Pope Hails Founder of Community of St. John

Dominican Father Philippe Marks 70 Years as a Priest

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ARS, France, JULY 4, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The founder of the Community of St. John was able to preside at a Mass of thanksgiving for 70 years of priesthood.



During the celebration Friday for Dominican Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, a message from Benedict XVI was read. In it, the Pope united himself to the religious' "thanksgiving" and prayed that "God may make fruitful the work given to him to accomplish in his priestly faithfulness to the call of Christ."

The Holy Father ended the message with the desire that Father Philippe "might continue his priestly life in the peace and joy of one who has left everything for the Kingdom."

On the following day, Father Jean-Pierre-Marie, prior general of the Community of St. John, warmly welcomed Cardinal Franc Rodé, for the ordination of 14 priests and eight deacons.

Cardinal Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, addressed the ordinands in his homily.

"Your spirituality," he said, "is that of St. John -- you put all your priestly and religious life under his protection in order to live according to his grace and to accomplish the missionary work entrusted to the Church by Jesus today.

"Your love for St. John leads naturally to Mary, whom you venerate as your Mother and Protector. Your founder, the 'dear Father Philippe' -- as Pope Benedict XVI called him last February -- never ceases to introduce you into the mystery of Mary. She is the model of consecrated life and the Mother of the priesthood."

Consecration to Mary

Cardinal Rodé underlined the fruitfulness of the consecration that the first brothers of the community made to Mary on Dec. 8, 1975.

"From the beginning, the community has consecrated itself to Mary by the beautiful prayer of St. Louis de Montfort, in order to live a life totally given to Jesus, a life of adoration and study, a life fraternal and poor and lived in religious obedience," the cardinal said. "It is from this that your family is born, family of brothers and sisters, family both apostolic and contemplative, may it grow and spread throughout the world to bear witness to the Gospel of our Lord in the footsteps of St. John the Theologian."

At the end of the ceremony, Father Philippe addressed his thanks to Cardinal Rodé for coming and in return the cardinal thanked him "for what he had done for the Church, for from his heart totally given to the Lord, and his intelligence open to the truth and to the Holy Spirit, a new community is born in the Church. In its vigor, its youth and its freshness it carries the word of the Gospel to the world. Father Philippe, the Church is profoundly thankful for what she owes you, and she owes you a lot!"

Last Feb. 15, Benedict XVI received members of the ecclesial community, celebrating its 30th anniversary, in St. Peter's Basilica.

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, in France, where their motherhouse is located.