Pope Francis and the Charism of the Spiritans
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The Congregation of the Holy Spirit, also known as the Spiritans, recently celebrated the 175th anniversary of their re-foundation. In an address to members of the congregation, Pope Francis described their charism as being like the hand of God that caresses the people. He emphasized the importance of courage, openness, and abandonment to the action of the Spirit in carrying out the mission of the Spiritans.
The Pope described the Spiritans' charism as being like the hand of God that caresses the people. This tender God always caresses each one of the Spiritans, as they carry out their mission to evangelize the poor, accept missions where no one else wants to go, and favor service to the most abandoned.
The Pope emphasized the importance of courage, openness, and abandonment to the action of the Spirit in carrying out the mission of the Spiritans. These values were already evident in the story of the order's first foundation. Fr. Claude-FranĂ§ois Poullart des Places, the founder of the Spiritans, renounced the prospect of a tranquil future and exposed himself to sacrifices, misunderstandings, and opposition to follow his calling.
The Spiritan's founder, then a young deacon, along with twelve seminary companions, driven by the Spirit, courageously embarked on an unexpected adventure. Through many unforeseen events, docility to the action of the Spirit transformed his life into a series of courageous assents. God started something new in him and through him in others as well.
The second foundation of the congregation was in 1848. The Holy Spirit asked the community to share all the fruits of its past in a new scenario. This was a time of joining with new companions, those of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Mary, who were also missionaries but who had a different history. The brothers of the two families accepted the challenge, joining forces and sharing what they had for a new beginning.
Pope Francis stressed that the order has grown because its members have always stayed faithful to the spirit of their origins. The Spiritans' charism, open and respectful, is particularly precious today in a world where the challenge of interculturality and inclusion is alive and urgent, within the Church and outside it.
The Pope urged each person present not to give up their courage and inner freedom but rather to cultivate it and make it a feature of their apostolate. This was the great intuition of the Spiritans' founders and the beautiful testimony of so many brothers and sisters who have gone before them. It is also the wish and invitation the Pope addresses to them today.
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