As we know from the Officialia of last March, the General Administration has established the Commission for the Historic Houses and Patrimony of the Congregation, requested by the last General Chapter (Decisions n. 51 and 52). Johannes Römelt (Coordinator of the Conference of Redemptorists of Europe), and composed of Fathers Pedro López Calvo (General Consultor), Vicente Soria Fleitas, (General Bursar), Serafino Fiore (Province of Naples), Gennaro Sorrentino (Naples), Janusz Sok (Warsaw) and Martin Leitgöb, (Vienna-Munich), has met online twice so far.
This was enough to get into the rather complex and demanding subject matter. Distinctions have begun to be made, for example, between houses of the first foundation and directly linked to St Alphonsus (all three in the Province of Naples: Ciorani, Pagani and Materdomini) and houses of historical significance, dating from the first consolidation of the Congregation outside the Kingdom of Naples (e.g. Sant’Angelo a Cupolo, Scudetto, Sant’Angelo a Cupolo and Sant’Angelo a Materdomini). Sant’Angelo a Cupolo, Scifelli, Frosinone, St Benno in Warsaw, Santa Maria am Gestade in Vienna, etc.), and others important for our history (e.g. the birthplace of St. Alphonsus in Marianella, Bischenberg in France, etc.).
This number of important places deserves to be listed and documented, and maintained, at least from an emotional point of view. They are the “property” of the Congregation that helps us better understand our history, understand more about the zeal and missionary strategy that inspired our saints, etc.
Another distinction that has become increasingly clear is the diversity of interventions required to maintain these houses and churches. Some of these buildings are in a worrying condition and represent real emergencies, for which the economic resources of the individual Provinces are not enough. The entire Congregation needs to be involved: this was the spirit, above all, of decision 52 of the General Chapter. And we need to define the “mission” that justifies the maintenance of these houses today.
Nor should an important point be forgotten, to be added to that of the buildings: it concerns the multiple and precious artistic patrimony of various kinds (pictorial, liturgical etc.), directly linked to the life of the Founder or the origins of the Congregation, always of affective and documentary value, and in some cases also of qualitative value.
To assess the importance that Redemptorists attach to all this, the Commission wishes to consult the entire Congregation. In the first place, the confreres and lay people who have been able to visit one or more of these places are consulted over the years. We are thinking, for example, of the many who in past years (until the Coronavirus closed the frontiers) participated in Redemptorist spirituality courses. We have two questions for all of them:
- What places or exhibitions have you been able to visit?
- What memories do you have of this experience? How did it help you better understand your identity as a Redemptorist, consecrated or lay person?
We ask you to send your response to the President of the Commission, Fr. Johannes Romelt firstname.lastname@example.org, by 30 June. We thank you in advance.
Fr. Serafino Fiore, C.Ss.R.