St. Vincent Pallotti and the Union of Catholic Apostolate

By | September 4, 2019


(lighthearted classical music) – Welcome to this presentation
on St. Vincent Pallotti and the Union of Catholic Apostolate. I’m Father Frank Donio, the director of the
Catholic Apostolate Center. Thank you for joining me. Let’s talk about St. Vincent Pallotti and the Union of Catholic Apostolate. St. Vincent Pallotti, as we can see here, was a Roman diocesan priest and he lived in the first half
of the 19th century in Rome from 1795 to 1850. That was the period of time that he lived. As we see here he is
showing the Blessed Mother and what he’s trying to point to is that she is Mother of Divine Love and that her son is inviting us into a relationship with himself. She’s pointing to him and he
is always pointing, Pallotti, to this relationship, this encounter, with the Lord Jesus Christ. Pope Francis, when he was in Philadelphia in September of 2015, spoke about a way in which
we could be as the faithful. “One of the greatest challenges,” he said, “facing the Church in this generation “is to foster in all the faithful “a sense of personal responsibility “for the Church’s mission, “and to enable them to
fulfill that responsibility “as missionary disciples, “as a leaven of the Gospel in our world.” That was in 2015. Pallotti was talking about
this back in the 1830s in Rome, and I’ll be telling you more
about that in a few moments. St. Vincent Pallotti was an apostle, someone who was very much out
in the streets with people, but he was also a mystic. A person who had a mystical
encounter with God, who is Infinite Love, and he lived that out
in his love of neighbor. Because he was in Rome and spent his entire ministry, born in Rome, spent his
entire ministry in Rome, and died in Rome, he had the opportunity
to draw from a variety of spiritual traditions
within Catholicism, but he arrived at something new. Here is his Rome, we consider the historic center. So much of his ministry is spent in this area of Rome. We see where he was born and where he lived are very close to one another. Right about where number three is, that’s where his house
was where he was born. Where number one is on
that map is where he died, so much of his ministry was
in this portion of Rome. We have to understand what
Rome was like at this time. Pope Pius VI was run out of Rome in 1799, when Pallotti was four years old. He died in exile. Then Pope Pius VII was
taken by Napoleon in 1809 and in 1815 is only when he returned. Pallotti was ordained a priest in 1818, so pretty much for the
first 20 years of his life there was this turmoil of revolution as a result of the French Revolution in 1789 in Rome, in France and then it affected Rome. Pallotti had this difficult situation on his hands. He saw people who were baptized throw off their faith as if they were wearing a coat. Taking it, throwing it aside, and not really living their faith day to day anymore. In fact, becoming antagonistic
against the Church, trying to overthrow the Church, and certainly trying to push aside any belief in Jesus Christ. Pallotti wanted to revive their faith and help all to rekindle charity because he saw the many
poor, the struggling, the suffering, those who were sick, those who were in need, and he wanted to draw
them into greater unity with one another and with Christ. As I said, here is the picture or a drawing of the house
in which he was born at Via del Pellegrino 130, and it was here that he grew up with his parents who were very devout. His father was a merchant and he had certainly opportunity, many different opportunities, but from an early age showed
a desire to be a priest. In 1818 he was ordained a
priest for the diocese of Rome. He would always look at
ways in which he could move away from himself
and move toward God. Not the intellect, but God. Not the will, but God. God in all things forevermore. He wanted to seek God in everyday life. “Seek God and you will find God. “Seek God in all things and you
will find God in all things. “Seek God everywhere “and you will find God everywhere.” He lived out his priesthood in this way, as an educator working with seminarians. As a person who would
literally be in the streets, preaching. Listening to confessions
hours into the night. Caring for the poor. Working together with
others who eventually also became saints and blesseds who were in the city of Rome, serving the needs of
people where they were, and then drawing other people together to help in this way. Because Pallotti saw
that all are in the image and likeness of God. We’re all created in the
image and likeness of God as the Book of Genesis tells us, but that we cannot allow another
image and likeness of God to suffer. That that image and likeness of God, if they’re suffering, we need to do something about that. Pallotti did everything he could to do something about that. After mass on January 9, 1835 he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Inspired to do what? To form what he called a pious institution of a universal apostolate
among all Catholics in order to propagate
the faith and religion of Jesus Christ among all. Another hidden apostolate to revive, maintain and increase the
faith among Catholics. An institution of universal charity for the practice of all
the spiritual and corporal works of mercy so that,
as far as possible, you, Infinite God, may be recognized in all as Infinite Love. This threefold aspect was
very important to Pallotti. To go out to the world. The Church was moving out
into mission countries in various parts of the world, particularly in his time
moving out into Africa and in Asia and also the needs of
Catholics in the Middle East. He saw this need also in
his own home area of Rome, in Italy, in Europe, to revive and maintain
and increase the faith among Catholics, but then also this need to come together and care in charity. So reviving faith, rekindling charity, and he understood how. That all had to do this. He called it Catholic Apostolate. Laity, religious, and
