Tuesday, November 4, 2014

UAC News Letter

October - November

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Dear sisters and brothers in the Union,
       We are happy to present to you in this newsletter a sharing on the experience of an Indian Pallottine of the Prabhu Prakash (Nagpur) Province, Fr. Emmanuel Joshi SAC, working with Union groups, along with other news from the Union.

 1. AN EXPERIENCE OF ESTABLISHING AND ACCOMPANYING UNION GROUPS IN INDIA - FR. EMMANUEL JOSHI SAC

       I have been actively involved with Union of Catholic Apostolate (UAC) groups for almost four years. The many meetings and symposiums in my Province to create awareness of our charism sparked a deeper interest within me, and I felt an urge to do something practical as a Pallottine to bring our Founder’s vision for the Church to life. So I contacted a few active parishioners of the parishes in which I was working, expressing my wish to begin formation of lay people in the spirit and charism of St. Vincent, which led to a first meeting in Trivandrum on January 24, 2010, attended by nine lay people. During the meeting an introduction was given to the spirituality of Pallotti, the structure of the UAC and its unique position in the life of the Church. We decided to meet on the 2nd Saturday of every month for prayer, study and discussion, the number of participants gradually growing to 24.
       After two years of formation, 14 lay faithful made their commitment in the UAC on the feast of St. Vincent. In his address to the gathering, Msgr. Eugine Pereira, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum, said, “The new members of the UAC have made the Church proud, and it is a sign of laity emerging in the Church as an effective missionary force”. One of the new UAC members expressed his feelings as follows: “I am extremely happy to be a Pallottine, with the vision that gives space for everyone in the Church to be an apostle according to the state and condition of one’s life. I love Pallotti and his charism, because he makes me really feel that I am a missionary despite living with family and running my business”.
       Eight of the 14 new members were from the neighbouring diocese of Neyyattinkara, so that they had to travel a long distance in heavy traffic to attend the Trivandrum UAC meeting. It was therefore decided to start a UAC group at Neyyattinkara, also to facilitate the enrolment of others from their locality for formation in the Union. Together we visited St. Elizabeth’s Pallottine Parish in this diocese, conducting a seminar on the life and charism of St. Vincent. Through the efforts of the parish priest, about 250 lay people attended, many of whom openly expressed their willingness to join the UAC. Consequently a new UAC group was formed there.
       Presently, I am formator and spiritual adviser to these two UAC groups, which comprise 44 committed members. All are actively involved in their parishes as catechism teachers, Small Christian Community leaders, members of parish pastoral councils, of religious associations, participants in education, social and other ministries. Monthly meetings and study sessions are organized for each group on a regular basis.
       The following are the principal activities undertaken by the lay UAC members during this year:
·         UAC members twice gathered the inmates of the Rehabilitation Centre for Woman Prisoners for prayer and a shared meal with them
·         A 700 sq. feet house was built for a poor family in the parish by collecting contributions from parishioners, the Vincent DePaul Society, the social service wing of the diocese and the Prabhu Prakash Pallottine Province of the Society, and blessed on January 17th 2014 by the Archbishop of Trivandrum.
·         Every first Sunday of the month a woman suffering from cancer is given Rs. 1,000 as a small support.
·         The UAC members collected Rs. 130, 000 from generous local people and met the expense a poor girl’s marriage which was solemnized on September 2nd 2014
       The members also come together for a Christmas celebration, the cultural festival of Onam, and two recollections each year. Events like birthdays and wedding anniversaries of lay UAC members are celebrated during the monthly UAC meetings. The children of UAC members are also specially honoured for their achievements in any field such as study, arts, sports or religion. Since family bonds are very strong here we try to ensure that the whole family and not just the individual alone journeys with the UAC.
       The selfless and generous involvement of the lay members in various UAC activities is a source of great pastoral satisfaction and spiritual enrichment. Their walls at home are decorated with pictures, among others, of St. Vincent and of Mary, Queen of the Apostles. The UAC groups are self-reliant and collect monthly subscriptions from the members to meet various expenses. One thing that has struck me after working with UAC groups is the lack of a fixed model of how they should be organised. Groups differ from each other depending on their contexts. Every group is in the process of learning and growth, and so, every group has something to tell and inspire, making it quite enriching for a UAC group to know what is happening in other groups.
       My earnest desire is that more of our confreres be empowered, encouraged and exposed to the ‘UAC-in-practice’. I am optimistic about the UAC because I trust in the words of our dear dying Founder, ‘‘The Society will live and be blessed by God”; I believe that this includes the entire Union, comprising laity, religious and clergy, as co-responsible in the mission of the Church.

