(Madrid) The International European Congress on the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was inaugurated on 3 May at 7 p.m. in Madrid. The Congress is organized by the Conference of Redemptorists of Europe to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the handing over of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help to the Redemptorist Missionaries until 7th of May.
Fr. Michael Brehl, Superior General, presided at the Eucharist with which the Congress was inaugurated, accompanied by Fr. Jacek Z, Coordinator of the Conference of Europe, Fr José Luis Bartolomé, Provincial Superior of Madrid, Fr Pedro López, General Consultant of Europe, Fr Jesús Hidalgo, Rector of the Sanctuary of the Perpetual Help of Madrid, and by the 90 participants present at this event.
In his homily Fr. General invited us to be Icons, in the style of Mary, a doorway for communion with God through the Redeemer. In this sense, he urged us to see in Mary, “not only a young woman invited to the mystery without fully understanding all that this would imply, … but the experience of all those who today are searching for meaning and who are confused in a society that seems to be changing faster than we can understand. Youth and young adults who look for direction and seem lost, parents and families struggling to understand each other, our older brothers and sisters who often feel discarded and abandoned and do not understand why. “
He went on to recall that “in this Icon, we see Mary of Nazareth, a woman on the margins of the society of her times. She is from a small, unknown village on the periphery of her nation. She sees her Son rejected by her own people in the name of patriotism and nationalism. He is betrayed by foreign military power. In a time of growing nationalism, Mary comes from “Galilee of the Nations” (Isaiah 9, 1, Matthew 4, 12-15), a prophetic title that points to the solidarity of humanity beyond the rigid limits of race, Ethnicity, religion and culture. In this Icon, can we see Mary pointing us beyond the growing “nationalist” movements that today build walls and not bridges in Europe, where “patriotism” becomes a politically correct term for social exclusion? In this Icon, we see Mary of Nazareth, a woman.”
Fr. General invited us to see “in this Icon, a mother forced to flee her home to protect her son from violent death. Mary becomes a refugee and immigrant. She seeks security in Egypt, the place of slavery and trafficking of people. Can we see that the icon is calling for solidarity and care for the hundreds of thousands and millions of refugees and migrants today? Their experience points to the evil and horror of trafficking in persons, especially women and children. “
At the end of the Eucharist, the three leaders of the meeting, the Frs. Marek Kotynski, Seamus Enright and Jorge Ambel presented the program of these days and invited everyone for a meaningful participation and also to enjoy the Congress.
Pedro López, CSsR