Clear Words on the Feast Day of St Vincent Pallotti
Friends and guests joined the Pallottine Family in celebrating the Feast of St Vincent Pallotti
Around January 22 which marks the anniversary of the memory and death of St Vincent Pallotti, the Pallottine Family celebrated the Feast of St Vincent Pallotti worldwide. Since this year also marked the 60th anniversary of the canonization, it was a double reason for joy.
In the feasts’s sermons, speeches and lectures, the thoughts and inspirations of the saint were transformed into today. All over the places, people were especially happy that they could meet again in person.
The Friedberg Pallotti Feast
A strong musical emphasis was put on the Friedberg Pallotti Feast celebrated on Sunday, January 22, in the Pallotti Church in the German town of Friedberg. Rector Fr Christoph Lentz had invited the musical group “Rebzweige” from his hometown district of Augsburg-Bärenkeller to arrange the service. As a former member of the group, Fr Lentz then sang the High Prayer in an impressive manner. Earlier, in his homily, he had called for the little man from Rome named Vincent Pallotti to motivate us to spread the message of Jesus.
Fr Christoph Lentz opened the service referring to a series of numbers: 173-60-10: 173 years ago Pallotti died, 60 years ago he was canonized, and ten years ago the Pallotti Church was rededicated “for the celebration of life and faith.” But as Fr Lentz then went on to explain in his homily, in the meantime it has also been 2,000 years that people have heard the message of the Gospel that has always been read on Pallotti’s Feast Day for the past 60 years: “The kingdom of God is at hand.”
Fr Lentz critically commented, “Sometimes I get the impression that the kingdom of God is farther away than ever.” Even within the Church, which more and more people are leaving, where all the singing, baking and celebrating have not been enough for lively congregations, and which is even in danger of dying out, even if “church leaders claim it cannot die,” Fr Lentz noted.
The church facing a Tipping Point
Borrowing an expression from the climate change debate, Lentz stated, “We are facing a tipping point.” And at that point, he said, Jesus’ invitation applies, “Go, I am sending you. The kingdom of God is at hand.” He said there is a need for people who make God’s riches visible and who do not look away but look, even where the weak spots are. “Who took away from the Church the seeing eye that makes clarification possible?” asked Fr Lentz. Jesus, after all, was one who looked and asked to look.
And Pallotti, driven by the love of God, also took up what he saw. “He wanted to enliven faith, ignite love and lead everyone to Christ,” Fr Lentz said. “That’s the challenge today as well.” Fascinated by the idea that God was infinite, and therefore incomprehensible, Pallotti was able to widen the gaze and motivate people, he said.
60 years after the canonization, the Pallottines therefore looked ahead with confidence. For the great questions of today, they also existed at that time, said the Pallottine Father, adding, “But Pallotti always found an answer.”
Together with the Vice-Provincial, Fr Björn Schacknies, the Vice-Rector, Fr Rainer Schneiders, the Confreres from Friedberg and the surrounding area, guests from the deanery and the staff of the Provincialate, the festive service ended with a common reception and lunch.
Text & Pictures: Alexander Schweda UAC
The Merrivale Pallotti Feast
In our “Formation House” in the South African town of Merrivale, too, the Confreres and our 25 Pallottine students celebrated the Saint’s Feast Day. The service was shared with formators Fr Ndumiso Mkhize, Fr Christian Odionye and Fr Innocent Sosibo.
Pictures: Fr Michael Emmanuel Ndau SAC
The Kohlhagen Pallotti Feast
About 70 volunteers and staff from the Pallotti Youth Center in Altenhundem, from the Kohlhagen parish and the Kohlhagen Spiritual Center met on St. Vincent Pallotti’s Memorial Day to celebrate and meet with one another.
“Whoever looks attentively at the present world situation with regard to religion clearly feels that, in spite of the vexations of which our age is witness, there is a strong need for faith.” – This quote is well suited to our times, but it is over 150 years old and was said by the Roman priest and founder of the Order, St. Vincent Pallotti.
During this year’s Pallotti celebration at Kohlhagen, Fr Siegfried Modenbach showed in his sermon that Pallotti’s ideas are more relevant today than ever. Modenbach especially referred to Pallotti’s idea that every person is called to carry the faith in God into the world.
Especially in view of the widespread church fatigue, each and every one is commissioned to bear co-responsibility. In doing so, Fr Modenbach also took those present to task: “If we are not able to love our nearest person, how are we supposed to love God?”
