The 3rd worldwide meeting of the Missionaries of Mercy with Pope Francis took place from 23 to 25 April 2022. The theme of the meeting was “Missionary of Mercy: a sign of welcome”. Among the approximately 400 participants of the meeting were 9 Redemptorist Missionaries of Mercy from Italy, Slovakia, Great Britain, Albania and Poland.
The first day of the meeting began with prayer. Then, divided into small groups, participants shared their ministry experience since the previous meeting, which took place in 2018. It was a time to listen to each other and get to know missionary brothers from different parts of the world. Afterwards, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, presented the profile of the missionary of mercy as a person open to welcoming his neighbour. In his speech, he stressed that a sign of mercy is the ability to welcome another person, following the example of the Good Shepherd. Being a missionary of mercy means having a heart like that of Jesus and the ability to look at others as Jesus looked at each person.
In the afternoon, the missionaries went in procession to the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova). It was a time of encounter with the merciful Lord through personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance. The place for this prayer was not accidental because in this church is located the tomb of St. Philip Neri.
The central event of the meeting of the Missionaries of Mercy was the celebration of the Eucharist in St Peter’s Basilica on Divine Mercy Sunday, 24 April 2022. The Eucharist was presided over by Archbishop Rino Fisichella. The homily was delivered by Pope Francis. In it, the Holy Father stressed that Jesus, who comes to the fearful disciples and shows them His wounds, makes a great gesture of mercy. The first gift of mercy is peace. He thus sends them out to be witnesses and proclaimers of mercy.
The last day of the meeting, Monday 25 April, began with a common prayer in the Paul VI Hall. Then Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa gave a conference on the theme “The Missionary of Mercy and the Call to Holiness”. He based his teaching on the example of St Paul’s experience of God’s mercy. He showed that to be a saint is to live as a person justified by God through forgiveness and reconciliation. Anyone who has experienced such God’s justice or mercy is not able to remain silent but wants to share with others. This is where a vocation to evangelisation and a style of righteous, just living are born. This is a balancing act also for the missionary of mercy.
Another topic of the morning’s teaching concerned the distinction between the external and internal forum in the ministry of confessor and spiritual director. It was presented by Fr Damian Gulielmo Astigueta, a Jesuit and professor of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
The climax of the day was the meeting with Pope Francis. In his message to the missionaries of mercy, he presented the figure of the biblical woman Ruth. He showed her as an example of faithfulness and generosity. Her attitude towards her mother-in-law Noemi is a testimony of compassion and care and of overcoming all forms of exclusion. The Holy Father stressed that God never abandons those who entrust themselves to Him. He said that missionaries of mercy should show the face of God’s mercy through their presence, proximity, compassion, and sharing God’s forgiveness with the people to whom they are sent.
The Pope also stressed that the ministry of the missionary of mercy had found its place in the new Apostolic Constitution on the reform of the Roman Curia because of the importanace of unconditional forgiveness and mercy that Jesus bestows on every person.
There are more than 1000 missionaries of mercy throughout the world. The meeting in Rome was attended by 400 missionaries from all over the world. Among them were 9 Redemptorists from Italy, Slovakia, Great Britain, Albania and Poland.
Fr. Paweł Drobot, C.Ss.R.