ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
Wednesday, 6 July 2001
Dear Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth,
1. I cordially greet you on the occasion of this meeting which takes place during the 21st General Chapter of your Congregation. I extend a special greeting to your Mother General, Sr Maria Teresa Jasionowicz.
You represent your eight religious provinces that embrace 15 countries, where you carry out your apostolic activity. You have come to Rome, to the Motherhouse and to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, to reflect with a sense of responsibility on the actual situation of the Congregation and to prepare the future. In this perspective, you intend to adapt your Constitutions and elect a new General Government.
Today's world carries with it many threats. Such is the experience of men and women, married couples, young people, children.... The most threatened, however, seems to be the family! We must not lose heart. The more numerous the dangers are, the greater is our need for faith, hope and charity with prayer and the witness of a Christian life. Your Congregation wants to offer an evangelical response to the restlessness of contemporary man. I rejoice to know that during your chapter work you plan to reread your religious charism in the optic of the new evangelization.
3. Your Foundress, Bl. Franciszka Siedliska, Maria of Jesus the Good Shepherd, whom I proclaimed Blessed on 23 April 1989, gave your community, as a model of life, the life of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Rightly I invite you to form yourselves after the example of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. She loved to characterize the Incarnation of the Son of God and the hidden life of Jesus in the mystery of the Holy Family as the kingdom of divine Love.
4. The theme of the work of your General Chapter is: The law of love as the call to the total gift of self to God. For many years you have been seeking to correspond to this call through your apostolate, in which you strive to coooperate with Christ and with his Church. Bear witness to the law of love in your communities and especially in service to families who need spiritual and material help, in consultation and in pastoral family care, in zealous service to the sick, to the handicapped, in parish work, in schools, in educational centres, in homes for single mothers, among the homeless, children and people who are lost and unwanted.
5. In the apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte I addressed this exhortation to all the faithful: Duc in altum - put out into the deep! Today with these words I invite your community "to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever'" (cf. n. 1). In the spirit of this exhortation, I pray to God that the grace of your religious vocation will bear abundant spiritual fruits.
I impart a heartfelt Apostolic Benediction to the Superior General, to the participants in the Chapter and to the whole community of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.