The Vocationist and the Mission - Vocationist Fathers and Brothers

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The Vocationist and the Missions
Solemnity of all Saints, 2004


To all Vocationists

Dearest  Confrere,

May God the Holy Spirit unite us ever more with the Son to the Father!


Introduction

 "The whole Vocationist Congregation must be eminently missionary"  (Rules and Constitutions, Book 1, Cap. 89, Art. 971).  "Every single religious must be a missionary in spirit and in action"  (Ibid. Art. 972).

 When Fr. Nicola Carandente and I asked Archbishop Giraldo Jaramillo of Medellin for  permission to open a new community in Colombia, he asked me if we Vocationists have a missionary spirit. I told him that we are a missionary Congregation, that we have various missions and that we are engaged to extend our missionary work.  Then, he asked if all our religious  go to the foreign missions; while I was telling him that not all go to mission because ordinarily we don’t send our religious to a foreign country unless it is requested or there is a clear knowledge of the availability of the individual, he interrupted me saying:  "Wrong, wrong, father! It’s bad! A priest who is not willing to serve God in the more abandoned villages in this world, he is not worthy to serve my diocese!" To tell the truth, I remained fascinated and at the same time humiliated!

 In a  Thesis o studies  for doctorate in theology, a research was made to respond to the question of why in Kerala, a state in the south of India, there are more vocations than in any other part of the world.  The writer, with all the data, demonstrated the abundance of vocations for two reasons: firstly, because there is a culture of vocation and because every priestly and religious vocation has being seen as a missionary vocation.  The missionary vocation is the one that is more appealing  than any other and it conquers  the minds and hearts of our youth.

 Father Justin understood precisely this kind of reality: every priestly and religious vocation must be a missionary vocation.  You and I have ever asked ourselves this question:  what have we being doing  to make sure that our Congregation becomes really missionary and that every single religious becomes also a missionary?

The example of Christ

 Instituting the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ has given her a universal character both through her apostolic life and through the missions entrusted to his disciples, his followers and continuators of his redeeming work. During his apostolic life, Jesus did not limit the proclamation of the Good News to the Hebrews, the chosen people; he extended it to the pagans and the people of different nations, who went to him. He welcomed all with love, cured , counseled and instructed them, etc.

 Before ascending into heaven, he gave expressly to the apostles the mission to continue his mission: "Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table;  and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.  And he said to them, "Go into the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.  The one who believes and is baptized will be saved;  but the one who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons;  they will speak in new tongues;  they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."  (Mk. 16: 14-18)

On the day of Pentecost with the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles, filled with strength from above, begun their missionary work entrusted to them by  Christ.  "When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and the tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability."   (Acts 2: 1-4)

 From that day onward, we see the expansion of the Church operated by the Apostles, starting from Samaria. In just a few years, the Church had been organized in real and proper communities with their own leaders, chosen and confirmed by the Apostles.


The Ministry of the Church

 Since the beginning, from the time of the Apostles, the persecutions and the  heroism of many martyrs increased and favored the missionary action of the Church.  In just a  few years we  see the expansion of the Church throughout Europe, Africa and Asia.

 The missionary work continued to increase despite the many persecutions and the critical conditions of the Medieval period.  At the end of the first millennium we find Christianity well established  in Europe, Asia and Africa. In the 16th Century, with the discovery of the New World, the Church spread  even to those far away lands.

  In the last two centuries, with greater openness in  cultural, social, political and religious aspects of many African and Asian nations the missionary zeal has been  promoted by  the birth of some specifically missionary institutes and  by the existing Congregations which, with  new religious foundations, cooperated to the expansion of the Church to the  whole world.  Nowadays,  some religious families use the word mission to entrust different tasks and offices to religious. A religious is not "assigned or transferred to", but he is missioned to! How beautiful it it to receive and  take every office, task, or duty as a real and proper mission!

