “to create a movement of encounter, of prayer, of sharing and of listening,” he added.
In regard to the different Movements and Communities that are part of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Fisichella explained that “the names, methodologies and instruments vary, which express the richness of the Spirit, distributed in the charisms proper to each initiator, but the objective and end are identical and common for all: to take the joy of the Gospel to all people.”
The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization said that the response of the Movements has been, from the beginning, generous and great. 120,000 individuals have already confirmed their attendance and some 150 different ecclesiastical realities have registered, from countries such as Italy, Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Congo, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Puerto Rico, Slovakia and the United States.
The program for this weekend, May 18 and 19, is reflected in the theme chosen to give meaning to the meeting: “I believe! Increase our faith!” Regarding this theme, the archbishop explained that “faith is also a community act. ‘We’ bears the value of the community, which in the first place is the Church, which becomes visible in the different realities that are a way to express the faith.”
The celebration will begin on Saturday at 7:00 am for groups of pilgrims who will go to the tomb of Saint Peter. At 3:00 pm they will be welcomed in Saint Peter’s Square and engage in reflection, accompanied by music and testimonies. There will be a performance by the renowned group Gen Verde. There will also be a choir of 150 persons from different movements brought together for the occasion. At 6:00 pm, Pope Francis will join the celebration, initially with a prayer to the Virgin Mary Salus Populi Romani, and then listening to the Word of God, followed by two very significant testimonies, that of Irishman John Waters, writer and editor, and Paul Batthi, a doctor from Pakistan. After the testimonies, the Holy Father will answer questions spontaneously, posed by representatives of the realities present.
On Sunday, Pope Francis will celebrate the Mass of Pentecost at 10:30 am, and will conclude the Eucharistic celebration with the Regina Coeli.
Archbishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas pointed out the importance of this meeting, given the great strength these movements have in the Church. He recalled that since the Second Vatican Council, the Popes have acknowledged these ecclesiastical realities as a gift to the Church. They are a “lively expression of the New Evangelization,” he said.