As Interprovincial Student of the Conference of Europe in Rome, we started the academic year with a week of preparation from 21 to 27 September 2020.
Our Student is led by Fr. Jacek Zdrzalek (Warsaw) and Fr. Pietro Nguyên Anh Kiet (Vietnam) and consists of 5 students: Fabrizio Podda and Gianluigi Colucci (Rome), Giuseppe Pham Dinh Cuong and Paolo Hồ Văn Nam (Vietnam), Sérgio Miguel Magalhaes Silva (Lisbon). To these was added a candidate for the postulancy for the Roman Province: Massimo Greco.
The first three days were devoted to a general knowledge of the Congregation, its spirituality, and its mission.
We lived a moment of formation on the Redemptorist charism, the origins of our Congregation, and the current situation of the Institute in the world prepared by the students and the Prefect.
We then went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, where, before the original Icon, we prayed the Perpetual Novena and celebrated the Eucharist. Fr. Giovanni Congiu, Rector of the Shrine, presided over the celebration and illustrated in his homily the role of the Redemptorist vocation: the vocation of healers because healed by the mercy of God, as it clearly appears in the life of the Apostle Matthew whose Feast was celebrated.
P. Pietro Sulkowski, Superior and Pastor of St. Joachim, gave a lecture on the history and activity of our Church of St. Joachim and on the role of Redemptorists called to continue the apostolate of confessions and perpetual Eucharistic adoration, promoting devotion to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.
The Provincial Superior, Fr. Antonio Cirulli, held a meeting on Redemptorist life: the life of consecration to Christ, of redemption, of humanization, of conversion, of the mission, of community.
P. Vincenzo La Mendola, of the Redemptorist Historical Institute, explained the history of the Province of Rome: called from the beginning to be of wide international scope and which has been the springboard of the Congregation towards Europe and the world.
The following days were dedicated to the pilgrimage to the Alphonsian places: in three days, we could breathe the same air that they breathed. Alfonso and our first confreres. Starting from Marianella, the birthplace of St. Alphonsus, we visited the Cathedral of Naples, where St. Alphonsus was ordained priest, St. Alphonsus’s family palace, and the parish church where he was baptized.
An important moment was the visit to Scala, the cradle of the Congregation, where St. Alphonsus founded the Congregation in 1732: the grotto where he prayed and received visits from the Virgin, the Cathedral where he preached the novena to the Holy Crucifix, the Monastery where he met Maria Celeste Crostarosa.
Then it was the turn of Ciorani, the “Mother House.” We visited the church built by the first fathers and wanted by St. Alphonsus, the room where St. Alphonsus lived for 15 years, the place where the first General Chapter was celebrated, and where St. Alphonsus was elected Rector Major and made his religious profession together with his companions. We also prayed at the tomb of Blessed Gennaro M. Sarnelli.
To conclude, we visited Pagani, where we celebrated the Eucharist at the tomb of St. Alphonsus and visited the rooms where he died. On the way back to Rome, we visited the Monastery of the Redemptorists in Sant’Agata de’Goti and the Cathedral and the Episcope, where St. Alphonsus lived as a bishop.
On Sunday, September 27th, we served in our Shrine of Our Lady of Grace in Frosinone, where the feast of St. Gerard was celebrated with great warmth by many people.
On Monday 28th, the Interprovincial Student of the C.R.E. was inaugurated with a solemn Eucharistic celebration, together with the Postulantate of the Province of Rome.
P. Johannes Römelt, Coordinator of the Conference of Europe, presided at Mass and, drawing inspiration from the readings and the figure of Blessed Gaspare Stangassinger, invited to become “little ones” to take care of the “little ones,” those whom Alfonso called “abandoned”.
Antonio Cirulli (Provincial of Rome), Pedro Lopez (General Councillor), Piotr Chyla (Councillor of the CRE), Pietro Sulkowski (Superior of St. Joachim), and Jacek Zdrzalek (Prefect of the CRE Student College).
Gianluigi Colucci C.Ss.R.