Father Justin

 In founding the Congregation of the Divine Vocations,  Fr. Justin  assigned to it three fields of apostolate:  parishes schools and missions.  "In every field, he said, - the Vocationist is a missionary of spiritual ascensions, servant of the clergy and father of souls through his  apostolate."  (Constitutions, appr. 3-01-48, Art. 269)

Fr. Mario Mario De Rosa, S. D. V., narrates that the same Father Justin, when the foundation of the Congregation was not being permitted in the diocese of Pozzouli, had asked  to go to the Mission by contacting Blessed Paolo Manna of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions  Probably, it was the intervention of Mons. Farina and that of Mons. Ragosta who were in favour of the foundation, together with his poor health, that made Father Justin to give up his aim to go to the foreign missions.  Father Justin remained always a true  missionary of the Word and of the Host and a missionary of  Universal Sanctification.

Mission and Missions

 The mission of Christ and the Church is one:  to bring salvation to all souls.  This mission can be accomplished through various missions.

 Usually, when we say mission or foreign mission , we refer to the propagation of faith.  We refer to internal or parish missions when we talk about the conservation of faith.  Aside from these missions, Father Justin talked about the perpetual mission, the so called  ascensional mission that brings forth the spiritual growth and the universal sanctification.  Father Justin classified the Vocationist Missions as: Missions to the evangelized  nations, Foreign Missions, the Perpetual Mission, and the Mission of the pastoral visit.  We will see briefly  each one of these missions, how it should be conducted and how actually  it is in  our family.

 We are engaged in a mission every time we bring the message of salvation to the souls. The understanding that every one of us has a mission to accomplish gives more meaning and value to our life. Every mission enables us to be more useful to our fellowmen  and make us collaborators of the Word and of the Holy Spirit in their missions to the  souls.

The Society of Divine Vocations and the Missions

 In the first article of the Constitutions approved by the Holy See in 1948, Fr. Justin defines the missionary spirit of the Congregation in this way:  "The Society of Divine Vocations is a clerical Religious Congregation… with an eminently missionary intent and action."  (Constitutions., Art. 1)

 In the Rules and Constitutions,  Father Justin defines thus the missionary nature of the Congregation: "It is established primarily and especially for foreign missions, it tends to expand itself mostly in the regions that day by day are enlightened by the Gospel and aggregated to the  Holy Roman Catholic Church and through them strengthen  the good, Christian roots in the evangelized  nations."  (IR. Art. 1024)

 The above  definition is not new at all.  In fact,  Father Justin had affirmed it in form of prayer in Spiritus Orationis:  "O Holy Catholic Church –  you extend yourself to every age and every  space, since you carry the imprint of the immensity and eternity of God, you call and welcome all intelligent creatures, to make of them the chosen ones of the Lord!  O my Mary! I’m all yours!"  (Sp. Or.  p. 159-3).  As he goes on we can see the total offering of himself for the missionary work: "I consecrate my entire self as an instrument  of the divine zeal for your divine formation and universal expansion, so that the whole world may became one and a great religious of God, in the triumph of your prayer."  (Ibid. p. 165-9)

 "The missionary eminence of the Congregation," is  lived:  "in honor, with the intentions and  in union of the ordinary and extraordinary missions of the Angels and  the Saints, and most of all for a greater devotion  and appreciation  of all the visible missions of the divine Word and the Holy Spirit."  (IR. Art.  971)

 Considering the "missionary eminence"  of the Congregation, it follows that every Vocationist must be a real and true missionary.  The Congregation must promote Universal Sanctification and for this it must implement its missionary nature and spirit without limiting itself  to a determined group of souls, regions, continent or race; it will extend sanctification everywhere and to everyone.  Wherever there are souls to be saved and sanctified, there must also be the missionary presence of a Vocationist, always directed and guided by obedience.

 Our religious Vocationist family must not and cannot be considered as an Italian Congregation, only because it was founded in Italy and its first members were Italians;  It is a Catholic Congregation and thus it is universal.  Today the Congregation is present and operates in nine countries and it is always open to other nations and to other cultures in order to transform the world into a real  "great sanctuary of God."  Now 62% of our professed brothers  are non Italians, they are citizens of the world, open and willing to conquer the whole world for God.  Our openness and missionary growth came mostly in the last decade, even if it continues to cause some troubles proper to every growth, it also helps to form in us a more universal mentality and conscience. The awareness of our universality and missionary spirit will naturally encourage us to study, to comprehend and to appreciate other cultures and languages.  We could not be  missionaries and universal souls if we remain attached to our own little world, to our parochialism or to our exaggerated  local pride.  

