Mother of Perpetual Help, Icon of Love
We are beginning our journey toward the solemn celebration of the 150thanniversary of the handing over to the Redemptorists by Pope Pius IX the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual help. The Redemptorist Province of Campo Grande, together with the sub-Conference of the Redemptorist Union of Brazil (URB) and the Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean, took the initiative of holding an International Congress concerning this Icon so well loved and so popular worldwide.
The coordination of the Congress was assumed by the Provincial Superior of the Province of Camp Grande, Father Joaquim Parron and by the confreres of his Province in the person of Father Dirson Gonçalves, Rector of the Shrine of Perpetual Help in Campo Grande, and by his team ofconfreres and lay people. Campo Grande, a city located in the central western part of Brazil, the gate to the famous Wetlands of Mato Grosso, welcomed us so very well.
The presence of confreres from all the Redemptorist Conferences, together with many laity who are Redemptorist missionaries, was admirable. Their presence demonstrates the Redemptorist love for Our Mother of Perpetual Help and the interest of all in promoting a special time of grace during the period of this upcoming Anniversary. There were 102 participants, coming from 28 countries, with representatives of 5 Conferences. In this initiative, fully supported by the General Government, we were very pleased to have among us the Superior General, Father Michael Brehl, who presided at the opening of the Congress, and the Vicar General, Fr. Enrique López, as well as the Coordinator of the Conference of Latin American and the Caribbean, Father Manny Rodrigues, who helped in all the activities. Also presentwith us was Father Ben Ma, the Coordinator of the Conference of Asia and Oceania. The participants express their gratitude to the Redemptorist Province of Campo Grande for the initiative and organization of the Congress, and to their respective Provinces for allowing them to participate in this event.
The assembly proceeded with the sharing of experiences, especially in relation to the novenas of Perpetual Help, reflection about the Icon and its message and proposals for activities of evangelization which may help to deepen and to renew the commend by Pope Pius IX and taken up by the Redemptorists 150 years ago to make her known throughout the world.
It was wonderful to hear what is being done in various parts of the world, through the representatives present at the Congress; and also to have the opportunity to participate in the Novena of Perpetual Help celebrated with all so many devotees in the Church. This Novena, an example of popular piety expressed with such devotion and joy, proved to be an incentive to our own devotion.
We sought to contemplate the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help at its very origins flowing from the Byzantine, Oriental tradition, to reflect on its Mariology, to meditate on the spiritual, pastoral and missionary message that springs forth from this Icon, to discuss the dimension of Popular piety and liturgy in regard to the Icon, in view of renewing our zeal for Evangelization.
This first international event leads us explicitly to the proposed motto for celebrating the 150th anniversary: “Mother of Perpetual Socorro, Icon of love!” The whole history of the devotees over the course of these 150 years together with the personal, communitarian and pastoral dedicationof generations of confreres that propagated this devotion, has been a profound and constant experience of the maternal love of Mary, who accompanies us with her serene and attentive gaze, ready to offer us the help that she brings in her arms, Jesus, our Most Holy Redeemer.
This congress enkindled in our hearts a deeper love for our beloved Mother of Perpetual Help. We leave from this place with a commitment to be involved with joy in the celebration of this 150th anniversary. We would like to invite every confrere, every entity and every conference to assume with us and with creativity a new command of making her known and loved throughout the world as the Icon of Love, a live and vivid expression of Plentiful Redemption.