2. Celebration of the Feast of the Union in Spirito Santo dei Napoletani:

       The 11th Anniversary of the erection of the Union as a public international association of the faithful of pontifical right was celebrated in the church of Spirito Santo dei Napoletani on October 25th 2014, the Saturday closest to the date of the actual anniversary, October 28th. The response for the Mass of the day was taken as the overall theme of the celebration: “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord”. The celebration began at 3.30 pm with a time of Eucharistic Adoration in the spirit of the Cenacle, which consisted mostly of silent prayer periodically interspersed with prayers or short hymns, led by Fr. Gilberto Orsolin SAC with the collaboration of Sr. Bożena Olszewska SAC. This was followed by a concelebrated Eucharist, led by the General Secretary, Fr. Rory Hanly SAC, which was attended by many members of the Pallottine family from the Rome area and enriched greatly by the UAC choir. Fr. Nicola Gallucci SAC, Provincial of the Italian Regina Apostolorum Province, preached the homily during which, among many other things, he said: “[Jesus] himself calls his disciples to put out into the deep, "Duc in altum" (Lk 5: 4). This is the call of Jesus to the whole Union of Catholic Apostolate, that it may take up with courage, with a new dynamism, its responsibility to the Gospel and to humanity. We are asked to be prepared to evangelise, not to stand idly by locked up in the protective shell of an association which is turned in on itself, but to lift our gaze out to the deep, to the vast sea of the world, to cast our nets so that all may encounter the person of Jesus who makes all things new”. The Rector General and Ecclesiastical Assistant, Fr. Jacob Nampudakam SAC, introduced the renewal of the Act of Apostolic Commitment by all present, during which he emphasised “passion” as a key element mentioned in Fr. Nicola’s homily which should characterise our lives as members of the Union - we are called to be people of “passion” - passion for Christ, passion for the Gospel, passion for prayer, passion for the Church, passion for St. Vincent Pallotti, passion for service, passion for those who are poor and broken. After the communal renewal of the Act of Apostolic Commitment, Fr. Rebwar Audish Basa, an Iraqi priest of the Antonian Order of St. Ormizda of the Chaldeans, gave a moving testimony about the suffering of our Iraqi Chaldean Christian brothers and sisters and others, particularly with the spread of IS, and spoke particularly about the history and the current needs of St. Joseph’s Orphanage, Alqosh, Nineveh, Iraq for which a collection was subsequently taken up during the offertory. As a postscript to the celebration, by an extraordinary twist of Divine Providence, the orphanage turns out to be situated in the very town of birth of Thomas Alkusci, one of St. Vincent’s earliest collaborators and among those whose names featured on the first list of members of the Union; he was official representative of the Chaldean Church to the Holy See, professor of Oriental Languages in the College of Propaganda Fide and had Vincent Pallotti as his spiritual director (cf. UAC Newsletter - August-September 2012 for a synthesis of his life).

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Apostles for Today
November 2014

“Give them something to eat” - Spiritual Preparation for the General Congress of the Union in July 2015