 The rising missionary spirit and universality of the Vocationists favour  automatically a certain globalization in the bosom of our family.  This globalization, in its positive values, penetrates and transforms our attitudes and visions, facilitates the expansion and propagation of our charisma and  spirituality.

The Missions in the evangelised  nations

 In the missions to the evangelised countries Father Justin says:  "The Congregation accepts willingly, (even better, the Congregation  takes the initiative in offering its missionary services), to provide spiritual exercises and missions  to the people in parishes,  religious and lay communities of every sort and to diocesan clergy."  (IR. Art. 989.)  These internal popular missions have been brought forward in the past through the initiative both of the Congregation and of individual confreres.  Father Justin recommended its continuity – year by year- to guarantee its ascetical and vocational success. It would be desirable that the Congregation established real and proper missionary teams, destined to these internal popular missions.  Our confreres in Brazil, for a certain time,  organized and conducted the popular missions with a vocational aim bringing forth fair results.  Could or should we assign some confreres exclusively to these missions?  For these popular missions destined to the conservation of faith and the spiritual growth,  Father Justin recommends:

That the missionary team must be composed of at least two confreres for the division of the activities;
That the people be prepared in advance by another  Vocationist "as a precursor;"
That prayers be asked to all Vocationist communities and to other Institutions with whom we have cordial relationship and to the faithful of our parishes;
The Missionaries must shine more for their spirit of prayer and penance… they don’t have to stop their religious observances;
In the missions, it must be offered an entire ascetical course, considering every time all spiritual life in one particular aspect under which it may be presented  or considered"  (IR. Art. 998);
Do not talk always about purgative life and never  suppose that the listeners are in a state of sin, always rekindle hatred and the struggle against sin, even against  venial sin..
Stir and form groups of souls engaged in perpetuating the growth of Christian life as a fruit of their teaching; this guarantees  spiritual fervor and prevents religious indifference;
"Inspiring a large group of aspirants to the priesthood and religious life from whom the Holy Church can select its ministries" is considered by us as the best fruit of our ministry;
Missionaries should not spare for themselves hard works and sacrifices in the apostolate, tending literally to carry out every mission as a divine service for the benefit of the fellowmen, in honor, imitation and union with Jesus Christ"  (IR. Art. 1002);
Those who are in charge of the missions and the Provincial Superiors must provide the daily nourishment of the personal meditation, study and   "a periodic rest from external ministries for the conservation of the physical vigour and for achieving new spiritual treasures"  (IR. Art. 1004).

In our missions we intend to promote the conservation, deepening, valorisation and              assimilation  of our faith.

The Perpetual Mission

 Our Founder writes:: "The perpetual mission serves to bring all faithful to live intensely their supernatural life; to do so it is necessary that every group receives a separate, direct, constant, intense and attractive religious formation"  (IR.  Art. 1033);

 The core of the perpetual mission is every ecclesial community and most especially the parochial church.  The coordinator is the parish priest or the responsible of the ecclesial community; he may delegate such a task to other Vocationist priests, under their coordination. Instructions, meditations, abundant songs and liturgical apostolate are the heart of the mission.  Aside from these, "the program of our seven Pentecost periods, nine lent-periods,  12 devotional months, are based on  the perpetual catechetical formation and on the examples from the lives of the saints"  (IR. Art. 1036).

 This activity must not be limited only to the center of the towns, but it must be extended  also to the rural area and to every agglomerate of houses; it must be done in a sort of an itinerant mission.  "The secondary objective of the perpetual mission, Father Justin says, is the recruitment and the formation of many and possibly of all group of conscientious lay people that would operate in a parish as the Roman Sacred Congregations do for the whole Church; this will make sure that the good fruit of the mission will last forever"  (IR. Art. 1038).

