Pontifical recognition for Cenacolo Community

During yesterday’s Angelus address (World Mission Sunday) in St Peter’s Square, Pope Bendict XVI welcomed those who gathered and also made mention of members of the Cenacolo Community in attendance:

“I exhort all of you to follow him on the path of holiness and to imitate his missionary zeal. I welcome Italian-speaking pilgrims with affection, in particular the members of Comunità Cenacolo, who for many years have helped young people, especially those who have become addicted to drugs, to find the path of life again meeting Jesus Christ.”

The members of the Cenacolo Community were in Rome to receive the new decree of recognition as an International Association of the Faithful of Pontifical Right.

The Cenacolo Community has two houses in the parish of Medjugorje, one for men and one for women. It’s is the men’s house, visited by tens of thousands of pilgrims each year, that has drawn global attention to the good work of the Community, and helped establish other houses throughout the world.

An important part of the daily programme for community members, according to the founder Sr Elvira, is the celebration of Mass and time spent in Adoration of the Blesssed Sacrament in the houses.

From the Comunità Cenacolo America, here is a report of the journey to recognition of the Community by the Church.

Our journey in the Church

The ecclesial journey of a work of God is evaluated by the Church in small steps of recognition, according to the growth and development of the life and specific charism of that particular work. Our ecclesial journey took its first steps on the Solemnity of Pentecost 1998. On that date, through the hands of His Excellency the Most Reverend Diego Bona, then Bishop of Saluzzo, Comunita Cenacolo was recognized as a Private Association of the Faithful for three years “ad experimentum.” After years of sharing her life with youth and serving them, on that day we received ecclesial recognition. From that moment, the Community was no longer only a good work of someone, but she became part of the Church, hands and heart of that Mother and Teacher who has served humanity for 2000 years and who proclaims the Risen One. Successively, on Pentecost 2001, Comunita Cenacolo was recognized as a Public Association of the Faithful for three years, again “ad experimentum.”

After the development and stability of the work matured through the years, our current Bishop of Saluzzo, His Excellency the Most Reverend Giuseppe Guerrini, definitively approved Comunita Cenacolo as a Public Association of the Faithful of diocesan right on December 8th 2005, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

History and precious gift of this new recognition

With the growth of Comunita Cenacolo beyond diocesan and national boundaries, many bishops throughout Europe and the world, in whose dioceses we are present, urged us to begin a journey of pontifical recognition of the work. Mother Elvira Petrozzi, founder of Comunita Cenacolo, participated as an auditor in the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist in October 2005. She gave testimony of the “Eucharistic miracle” of resurrection of our youth, thanks to the celebration of the Holy Mass and Eucharistic Adoration in our houses. Only after the Synod did we perceive that the “hour” had come to begin in humility this journey to verify if the conditions existed to be recognized by the Holy See.

It had been suggested to us that we initiate the process of recognition as an International Association of the Faithful by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Hearing the favorable opinion of our diocesan bishop, who has always fully supported and sustained our journey, we took our first steps. The following period was composed of careful development of the Community statutes according to the directives received, thanks to the collaboration of the experts who accompanied us in preparation of said draft.

This time of work was also a time of grace, because the various observations received during this journey helped us in a peaceful way to order and delineate everything the Holy Spirit, in the mystery of His love, had birthed in us through the years. Step by step we discovered our specific charism, always more clearly, thanks to the Church who guided us with her wisdom.

The precious gift of this recognition is the even stronger bond that unites us with the Holy Father, with the heart of the universal Church, and with her closest collaborators. With all our poverty, fragility, and smallness, we enter delicately and humbly into the great universal mission of the Church, Servant and Mother of humanity, who brings “good news to the poor, liberty to captives, and healing to the brokenhearted.” We are deeper in the heart of the Church, united to the heart of the Pope, a work of God placed in his hands and at his service, fully cognizant of this great, great gift.

The providential date

In June we received the news that our statutes were accepted and approved for five years. The Pontifical Council for the Laity indicated that it is customary that the decree of recognition be granted on a significant date. We chose July 16th, 2009, Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and birthday of the Community. It is beautiful to see the tender hand of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who guides us and accompanies us on this journey: at the end of our jubilee, the 25th anniversary of Comunita Cenacolo, the Church welcomes us in her universal heart and sends us forth into the world. It is a new beginning with new strength and a new light, with a new belonging, which requires greater maturity, responsibility, and commitment, but also has given us so very much joy.

Unplanned and clearly providential, the date the decree with be physically given to us coincides with another special date. October 16th is, in fact, the date on which “a man from a far away land,” John Paul II, was elected Pope. We also rejoice for this reason that we will be in Rome on that specific date to give thanks to Our Lord and the Virgin Mary. Our Community was born, developed, and grew under the pontificate of John Paul II, and now at the beginning of our 26th year of life, we receive pontifical recognition and our journey of ecclesial maturation continues, as we entrust ourselves to be guided by the sure hand of our Holy Father Benedict XVI. One hand in that of John Paul II and the other in that of Benedict XVI—with both our hands in theirs, we walk safely, securely, and confidently.

News about the journey of our sisters

During the preparation of the statutes according to the directives given by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the role of our sisters was delineated more clearly. From the beginning, their journey as consecrated women has been that which is proper to the religious life, evidenced by their habit and veil and proclaimed by their public vows before the bishop. For this reason, we received the directive that their journey, though it originated from the same charism, has a particular identity guided by the norms of the canons proper to the religious life. Therefore, in accord with our diocesan bishop, we are preparing a statute for a Public Association of the Faithful of diocesan right, directed to become in the future an Institute of Consecrated Life for Women.

It is beautiful to see how different ways of life and participations in the charism of the Community have become delineated in this journey we are making with God, this journey validated by the Church. Each person can find his place of service in the kingdom of God, according to the individual call he has received and the openness of his own heart.

source: Comunità Cenacolo America

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