clergy were all involved, all together, but how were they? They were together similar to the apostles and disciples in the Upper Room, the coming of the Holy
Spirit at Pentecost, and that community that would
continue to come together and would go forth even after Pentecost but would continue to come together, would work together with one another. That each of them had
charisms that were given by the Holy Spirit, gifts of the Holy Spirit, that then they took and
went forth in mission but they came together once again always in the community of faith, and that together they would go forward. They would do what he
called holy cooperation or collaborate with one another so as to be able to serve and to go forth and to let people know about Jesus Christ, who saves, which continues to be the
mission of the Church. We are continually being
a part of that mission, and Pallotti saw that all
were called to that mission, including and especially the laity. This was long before the
Second Vatican Council solemnly confirmed Pallotti’s prophetic vision, as Pope St. John Paul II would say in its decree on the apostle laity and also in the Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium, that we share, all of us, as baptized in Christ’s mission, priest, prophet, and king. As I said he was also a mystic. He encountered God who is Infinite Love and he looked toward the
infinite glory of God. Everything he did was for
the infinite glory of God. “My God, my Jesus, “I intend to have loved You “and to love You with
all the love that was, “is, and will be, “that could be and should have been “in time and eternity “and with all Your infinite love.” These are the words of a mystic, somebody who has had this
encounter with Christ in a deep and profound way. Pallotti drew together this group, this Union of Catholic Apostolate, and out of that came a community
of priests and brothers, communities of sisters. When he died though in 1850 on January 22, he only had 12 priests and brothers, a handful of sisters, some lay people, and not that many. It wasn’t a huge movement. 100 years later he was
beatified by Pope Pius XII and then canonized on January 20, just after the first session of the Second Vatican Council had closed in December of 1962, on January 20, 1963 Pope St. John XXIII canonized Pallotti, enrolled him in the canon of saints. But why? Because of this personal holiness, but also his insight, his inspiration, his understanding that all
are called to be apostles. In 2003, Pope St. John Paul II truly confirmed this understanding by erecting as an international
public association of the faithful the Union
of Catholic Apostolate. What had happened in the interim is that there was a small group who began a community life, and in 1846 there was a first rule for priests and brothers. In 1850 as I said there
were 12 priests and brothers when Pallotti died. Today there are over 2,300 Pallottine Fathers and Brothers in over 53 countries. He also started work for orphan girls, the charity home of St. Agatha in Rome. Over time two main congregations, the Congregation of Sisters
of the Catholic Apostolate and the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate came to be formed over time, along with several smaller congregations. The focus after 1854 was primarily about the missions, and that was the need of
the Church at the time. This larger vision of
Pallotti about lay people, clergy and religious all
collaborating with one another in the Catholic Apostolate
was somewhat lost. The name of Catholic Apostolate
was restored in 1947, and as I said Pallotti
was beatified in 1950, canonized in 1963. After the Second Vatican Council, when all religious communities were called to go back
and look at their charism, once again there was a reflection among the whole of the Pallottine family. Priests, Brothers, and Sisters as well as those lay
communities that were, found themselves coming out of the charism of St. Vincent Pallotti, and in that reflection
they came to understand and petition the Church
to truly bring forth Pallotti’s full vision of everyone together. Even though there is a separate identity, separate congregations, separate groups, they’re all one within this international public
association of the faithful called the Union of Catholic Apostolate. In 2003 this came about. This is a way of being Church, which is the mission of the Union. In its general statutes it talks about, “The Union of Catholic Apostolate, “a gift of the Holy Spirit, “is a communion of the faithful, “all of the faithful gathered together, “who are united with
God and with one another “in accordance with the charism
of St. Vincent Pallotti.” To do what? “To promote the co-responsibility
of all the baptized “to revive faith and rekindle charity “in the Church and in the world, “and to bring all to unity in Christ.” Christ is always at the center, but we do this together. Reviving faith, rekindling charity. Not just simply in the
Church but in the world. Pope Francis in October of 2016, when speaking to the
Pallottine family said, “The Union of Catholic Apostolate, “which is the bearer of the
charism of St. Vincent Pallotti, “offers so many spaces
and opens new horizons “for participating in the
mission of the Church.” As we conclude this short time together, talking about St. Vincent Pallotti and the Union of Catholic Apostolate, the Union of Catholic Apostolate draws all into and
invites all to collaborate so as to revive faith, rekindle charity, and help all to be united in Christ, in Christ who is apostle
of the Eternal Father, because we too are all apostles. We who are baptized and confirmed are called to be apostles to go out, out into the world. The Catholic Apostolate Center is a way in which you can learn more about reviving faith, rekindling charity, and forming apostles. Learn more at
CatholicApostolateCenter.org. May the charity of Christ urge us on. (upbeat classical music)

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