 The goal of this mission is very important: "The practical objective is the formation, organization and direction of the many various spiritual groups of ours; this formation corresponds  to our spiritual commitments, in the parish ministry as well as in the schools and in our missions.  They must function even with few religious, as long as they are really well prepared"  (IR.  Art. 1040).

 The perpetual mission helps  us to comprehend that the sanctity, to which all of us are called, cannot be attained by promoting some extraordinary activities from time to time. It is an ongoing process that requires stability and continuity.  The permanent mission with the daily sharing in the banquet of the Word and the Eucharist corresponds to our permanent formation.

 It is necessary to note with satisfaction that many of our religious, with humility and tenacity, bring forward the permanent mission in their parishes and in their communities, providing to all souls entrusted to them the homily, the eucharistic celebration and the catechetical instruction every day.  Wherever the permanent mission is carried on, there is real fervour, there is sanctity and there are vocations!

The Mission of the Pastoral Visitation

For the perfect missionary work of the congregation, Fr Justin adds another category in the mission field  the mission of the pastoral visit. By this he refers to the ordinary and extraordinary canonical visits, especially of the Major Superiors; he considers these visits as a true and proper mission if they are done with the criterion that he himself suggests: "the duty of the canonical visit is among the greatest that looms over the Major Superior because the religious observances depend much more on it; with this one can prevent the decadence and the fragmentation of the community; it also promotes a steady growth and  ascensional  improvement of good spirit and of apostolate" (IR. Art. 1006).

"The Major Superiors and all the others, as long as it depends from them,  have to use maximum diligence, in order to make sure that these canonical visits be appreciated as they really are, i.e. indispensable for the common good and; they have to done regularly so as to produce abundant fruits" (IR. Art. 1007).

The concept of the visits of the superiors as a true and proper mission helps us to understand that in the mind and  heart of Fr Justin every act and service of ours must always aimed to be  a true and proper mission. What is said about canonical  visits, it can be said about any other service and ministry. With this vision of our Founder in my mind, I report here the norms that he has dictated for the pastoral visits, so that they may be applied to all our ministries: the visitor has to concern himself and look at the spiritual and community life, at the development of every pastoral and vocational activity, at the life of prayer and penance, at the relationship with the confreres, with the superiors and with God’s people. The visitor must also be concerned with all that the Constitutions prescribe.

Fr Justin concludes: "Each ordinary canonical visit has to be as an extraordinary course of minor spiritual exercises for all those who live in the house, offering to the community exhortations, instructions and private interview, all in order to concern himself with the interest of the spiritual profit of everyone"(IR. 1017, 1018).

The Foreign Missions

The parish and ascetical missions, the perpetual mission and the mission of the pastoral visit can be considered as the cause and effect of the foreign missions.  In the popular language, and among the good Catholics, usually, only foreign missions are considered as true and proper missions.

A tripod-stand cannot support itself without one leg, likewise the Society of Divine Vocations cannot stand without its missions, its third field of apostolate! The missions are essential component of our family. None of us can be a good vocationist unless he heartily cultivates and promotes the life of  prayer, the missionary spirit and the missionary activities. The Congregation cannot be "eminently missionary" if its members are not eminently missionaries!

In the past mission activities and impulses have always originated from the religious institutes. The simple fact that the religious – contrary to what happens with the diocesan priests – are not limited to the service of a certain geographical area, identifies them as missionaries, designated to serve in every angle of the world.

We, the Vocationists, who want to see the world as the "great sanctuary of God" and who tirelessly work for universal sanctification (Cost. Art. 4), have as our first distinctive characteristic our  universality. "The servant of the saints, while acquiring specialization in his various roles, should never put a limit to his service to the holy catholic Church, he must extend his services to every area of priestly ministry, always conforming to the wishes of the sacred pastors" (Asc. 907).

While we privilege, enliven, propagate and expand the missionary spirit and works, we have to be prepared and willing to lend our services to the " unevengelised, heretical and schismatic countries" (cfr. IR 1022).

Also in the foreign missions, we lend our service as vocationists and we work as  vocationists. "The Congregation, as a daughter of the Church that lives in this time and  is missionary by nature, works and is always ready to do apostolate in the missions ad gentes" (Cost. Art. 21). "Following its special charism, also in this field of apostolate, the Congregation works to search, cultivate and form vocations to the priesthood  and to consecrated life in and for the newly established churches" (Constitutions, Art. 22).