Following the service, those present were still invited to a small celebration in the pilgrims’ hall of the Spiritual Center. There, Fr Jürgen Heite, who had also celebrated the mass, and the director of the Pallotti Youth Center, Georg Hunold, welcomed many guests. Among others, employees of the Spiritual Center as well as of the Jugendhof Pallotti from Altenhundem, the Olpe-based group “Pallotti unterwegs” and committed people around Kohlhagen accepted the invitation.
In addition to a brief insight into the activities on site and a short film biography of Pallotti, which was the focus of the celebration, old acquaintances were deepened and new contacts were made during the subsequent snack. One could sense what Fr Heite summed up as, “We’ve only been here for a year and a half, but we’ve already really made ourselves at home!”
Text: Christoph Scheppe UAC
Photos: Kerstin Halbe and Christoph Scheppe UAC
Pallotti Feast at Vallendar’s Haus Wasserburg
We, at Haus Wasserburg, celebrated the Pallotti Feast on three days: Friday evening with a WortWeise, which was originally intended to enrich the symposium taking place at the University, an event that, unfortunately, had to be cancelled. Texts following the footsteps of our founder and songs about this written by Fr Alexander Diensberg SAC and Fr Jörg A. Gattwinkel SAC alternated, much to the stimulation of the small group of listeners.
On Saturday afternoon we came together with our volunteers to share ideas and thoughts after short statements from their circle dealing with the theme of “Together. Church. Different. – but how? The high motivation of the approximately 70 guests brought together a catalog of suggestions for the house of education as well as for the Pallottine Church, which we will consider together in the near future.
A vegetarian dinner in several courses led into the evening, which lasted into the night with many conversations. On Sunday we celebrated St. Vincent Pallotti in the services, the second of which was accompanied by the WortWeise project choir.
Text & Pictures: Fr Jörg A. Gattwinkel SAC
Pallotti Feast at Vallendar’s University
Fr Hubert Lenz delivered the festive sermon in the church of St. Vincent Pallotti University in Vallendar: In his time, St. Vincent Pallotti was concerned about a change in priestly activity. He felt the need of many Christians for priestly assistance but had the impression that the clergy was primarily concerned with themselves. He felt urged to participate in a renewal.
“All are called as believers to be apostles – called to carry God’s presence and God’s love to man” was, according to Fr Lenz, Vincent Pallotti’s concern and mission. Priests have the task of supporting the faithful in this. For Christians, it is necessary to be rooted in God’s love, which gives them the strength to do what is necessary.
Pallotti Commemoration in Livestream
A group of Unio brothers and sisters met online on the eve of January 22 to celebrate the Transitus. Since the anniversary of Pallotti’s death is traditionally commemorated together in some member communities and Unio groups, Unio brothers and sisters came together from many places in Germany and Austria on Zoom. The online community commemorated the last days and the death of Vincent Pallotti.
After a final impulse, the members of the Unio went into the silence of the evening moved and strengthened: “The Congregation will be blessed by God and will develop; and I tell you this not because I have confidence in it, but because I have certainty about it” (Vincent Pallotti).
Text & Photo: Claudia Schäfer UAC and Stefan Heuel UAC
Pallotti Feast in the House of St. Vincent Pallotti
The community of the Pallottine Fathers in the House of St. Vincent Pallotti, the retirement home of the Hersberg community, celebrated the patronage of the house chapel and the Feast of St. Vincent Pallotti. Together with the residents of the house, the Confreres organized a festive service.
In his homily, Fr Richard Altherr presented the life and work of St. Vincent Pallotti. He especially emphasized Pallotti’s vision of the lay apostolate and linked the ideas of the saint with the synodal efforts of the members of the Synodal Way.
Lunch was also festive on this special day. The evening was spent in the recreation of Hersberg Castle by some of the house members, together with the rest of the Confreres of the community.
The Freising Celebration
About 80 guests filled our church on Sunday. Auxiliary Bishop Dr. Haßlberger introduced the vespers; Deacon Oliver Grießl held the festive sermon and the 20-member youth choir of the St. Georg city parish arranged the vespers under the direction of Mrs. Sutor.
Afterwards, all guests were invited to dinner, including the newly installed city pastor Daniel Reichel, the mayoress Eva Bönig, and all those active in our church services. We received – as so often – very good feedback, also the kitchen was highly praised, which encouraged our new cook, Mr Keller, to further his cooking skills.
Text & Pictures: Fr Dr. Jörg Müller SAC
Pallotti Feast in Berlin
On the eve, “Movimento Pallotti – a handful of life” arranged the 6:00 p.m. eve service and afterwards invited the participants for culinary and spiritual refreshment.
Becoming a witness
During the service, two youth evangelists told about their work. They just had a Germany-wide conference with 70 youth evangelists of the Evangelical Alliance and were partly also with us in St. Christophorus. What was exciting and challenging in the encounter with the “evangelists” was that we Pallottis emphasize the calling of all as “apostles”.
