Community of St. John Gets Papal Advice

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 15, 2006 ( Benedict XVI urged the Community of St. John to \"undertake ever more profound discernment of vocations\" as he met with 1,800 members of the religious family.

Members of the ecclesial community, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, were welcomed by the Pope today in St. Peter\'s Basilica. They were accompanied by their priors general and Dominican Father Marie-Dominique Philippe.

\"May your pilgrimage be a time of renewal,\" said the Holy Father, \"confirming what has been lived to draw teachings and to undertake ever more profound discernment of vocations that present themselves and of missions to which you are called, in trusting collaboration with the pastors of local Churches.\"

The Community of St. John comprises 930 men (half of whom are priests or deacons) and active and contemplative women religious, as well as more than 3,000 lay oblates of more than 34 nationalities. It is present in 21 countries.

The Brothers of St. John are recognized as a religious congregation, under the bishop of the Autun Diocese, where their motherhouse is located.

The community arose in 1976 when five students of the University of Fribourg, in Switzerland, decided to establish a community around Father Philippe, then a professor.