"In these foreign missions… the Congregation must always and above everything else, according to its charism, commits itself to search for and form native religious and diocesan priests and to directly  cultivate intense ascetical works, in addition to the ordinary work of evangelization"  (IR. Art. 1023).

Fr. Justin adds: "Since it was founded primarily   and specifically for foreign missions, the Congregation must always tend to develop and spread itself above all in those regions that are slowly being enlightened by the Gospel and become part of the catholic Church day by day" (IR. art. 1024).

Our Venerable Father recommends  that the missionary work must:
embrace with the apostolate of prayer and sacrifice, the Islamism "as its special missionary field of activity in the foreign missions", whenever and wherever it were really impossible to do it in any other way,
aim to render humble and useful services to the great missionary institutes and to the indigenous clergy,
aim not only to the conversion of the souls but also to improve the quality of life, whenever it is more possible,
never  despair of the possibility of transforming, with the help of divine grace, all the associations that are indifferent or hostile toward the catholic Church, into  so many great armies for the kingdom of God;
conquer to the Church all those sects that are not catholic, considering them almost as religious institutes gone astray;
retrace and honor all the fragments of  truth in the errors of our fellow human beings;
always cooperate with the Church for the conversion of the Hebrews.

The Reality of Vocationist Foreign missionaries

It is good to note and to remember that, as soon as the first opportunity to open the first vocationist foreign mission came about, Father Justin did not hesitate to send some of the best confreres to this mission,  among them were Father Fraraccio, Fr. Torromacco, Fr. Muccitelli, Fr. Fontana, Fr. Scotto and others. Despite the impelling needs the Congregation had at that time  in Italy, Fr. Justin courageously sent to Brazil also a large group of good, young students - among them were Fr. Polito, Fr. Russo, Fr. Longobardi, Fr. Mileo, Fr. Nuzzo and Fr. Angiuoni - to foster its growth.

Our first mission, which at the beginning of 2001 became the first Vocationist province, is the proof more eloquent of the missionary spirit of Fr. Justin.

It is also very encouraging to note that  most of all our missions came directly or indirectly from our first mission in Brazil.

Today, the Congregation carries out its missions in Italy, Brazil, United States, Argentina, Nigeria, India, Philippines, Madagascar and Colombia. Everywhere, but especially in the last five missions we dedicate ourselves mainly to the formation of indigenous  vocations. Unfortunately, there are some uninformed persons, both in the congregation and out of it, who do not see with a good eye this service of ours, considering it in a certain way as a true and proper "forced recruitment (or stealing) of  vocations".

The Congregation, faithful to its charism, seeks and forms vocations to the consecrated and priestly life, "especially among the poor" (Const. Art. 5). The Congregation seeks and forms vocations wherever they are found, especially in poorer places. These vocations are being formed in the newly established Churches and then they may be serving the universal Church, wherever they will be needed. Our young candidates and junior members are being formed with a missionary spirit.

 While we give thanks to the Lord for the breeding ground of vocations that swarms in Kerala (India) and in the Ibo land of Nigeria, where we are also present, in the rest of India and of Nigeria there is a shortage of vocations.  It is also providential the fact that many of our flourishing missions are located in countries or in areas with a great Islamic concentration, as in the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, in Nigeria and in India.  The great majority of our 257 young men in formation live in these three mission areas.  

 Divine providence, that wants us to be and to work asVocationists, has opened for us the doors to various countries rich with vocations and poverty.  We have to be proud of the investment of subjects and resources that the Congregation is making in these countries. As our young missions keep growing, so it is increasing our work of evangelization in a real sense of the word..  The Congregation serves already two parishes in Nigeria and it is willing to accept a third one.  Also in Madagascar, the Congregation, since September 3, 2004, has being serving the parish of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, outside the capital city of Antananarivo.

