Vatican City (Fides Service) – “Be faithful to the twofold heritage of your founders: care for the poor and the missionary service, that is the proclamation of the Good News of Christ to all men and women…it is a question of reaching those whom the world keeps in dependence or excludes, the poor, who are the great majority of the people on certain continents but who also live in our industrialised societies”. Pope Paul II said this to encourage the members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, Spiritans, whom he received in audience on 26 May on the occasion of the 3rd centenary of the founding of the missionary Congregation, formerly known as the Holy Ghost Fathers.
In his address, given in French, the Pope thanks God for “all the work carried out by your congregation in three centuries, in particular the evangelisation of Africa, the Antilles and South America. To celebrate and anniversary also means turning the Cape and going ahead. As I said to the whole Church, I repeat again to each of you: ‘Duc in altum!’ Put out into the deep!” Lastly the Pope encouraged the Spiritans not to let themselves be disheartened by difficulties “not lacking in the past and which will not lack in the future, entrust yourselves to the freedom and the power of the Spirit who assists and guides the Church”. See Pope’s address in French at www.fides.org SL (Fides Service 27/5/2003 EM lines 15 Words: 210)
Vatican City (Fides Service) – The Congregation of the Holy Spirit, which on 27 May celebrates 300 years of life, was founded to educate young people and to assist the poor and the abandoned. The small group, which gathered around Claude Poullart des Places, later opened to the missionary spirit and work of Father Francois Libermann. Today the Congregation has 2,993 members: 29 Bishops, 2,192 priests, 209 Brothers and 563 professed in formation. Regarding their country of origin: 1,666 come from Europe, 1,058 from Africa or the Indian Ocean region, 160 from North America, 113 from Latin America, 7 from Asia and 3 from Oceania. There are also 75 associated lay Spiritans in various countries. There are 565 young men in formation 500 of whom come from the southern hemisphere.
Today the Spiritans work in 61 countries on all five continents. For the future they have identified the following priorities: first evangelisation and development mainly in countries destabilised by civil war; pastoral and humanitarian aid to refugees, immigrants, marginalised youth; dialogue with Islam and other religions; adequate formation to meet the demands of mission today; pastoral ministry and development of associated lay Spiritans. SL (Fides Service 27/5/2003 EM lines 14 Words: 184)