In the evening Unio exchange, the theme was “becoming a witness”. We were inspired by the 12-step program of the self-help groups that meet in our rooms. The 12th step emphasizes that after a liberating life change and spiritual awakening, members give a practical witness of hope to others in their need.
Celebration service – food distribution for the poor – sing & pray – crime scene
In the festive service, on the day itself, two active people prepared a celebration of the Word of God, “lay apostolate” in concrete terms. In our merged parish “Holy Epiphany North Neukölln” with five churches and two priests there are regular celebrations of the Word of God, which are truly a blessing. Afterwards there was a food distribution for the poor through “Pallotti-Mobil – Bedürftige helfen Bedürftigen” (People in Need help People in Need), this time with 76 meals. This Caritas apostolate currently takes place three times a week.
In the evening we met as a Pallottine community to sing and pray in the church and ended the day by watching “Tatort” (a German crime series).
Text & Pictures: Fr Kalle Lenz SAC
Pallotti Celebration in Limburg
“This year everything is different than usual,” Fr Alexander Holzbach, rector and celebrant, greeted the numerous parishioners and visitors from surrounding towns who were present. In Limburg, the Pallottifest was postponed to January 29 because of the new foundation of a large parish, to which the Pallottine parish of St. Mary belongs. It was to be celebrated with a strong musical touch of choir and trumpet sounds, but the church choir of St. Mary had to cancel at short notice because of several corona cases. At short notice, Fr Bernhard Küpper stepped in as cantor, accompanied by Frank Sittel on the organ, he contributed to the worthy musical arrangement.
Many people suffer from a fear of loss
With a view to current crises and wars, but also to the end of the ten independent parishes in Limburg and the surrounding area, Fr Holzbach dealt in his sermon with people’s fears of loss and the bumpy road into the new era. In addition, there is the nervousness in the Church in general, where no one knows how things will go on “and where we wonder about the public repartee between Germany and Rome,” the rector said.
In this situation, he said, Christians can celebrate their faith well and festively with a view to Vincent Pallotti and give thanks for the ideas and example of the saint who once thought and acted with such far-sightedness. Holzbach quoted Archbishop Martin John Spalding of Baltimore, who in the 19th century justified the petition for Pallotti’s beatification with his characteristic qualities: “No vexation and no cross could upset his patience. His all-pervading love for God and for Jesus Christ was the key to his equanimity, the source of his fortitude, and the origin of that inner peace which radiated from his conduct.”
No good climate in society and church
Pallotti did not have an easy time with himself, his people and the Church even then, Holzbach said, “Indifference to the faith and rejection of the Church also existed at that time. But I think the question of God did not exist in that way. That there is a God, that there is an eternity – whatever is after death – people in Rome and all over the world probably assumed that in the 19th century. Today we are in a society and church in which there is much uncertainty, perplexity, even exasperation, and constant agitation. And last but not least, a culture of mutual accusations and suspicions. No good climate.”
Looking to St. Vincent Pallotti in this situation does not take away the difficulties of everyday life. But he may help us not to turn our gaze solely to the annoying, but also to see the good and the opportunities,” the preacher recommended.
Grateful for the ideas and example of Vincent Pallotti
Holzbach: “How nice it would be if some time in the future, someone would write: I often was in St. Mary’s Church in Limburg. The Pallottines there and all the people who celebrate there Sunday after Sunday do not always have it easy, not even with their faith. They are just people of today. But they do not let themselves be upset by any annoyance or cross. They keep their patience with themselves, with others, with young and old, even with those who think differently. Their trust in God is the soul of their actions, the key to their equanimity. And also the source of their bravery when it comes to showing their colors, taking a stand. This trust in God is the source of their inner peace. That’s what they radiate.”
The rector of the mission house concluded by pointing out, “We old Pallottines cannot do much in the active area for the new parish. But for a few more years we can offer Limburg and the surrounding area a beautiful place of worship with an inviting and appealing liturgy, a place of gathering and mission that reminds us again and again that there is God who wants us human beings.”
Bätzing: We are getting smaller
The previous week, Bishop Georg Bätzing, in a vesper before numerous faithful in St. Mary’s Church, had acknowledged the Pallottines as the spiritual home of many people. “Pallottines, the spiritual community ‘The Work’ at the Cathedral, the Nazareth Sisters in the hospital, the communities of other mother tongues: It takes many centers to keep Christ present,” the bishop stressed, adding, “We are getting smaller, but the power of faith and the spark of the Gospel can ignite. All are called to live this apostolate”, he said.
Text & image: Dieter Fluck
Translation: Steffi Wolf