 In Argentina, in the Philippines and in India, the Congregation has built spacious, decent houses of formation; in Nigeria we are still in the process of building the second Vocationary outside Ibadan, (even though Fr. Justin Vocationary is still in phase of construction, it accommodates already 31 of our confreres.  With my blessing and my encouragement Fr. Nicola Carandente bought a house in Medellin, Colombia, where we are hoping to admit the first group of six Colombian novices next January. Also in Madagascar we have our first six aspirants!

 Our hard work for the constructions of our houses in the missions and for the formation of our youngest confreres  contributes in a  visible way to develop a missionary spirit and a conscience that is always more vocationist, aside from urging us to generosity and teaching us to live in real poverty.

 The Congregation intends to form the candidates from the various mission countries in their native place and to prepare them to serve in the future in their respective nations; only where or when this is not possible in their countries the Congregation brings them to Italy.  We bring some students from our various missions to Italy to give them an opportunity to learn Italian, so that in the future they may be able to  translate the writings of the Founder and serve as mediators of communication between the central government and the single missions.

 The mixed-nationality of the novitiate and of the house of formation in Rome are a real blessing; this new reality helps us to keep always present the universality and the missionary spirit of our Congregation. Our non-Italian brothers in Italy offer us an opportunity to be open and to understand new cultures, while urging us to learn foreign languages.

 I firmly believe that it also very important to remember that our missions sprung and grew  almost always in concomitance with those of the vocationist sisters. It is good to remember that one branch of the vocationist family is incomplete without the other.  Where or when we work together with the vocationist sisters, we experience a flourishing and a prolific bearing of good fruits from our efforts and everything goes better for both branches.

 Another reality which is almost unknown and unappreciated is the fact that in our older missions, were born and grown the Vocationist Apostles of Universal Sanctification: Brazil, United States and Argentina cooperate visibly to the growth of our third branch.  

Formation and Missions

 Nothing happens by chance!  We cannot have good Vocationists and good missionaries if we do not have an adequate formation.  Before admitting the candidates to the vocationist formation it is necessary that they have and accept our true missionary spirit and that they enjoy good health both mentally and physically.  The formation  must be human, theological, spiritual, cultural, social, technical, psychological and pastoral.

 The first formation is human formation.  The candidate must be a good human being, before he can be a good religious.  Even in the formation, it is true the fact that the grace builds upon nature. The human formation entails physical development, development of the sense of responsibility and accountability, capacity of establishing healthy relationships with others, sexual maturity, knowledge and development of personal talents and  acceptance of personal limits.

 Our candidates must be really in love with the spirituality and charisma of the Congregation, so that they may transmit them  to others.  Nobody can give what he does not have.  The vocationist candidate must know, assimilate and live according to evangelical norms and the catholic ascetical teachings.  A vocationist who doesn’t have a spirituality is like a body without a soul, a walking dead! Spirituality does not consist in knowing the ascetical principles, but in assimilating and living them coherently. A real spiritual formation makes the vocationist to be a missionary with the strength of his example more than his words.

 In the cultural formation the candidates must acquire that science and knowledge that render them first professionals in the country where they live and then specialists in the vocational, dogmatic and pastoral fields.  The missionaries must possess the culture of the place where they are serving and professionalism that renders them useful  to those who need their assistance.  In the Congregation and in the Church those who give bad examples are those who do not have an adequate cultural formation.  A missionary gives a good testimony of himself and of the Church with his culture and the sanctity of his life.

 The Vocationist missionary must be able to relate well with others.  He must be able to have a good relationship with those he lives with;  he must know how to value the local customs, culture and religiosity; he must interact in the sphere of human relationships, difficulties, problems, illnesses, economy and  political local system.

 The technical formation enables the missionary to improve the quality of the life of the people he lives with; it renders him  able to help the people at least in the essential elements of art and profession, economy and commerce, creativity and productivity.  The philosopher Bacon states that:  "a man is worthy what he knows". Applying this principle to a missionary, we can rightly say:  the missionary is worthy what he knows!

 The psychological formation enables the  missionary to be a well-balanced person with a well-defined personality.  Knowing thoroughly  himself, the missionary knows to be firm and flexible, have courage and knows how to control himself; he knows how to live his life properly respecting that of others.