If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our conscience, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat (Mk 6:37)”. (Evangelii Gaudium 49)
      In this month of November, as we continue our ongoing process of spiritual preparation for the General Congress guided by the overall theme ‘Jesus, a joy ever new, a joy that is shared’, we are invited to take up the challenge expressed by Pope Francis above: “Give them something to eat”.
      People are hungry. They search for ‘food’ in many places, among people they may or may not know, using many methods and means to find themselves; they look for the reason of their existence, and sometimes, they are even aware that they are searching for God, but they have simply had no one tell them about Christ.
      These are the people Pope Francis encourages us, the People of God, the Church, to reach out to, to give them that reason to live and thrive, that ultimate goal to work for. And how are we to do this? Through evangelization: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations... Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.” (Mt 28: 19a, 20a). Evangelization may be as complex as preparing talks and retreats to enrich others or as simple as talking with someone, letting them know about God’s love for them or introducing them to the basics of the faith and the Church. The Church needs (we need) to be open to all who are searching, regardless of their past choices and their present circumstances.
      We have a very special gift to share with the world – the person of Jesus Christ. He is the message we are to bring to all those with whom we come into contact. This has been the message the Church has been entrusted to carry to the ends of the earth. Not our message, but Jesus’ message. In this basic core, what shines forth is the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead. (EG 36)
      In earlier times, this may have meant going to faraway lands as missionaries. Today, we don’t have to travel far to find those who are hungry and thirsty. We have only to look around us, in our own families, our own neighborhoods maybe even in our own parishes, to find those who do not know Jesus and his message of love or have let that message become stale in their lives.
      And who is to evangelize? We are. As St. Vincent believed and the Pope says: All are called (EG 20), by virtue of our Baptism. WE are the ones who are to take up the mission entrusted to the Apostles and through them to us ‘to go forth’. At the end of every Eucharistic celebration we are sent to bear witness to Christ by our lives.
      Though these efforts may take us out of our comfort zones, there is a joy which comes from knowing we have sown the seeds of the Gospel. And that joy is celebrated again in the Eucharist. The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy, which is both a celebration of the task of evangelization and the source of her renewed self-giving (EG 24). Best of all, Jesus tells us, ‘and know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!’ (Mt. 28:20b)
      Although Pope Francis wants us to focus on the message, he also realizes that some structure is needed to enable the message to be brought to others. Just as for the UAC the local coordination councils are centers which animate gatherings, prayer, formation and collaboration in order to sustain the spirituality common to the members and to foster diverse apostolic initiatives (General Statutes 60), so the parish, as part of the particular Church to which it belongs, is the Church incarnate in a certain place, equipped with all the means of salvation bestowed by Christ, but with local features (EG 30). The UAC as an association is a source of enrichment for the Church, raised up by the Spirit for evangelizing different areas and sectors and we are asked to not lose contact with the rich reality of the local parish and to participate readily in the overall pastoral activity of the particular church (EG 29). St. Vincent Pallotti founded the Union to serve the Church... Therefore, the members of the Union are committed to remaining in communion with the Pope and the Bishops. (GSt 21)
      We are not asked to evangelize alone or without preparation. It is in the parish that we are fed at the table, by Christ in the Eucharist and in the Word of the Gospels, through prayer and preaching, and by the community itself. We are blessed to be members of the UAC, where we learn more about Jesus the Apostle of the Eternal Father (formation), where we share our faith journey with others, where we pray and celebrate Eucharist together and from where we are further encouraged and supported in our evangelization efforts. And although today’s vast and rapid cultural changes demand that we constantly seek ways of expressing unchanging truths in a language which brings out their abiding newness (EG 41), we need to remember that all religious teaching ultimately has to be reflected in the teacher’s way of life, which awakens the assent of the heart by its nearness, love and witness. (EG 42) When we strive to imitate Christ’s love for the Father and for all persons, seeking to live his life-style and apostolate as perfectly as possible (GSt 19) and we give ourselves to a life of service and to fulfilling His will which is revealed to us above all through the Sacred Scriptures, the teachings of the Church and the signs of the times (GSt 18), we are living evangelization for all to see.
      But just as it takes us time to grow in our faith and we expect mercy and patience from God and others for our doubts and failings, we must also allow others the time they need to grow. Everyone needs to be touched by the comfort and attraction of God’s saving love, which is mysteriously at work in each person, above and beyond their faults and failings. (EG 44) We are called to live forgiveness and reconciliation as a pathway to permanent conversion (GSt 23e).
      Evangelization is a ‘going out’ but it is also a journeying together, through our trials and tribulations, our fears and our great joys. Let us try a little harder to take the first step and to become involved. (EG 24) Great joy will be our reward.

Reflection Questions
Ø   Whom have I encountered in the last month who was in need of my witness to God’s love for them?
Ø   In what ways am I feeding the ‘hungry’?

Concrete Action:
          We do not have all the answers to the needs and questions of those who come to us seeking help. Let us make time this month to learn of the agencies in our local dioceses which can be of assistance to us and to which we might be of assistance.

                                                              Maria Domke,
                                                                     National Formation Promoter,
                                                                     Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico

Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org