28th World Day of Consecrated Life
Circular Letter of the Prior General
Church in Mission
To all the Brothers and Communities of the Order
On 2 February we shall
be celebrating the 28th World Day for Consecrated Life throughout
the Church and for this occasion I extend my best wishes to all the Brothers
and to all the Brothers and Sisters who
work with us and share our mission. Once again I invite you to celebrate it by
giving thanks to the Lord for the gift of Consecrated Life which He gives
continually to the Church and in particular to the Brothers who belong to our
For last year's
World Day, I spoke about Synodality as the theme around which we were preparing
for the Synod. As you know, on this occasion the Synod is to hold two sessions
- the first session held in October 2023 and the second one to be held in October
this year, 2024. We can therefore say that we are right at the heart of the
Synod, and the Church is calling on us to continue praying and preparing for
the second phase, journeying together as the whole Church, the People of God,
of which consecrated life is an important part.
a) The first session
concluded with the publication of a Synthesis Report entitled "A Synodal
Church in Mission" with a series of very important points and themes for
further reflection, which will be continued in this year's second session. The
synodal approach represents the future of the Church, and this was a conviction
expressed in the first session. Accordingly, the entire Synthesis Document gathers
together the points of convergence, the issues to be addressed and the
proposals to be discerned concerning 20 fundamental themes in the life of the
Church. One of them concerns Consecrated Life. It is the tenth point,
incorporated into the second part of the text: All disciples, all missionaries.
Here are some of the most interesting points in this section:
b) Throughout the
centuries, the Church has always experienced the gift of charisms, thanks to
which the Holy Spirit rejuvenates and renews her, ranging from the most
extraordinary to the simplest and most widespread. The Holy People of God
joyfully and gratefully recognises them as providential gifts by which God
himself sustains, guides and enlightens their mission.
c) One particular
manifestation of the charismatic dimension of the Church is the consecrated
life, with the wealth and variety of the forms it takes. Its witness has always
contributed to the renewal of the life of the ecclesial community, revealing
itself as an antidote to the frequent temptation to worldliness. The different
Religious families display the beauty of following the Lord on the mountain of
prayer and on the roads of the world, in forms of community life, in the
solitude of the desert and on the frontiers of cultural challenges. Consecrated
life has not infrequently has been the first to sense the changes of history
and to welcome the promptings of the Holy Spirit: today too, the Church
needs its prophecy. The Christian community also looks closely and
gratefully at the well-tried and tested practices of synodal life and
discernment in common which communities of consecrated life have matured over
the centuries. From them too we can learn the wisdom of journeying together.
Many Congregations and Institutes also practise conversation in the Spirit or
similar forms of discernment in the course of Provincial and General Chapters,
in order to renew structures, to rethink lifestyles, to implement new forms of
service and closeness to the poor. In other cases, however, we find the
survival of an authoritarian style which leaves no room for fraternal dialogue.
d) With the same
gratitude, the people of God recognise the ferments of renewal present in
communities with a long history and in the blossoming of new experiences of
ecclesial movements. Lay associations, ecclesial movements and new communities
are a precious sign of the maturing co-responsibility of all baptised
Christians. Their value lies in their promotion of communion between the
different vocations, in the momentum with which they proclaim the Gospel, in
their closeness to those who are economically or socially marginalised, and in
their commitment to promoting the common good.
e) Cases of abuse of
various kinds, which damage consecrated persons and members of lay
associations, point to a problem with the exercise of authority and require
decisive and appropriate intervention.
f) There are many areas in which the
formation of the People of God is being provided. In addition to theological
formation, there is formation in a number of specific tasks: exercising
co-responsibility, listening, discernment, ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue,
service to the poor and care for our common home, engagement as "digital missionaries", facilitating discernment processes
and conversation in the Spirit, consensus-building and conflict resolution.
Special attention should be given to the catechetical formation of children and
young people, which should involve the active participation of the whole
community (point 14 on formation). In this regard, I would like to point you to
a website where formation materials on all of these issues are available in
just a few points gleaned from the rich Summary of the first session, which I
invite you to read, reflect on and share in community.
you know, in October we shall be celebrating our 70th General Chapter in
Częstochowa, Poland. We want it to be a synodal experience in keeping with what
the Church is inviting us to do. Bearing this in mind, we are preparing for it,
and we urge all of you to take part in the preparatory groups which are being
formed in the Provinces. I invite the entire Hospitaller Family of Saint John
of God to pray that the General Chapter will be guided by the Holy Spirit, and
that it will bear the fruits we desire.
With my very best wishes to all the Brothers and Sisters who form part of our Family of Saint John of God on the gift of our vocation. Let us experience it with joy and give thanks to God for it!
United in the Lord and in Saint John of God, I send you my fraternal and hospitaller best wishes.