By Lisa Zengarini
Pope Francis, on Saturday, addressed the members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (CSsR), commonly known as Redemptorists, who are gathered in Rome for the 26th General Chapter from 11 September to 7 October.
The four-week session is focused on setting the direction for the Congregation founded by St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori for the next six years and on electing its new governance to oversee its implementation.
In his prepared remarks, Pope Francis extended his greetings to the participants in the Chapter and to the entire Redemptorist Family, acknowledging in particular the new Superior General, Father Rogério Gomes.
Don’t be afraid to take new paths
Noting that celebrating a General Chapter “is not a canonical formality”, but “living a Pentecost, which has the capacity to make all things new”, Pope Francis highlighted the importance of the themes addressed by the session – that of identity, mission, consecrated life, formation and governance – to “rethink” their Alphonsian charism.
He encouraged Redemptorists “not to be afraid to take new paths and to dialogue with the world”, while keeping their gaze fixed on Jesus “who emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant.”
Conversion of heart and change of structures
Recalling that the focus of their charism is the “willingness” to face any trial to bring Christ’s Redemption to everyone, the Pope insisted on the importance of renewal in the Church and in consecrated life, “to respond with creative fidelity” to His mission .
Renewal, he remarked, requires a process of “conversion of the heart and mind” (metanoia), and at the same time “a change of structures”. This sometimes implies parting from some old traditions and cultural customs – our “old jars”, which can be a “painful” process, but “necessary” if we want to become “missionaries of hope”.
Being missionaries of hope
In this regard, he warned that “those who remain attached to their own certainties risk falling into a sclerosis of the heart, which hinders the action of the Spirit in the human heart.”
As the Redemptorists embark on this process of renewal, Pope Francis also reminded them that “three fundamental pillars must not be forgotten: the centrality of the Mystery of Christ, community life and prayer.”
Wrapping up his address, Pope Francis expressed his wish that the newly-elected governing body of the Congregation will show “humbleness, unity, wisdom, and discernment” in leading the Redemptorist Family in these challenging times.
Never forget the poor
While entrusting the Congregation to the protection of the Mother of Perpetual Help, he concluded by praying that the Redemptorist Missionaries may be ”faithful and persevering” in their mission, “never forgetting the poorest and the most neglected” they serve and to whom they announce the Good News of the Redemption.