The Missionary and the rest of his religious family

 Having lived 35 years far from my own country, I understand very well the need of every missionary not to feel abandoned and isolated.  Being alone, in the outposts, the missionary must be constantly sustained with affection, esteem and prayers by the confreres.  The missionary more than anybody else enjoys one’s visit, a telephone call, a greeting card, an encouraging word, a smile and a positive news.

 As Jesus did when he sent his disciples to evangelize the people, we too should be able to say to our missionaries:  "I will be with you till the end…"  "I will not abandon you like an orphan."  We, as a Congregation that sends its sons to  a foreign land, must do exactly the same.  In the missions more than in one’s own land, the Vocationist serves in the name of and for the Congregation.  More than the name of the single confreres, it must be evidenced the work and the name of the Vocationists.

 With personal and financial sacrifices, the General Counsellors and I visit  often, sometimes more than once a year, all our missions, to make them really  feel our presence and serve as an encouragement and comfort to the young ones and the not so young!  Our visits are rather long; we really try to render them into real and proper missions according to the desire of Father Justin. Our visits encourage and uplift our missionaries in their hard work.

To the Vocatonist missionaries that have dedicated many years to a missionary apostolate goes our love, gratitude and prayers.  The missionaries are our heroes, our saints, our pride and our joy.

Our services for the missions

 I thank mainly Fr. Alfonso Limone, General Counsellor for the Missions; he has intensified the Vocationist Missionary Appeal in every parish of ours not only to gather some funds but also to let others know about our missionary efforts and to solicit the missionary prayer. By procuring the necessary funds to accomplish our missions, we help our confreres. With the initiative of the adoptions in distance of our students and of poor children, we bring forward the work of the missionaries and we cooperate to improve the quality of life of many people that we are helping.  The largest share of all our ordinary expenses in the Congregation goes for the missions.  We wish to improve and to multiply our contacts with our confreres in the foreign missions through correspondence and email.

Our services for our missionaries

 Through the office of the counsellor for the missions, the Congregation tries to stay constantly in contact with its sons in the foreign lands through letters, emails, phone calls and fraternal visits.  Often in the prayer of the faithful, as in the intentions of the intercessions during Morning Prayers and Vespers, we remember in a communitarian way  our confreres in the mission lands.

 Periodically our missionaries have to re-enter in their own country for some adjournments, physical check-up, some health problems, to visit some relatives and to get what they need for the missions. The Congregation, through the Counsellor for the missions, is always concerned  to meet at the airport the missionaries that are returning home after some years of service in the mission, facilitate their vacation program, procure them medical visits according to their needs, offer them the opportunity of some pastoral service, coordinate and prepare for them the opportunity to make some appeals or some missionary days, invite them and if it is necessary offer also transport to enable the missionaries to participate in some extraordinary activities or events of the Congregation.

 For the missionaries who are returning definitely to their land on account of age, illness or any other reasons we offer all the necessary attentions and - within the limits of our possibilities - we see to it that the missionaries may experience the joy to be at home and to live within a loving family-community.

Observations and suggestions

 Considering the vision of the Founder with regards to the missions, our third field of apostolate, we are aware that plenty has already been done, but there is still a lot to be done.  We see the need of a more intense and direct missionary education among our confreres.  

The missions are not an addendum to our work, but it is an integral part of our spirit, our charisma and our life.  As it has being mentioned in the beginning, it appears clearly that the missions must be the soul and the source of energy also to our other fields of service.

 All that Father Justin teaches  us with regards to the complacence of the Lord and the spirit of humility and charity that must animate us, with regards to the  perfection of internal and external obedience, in the community life and in works  (cfr.  Ascension, 24, 27 and 28), it applies also to the foreign missions; we must always be ready to do and to say:  "here I am Lord, send me…"  (Is. 6:8). As Vocationists we want to understand and teach that a vocation without any missionary connotation cannot be a true vocation.

 Since the General Counsel has decided to introduce once again in the Congregation the year of apostolic work or regency, we are also considering the possibility  (if the economy of the Congregation permits) to spend this year – between the end of philosophy and the beginning of theology - in the mission lands. We are also examining the possibility to see to it that our students learn at least one foreign language  fluently, so that they may be assigned to serve in a mission where that language is spoken.

