Dear Claretian Missionaries,
Welcome! It is a joy for me to meet with you. I thank the Superior General, Fr Mathew Vattamattam, for his kind words, the expression of his ecclesial communion, and I wish him fruitful service in this responsibility which has been entrusted to him by his brothers.
I was told that the theme, which your Chapter is discerning, is: “Witnesses and messengers of the joy of the Gospel”. “Witnesses”, because joy cannot be communicated if it is not present and deeply rooted in one’s life and in the community. “Messengers” because what is good must be shared, and when joy is shared it is purified, it multiplies, becoming truly “evangelical”.
Was the Congregation in good shape according to this Chapter analysis? In this exercise of discernment, how has the Spirit’s voice challenged you? A very sure path to discern his call is for you to begin listening in the various peripheries of our world. There his voice resounds with great clarity. This is especially important for a missionary Congregation such as yours.
We are celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life. For the occasion, I sent a letter to all consecrated people in which I invited them to look to the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm and embrace the future with hope. I repeat this again to you. When Jesus is at the centre of our life, we are able to bear witness and communicate the joy of the Gospel.
To be “grateful for the past” is to give thanks to God for the witness of many of your brothers who, sustained by their faith, have lived their vocation with profound joy, some to martyrdom. It is also recognizing the merciful hand of the Lord who, despite our weaknesses and our inconstancy, continues to work wonders among his People.
“To live the present with enthusiasm” is to establish your missionary plan on the spirit of St Anthony Mary Claret who chose for his episcopal coat-of-arms the motto: Caritas Christi urget nos. To love as Jesus loved must call into question each of our vital and pastoral options.
“To embrace the future with hope” means not to let oneself be overcome by despair. Do not be afraid. It is the Lord who sends. Always turn your gaze to those who await his message, to those who are in need of his witness in order to feel the merciful presence of God in their lives.
I thank you for your lives and for your missionary work. Please pass on my greeting to everyone and to each of your brothers especially those who due to sickness or old age now collaborate through their prayer and witness to the mission of the Congregation. Take care of those who are at the beginning of their formation; help them to internalize the values which your Founder pointed to as a guarantee of fidelity to the charism with which the Lord blessed his Church through him. Also convey my greeting to all the lay people with whom you share your life and mission.
St Anthony Mary Claret, as Founder, gave you a beautiful name: “Sons of the Heart of Mary”. Let every dimension of your life be profoundly marked by this “cordiality” which inspired in Mary the beautiful canticle of the Magnificat. Express the maternity of the Church, mother of mercy, who never tires of hoping, accompanying and forgiving. I entrust you to Mary and I bless you. Please do not forget to pray for me, because I need it.