Pope Visits Missionaries of the Divine Word
Takes Trip Down Memory Lane to Recollections of Vatican II
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ROME, JULY 9, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today made a private visit to the "Ad Gentes Centre" of the Missionaries of the Divine Word, located in the village of Nemi, close to his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.
As the Vatican Information Service explained it was in that building, then called the International Centre of the Society of the Divine Word, that the Vatican Council II Commission on Missions met from 29 March to 3 April 1965.
Among the participants was a young theologian and expert of the conciliar assembly, Joseph Ratzinger.
Since January 2010 it has taken the name of the "Ad Gentes Centre"
The Holy Father was welcomed on his arrival at Nemi by Fr. Heinz Kuluke, superior general elect; Fr. Antonio Pernia superior general, and Fr. Giancarlo Girardi, procurator general. He then went to the chapel to meet with the 150 participants in the general chapter of the order and the community of the Mother House in Rome.
A Vatican Radio report described the visit as a “very personal trip down memory lane” as he returned to the house overlooking Lake Nemi, the setting of his fondest and “most memorable” recollections of the Second Vatican Council.
In a short unscripted speech he described as how in 1965 as a “a very young theologian of no great importance,” to his eternal wonder he was invited by the then Superior General of the world-wide order and Council Father, Johannes Schütte, to take part in an “important and beautiful task, to prepare a decree on mission.”
“His arrival was electric”, said Fr. Pat Byrne SVD, provincial superior for Great Britain and Ireland said. “The very first thing he did was kneel before the altar and the Blessed Sacrament and we joined him in silent prayer.”
“I am truly grateful for this opportunity to see this house in Nemi once again, after 47 years,” Pope Benedict said.
“I have fond memories of it, perhaps the most memorable of the whole Council. I lived in the center of Rome, in the Collegio dell’Anima with all the noise. This too was nice, but staying here, surrounded by this greenery, having this breath of nature, this fresh air, was in itself a beautiful thing. And then, in the company of many great theologians and a such an important and beautiful task, to prepare a decree on mission.”
“First of all, I remember, the General of that time, Father Schütte, who had suffered in China, had been convicted, then expelled: he was full of missionary zeal, the need to give new impetus to the missionary spirit and had invited me - a very young theologian of no great importance – I do not know why, but it was a great gift for me. Then there was Fulton Sheen who would fascinate us in the evenings with his talks.”
“Thus, these days gave birth to a good and beautiful decree, almost unanimously accepted by all the Fathers of the Council and which, for me, was also a very good complement to Lumen Gentium, from which we find a Trinitarian ecclesiology, that starts above all from the classical idea that bonum diffusivum sivi sui, good has the inherent need to communicate, to give of itself, it cannot remain self contained, the good thing, goodness itself is essentially communication,” the Pope continued.
“So, with these memories I have often thought of those days of Nemi that, as I said, are an essential part of the Council for me,” he added.
“And I'm happy to see that your Society flourishes – the Father General spoke of 6,000 members in many countries, from many nations. Clearly the missionary dynamic is alive, and it lives only if there is the joy of the Gospel, if we experience the good that comes from God and that must and wants to communicate itself.”
“Thank you for this dynamism. I wish you every blessing of the Lord for this Chapter, and a lot of inspiration: that the same forces inspiring power of the Holy Spirit that almost visibly accompanied us during those days may once again be present among you and help you find your path both for your Society and for the mission Ad gentes of the Gospel for the coming years,” the Pope concluded.