 To create always more unity and exchange of culture among all the members of the Congregation, we hope to implement more vastly the first recommendation of the 12th  General Chapter with regards to the specialization in the scholasticate  in Rome for the non Italian confreres.

 We are going ahead studying the possibility for a next opening of a mission in Ecuador, where we have already a small piece of land, some vocations and various contacts.  Hopefully if there will be no hindrance, this new mission could be opened  between 2007 and 2008.

 Would it be too much to ask that every priest in Italy and in the United States  procure at least one benefactor for an adoption in distance for one of our students?  When our young priests take their vacations, wouldn’t it be nice if they spend them in one of our foreign missions?

 To give more impulse to our missions, we are considering the possibility of celebrating our 13th General Chapter in India, Brazil or Nigeria.  What do you think about this?

Conclusion

In the name of all the confreres, I thank the Lord for the spirit, determination and innumerable sacrifices of our missionaries.  To them goes our gratitude and everlasting affection.  Without then and their precious work, the Congregation would never be where it is today, would not be what it is today.  In a particular way, our affection and our thanks go to senior missionaries, who with their constant work and their testimony, after many years spent in the missions, are giving us reasons to hope and to move forward.  (I feel partularly indebted to Fr. Antonio Polito, Fr. Mario Muccitelli, Fr. Luigi Bellopede and Fr. Nicola Carandente).

I thank all the confreres and benefactors, who with their prayers, cooperation, sacrifices and generosity have made possible the many realizations of our missionaries. Cooperating with the missionaries every one of us becomes a true missionary, if not like Saint Francis Xavier at least like Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.  

 As usual we can find the most profound thoughts and the most precious teachings of Father Justin about the missions in his prayers:  "Infinite thanks, eternal benedictions to you, God Trinity, for calling me to life, to faith and to a consecrated life, and for giving me the mission to serve the missions as your incarnated Word, Jesus:  a mission which is all in the image and likeness of the mission of your Word-Jesus; a mission that, in a certain manner, is a continuation of the very mission of the Word-Jesus!  I thank you endlessly and bless eternally for my mission so closely united to the mission of Jesus!  (Devotional  II, pp. 993).

 "I consecrate all that I am, all that I know and all that I can do with the help of your grace and of those that your charity unites me with, I consecrate myself forever to the service of the mission of the Holy Spirit. I consecrate all myself to the service of  universal sanctification"  (Dev.  II, pp. 1136).

 "Consecrate me wholly, O my Divine Trinity, in the blood of Jesus and may the fire of the Holy Spirit consume this offering of mine totally, so that it may pass to my confreres, my Congregation and  my fellow men in the Church, in the Sacred Family, in your circuminsession and persons, in the supreme relationship of love with you, O our God and our all!"  (Dev. II, pp. 1707)

 In the first years of life of our Congregation, Fr. Justin gave to all the communities of the Vocationist Fathers and Vocationist Sisters a large picture of the Queen of the Missions, that represents our Lady with the globe in her hands as if she were raising and offering it to the Lord.

 We all know that Fr. Justin always had an open atlas  in his room and it served him as a book of prayer, to remember in the presence of the Lord the various people of the earth.

 It is good and encouraging to see the globe in all our chapels and in some of our parish churches. This should not only be a pious fashionable devotion deriving from the example of the Founder; it should really be a constant reminder and an appeal to a serious missionary commitment in our prayers, in our works and in the distribution of our resources!  

 May our life be an eternal mission, an extension and a continuation of the missions of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in the militant, suffering and triumphant Church, in union with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Fr. Louis Caputo, S.D.V. of the Most Holy Trinity                                                      


 
St. Michael's Church Newark NJ
St. Nicholas Church Newark NJ
St. Gerard Majella Church Paterson NJ
Our Lady of Solace Shrine Church Brooklyn NY
Parish of the Visitation New Brunswick NJ
St. Cecelia Church Iselin NJ
Mater Dei Parish Newport VT
Our Lady of Seven Dolors Church New Heaven VT
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