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Monday, June 5, 2017

Greetings for the Consolata Missionaries

At noon today, in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience those who are participating in the General Chapter of the Consolata Missionaries.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the meeting with the General Chapter
of the Consolata Missionaries

Dear Consolata Missionaries,

I am pleased to welcome you together, both the male and female members of the religious family founded by Blessed Giuseppe Allamano, on the occasion of your respective General Chapters.  I greet you all with affection and I hope that your work in Chapter is progressing with serenity and docility to the Spirit.  I extend my affectionate greetings to your confreres and to all those who work with you, at times in difficult conditions, on various continents, and I encourage you all to continue with faithful generosity in your commitment to the mission ad gentes.  I wish now to offer some suggestions so that these days may produce abundant fruits of goodness for your community and in the missionary activity of the Church.

You are called to deepen your charism, to project yourselves with renewed efforts into the work of evangelization, from the perspectives of pastoral urgencies and new poverty.  While I joyfully thank the Lord for the good that you will accomplish in the world, I wish to challenge you to do so with attentive discernment concerning the situations affecting the people among whom you carry out your evangelizing efforts.  Do not grow tired of sharing comfort with people who are sometimes bleeding due to extreme poverty and acute suffering, as for example is the case in many parts of Africa and Latin America.  Allow yourselves to be continually provoked by the concrete realities with which you come into contact and seek always to offer appropriate witness to the charity that the Spirit infuses into your hearts (cf Rom 5:5).

The history of your Institutes, composed - as is the case in every family - of joys and sorrows, light and shadows, has also been marked and made fruitful in recent years by the cross of Christ.  How can we not recall your confreres who loved the gospel of charity even more than themselves and crowned their missionary service with the sacrifice of their own lives?  Their evangelical choice unreservedly illuminates your missionary commitment and encourages everyone to continue with renewed generosity in your particular mission in the Church.

In order to continue this mission - a task which is not easy - we must live in communion with God, ever-more aware of the perception of mercy which the Lord offers to us.  It is much more important to take account of how much we are loved by God than it is to be aware of how much we love him!  It would be good for us to consider first of all this priority of the freely-given and merciful love of God, and to be aware of our commitment and our strength as responses to this gift.  In the measure to which we are persuaded by God's love, our attachment to him will grow.  We all need to rediscover the love and mercy of the Lord in order to become more and more familiar with God.  Consecrated persons, as they strive to be conformed more and more to Christ, become more and more members of God's family - intimately connected to Him - those who interact with the Lord in full freedom and with spontaneity, but with astonishment at the marvels he accomplishes.

In this perspective, religious life can become an itinerary of progressive rediscovery of divine mercy, facilitating the imitation of the virtues of Christ and of his attitudes which are enriched with humanity, in order to witness to them in all those who set out to render pastoral service.  Be sure to also gather with joy the constant stimuli that will lead you to renewal and the commitment that derives from real contact with the Lord Jesus, who is present and at work in the mission through the Holy Spirit.  This will allow you to be actively present in new arenas of evangelization, placing you in situations of privilege, even if this should involve sacrifice, for opening situations which, with the realities of their particular needs, reveal themselves to be emblematic for our times.

Following the example of your blessed Founder, do not grow tired of finding new impetus for missionary activity.  Above all, it will be your apostolic fervour to sustain the Christian communities entrusted to you, especially those which have recently been founded.  In an effort to redefine the style of missionary service, certain significant elements are to be favoured: such as sensitivity to the inculturation of the gospel, the place given to the co-responsibility of pastoral workers, the choice for simple and poor forms of presence among the people.  Special attention should be paid to ongoing dialogue with Islam, commitment to the promotion of the dignity of women and the values of the family and sensitivity to the themes of justice and peace.

Dear brothers and sisters, continue your journey in a spirit of hope.  May your missionary consecration always continue to be a source of life-giving encounter and sanctification with Jesus and with his love, a font of consolation, peace and salvation for all mankind.

I hope that the guidelines prepared by your respective General Chapters may guide your Institutes to continue in a spirit of generosity along the path traced out by your Founder and followed with heroic courage by so many of your confreres.  I invoke the heavenly protection of Mary, Queen of Missions, and of Blessed Joseph Allamano, and with all my heart, I impart to all of you my blessing, extending it also to the entire Consolata family.
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