Holiness in unholy times?

- Exciting jubilee academy at the Vincent Pallotti University

On 8 and 9 December 2023 – on the occasion of the canonisation of Vincent Pallotti 60 years ago – the Pallottine Jubilee Academy took place at the Vincent Pallotti University in Vallendar with 60 participants. The theme of the academy was “The phenomenon of holiness – theological and religious studies perspectives – longing and projection, fascination and manipulation – on the ambivalence of the sacred”.

Provincial Father Markus Hau SAC opened the event and then the diocesan bishop of St. Pölten, Alois Schwarz, set the mood for the academy with his keynote speech on the topic of “Sacred claims in unholy times – challenges and opportunities of Christian life today” and concluded that although we live in challenging times, we are by no means living in unholy times. According to Schwarz, holiness is a relational process and is only possible in a relationship with God. In order to walk the path of holiness, both are needed: man must remain close to God, because God always remains close to man.

The imperfection of the blessed and the saints

The second day of the event offered a varied programme of lectures and addressed the sacred from various perspectives, combined with a brief look at other cultures and religions. What may sound unwieldy was realised in an exciting and entertaining way. Topics included “Saints – imperfect role models” and “India – holy ground, holy land”.
The programme was designed by the Pallotti Institute to include the intercultural dimension and a look at other religions. Anton Rüttenauer explained the biblical foundations of holiness, which is always for someone, i.e. an expression of relationship. Anton Witwer SJ, who was the Jesuit postulator general for canonisations for many years and headed the Institute for Spirituality at the Gregorian University, emphasised the imperfection of the blessed and saints and pointed out that canonisation is not intended to highlight the moral quality of the people in question, but rather the work of God.

From songs of praise to white metal

Dr Stefan Ley, Head of the Catholic Youth Work Centre Westerwald/Rhein-Lahn and youth pastor, who is a thoroughbred musician himself, gave a rousing talk on the topic of “God is a DJ – about pop music and faith”. Using audio examples, he invited the audience on a journey through the landscape of various musical genres and analysed them, from classic songs of praise to rock, pop, soul and white metal. He emphasised the importance of a pastoral openness to modern and popular spiritual songs, without which he would not be able to work in pastoral ministry.

The jubilee academy was praised by the participants as constructive, multifaceted and inspiring, which was also evident at all times from the good and relaxed atmosphere.

Text and photos: Vinzenz Pallotti University
Photographer: Daniela Hahn

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