Cardinal Joseph Tobin shared his experience as a Redemptorist missionary with the faithful he serves in the Archdiocese of Newark. In his address, the Cardinal recounted his lifelong history with the Congregation and recalled the counsel Pope Francis gave to the Redemptorists at the 26th General Chapter (October 1, 2022):
I encourage you to dare, having the Gospel and the Magisterium of the Church as the only boundary. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty in the service of the most needy and people who count nothing.
As a missionary, but also as a bishop, I am called to roll up my sleeves and get to work spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ by my words, certainly, but most importantly by my example. Our Holy Father never tires of reminding all of us who are baptized Christians that we are missionary disciples who should never hesitate to “take new paths and to dialogue with the world” while always keeping our eyes on Jesus “, who emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant.” What’s true for every missionary disciple is especially true for those of us who are Redemptorists schooled in the spirituality of our founder, St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori, a spiritual writer, composer, musician, artist, poet, lawyer, scholastic philosopher, theologian and bishop.
In his address to the members of our Congregation, Pope Francis challenged us to be faithful to the charisms (gifts) we have received from our founder:
The testimony and teachings of St. Alphonsus continually remind you to ‘remain in the love’ of the Lord. Without Him, we can do nothing; remaining in Him, we bear fruit (cf. Jn 15: 1-9). Abandoning community life and prayer is the door to sterility in consecrated life, the death of the charism and closure towards the brothers. Instead, docility to the Spirit of Christ pushes us to evangelize the poor, according to the announcement of the Redeemer in the synagogue of Nazareth, concretized in the Congregation by Saint Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori.
I hope that all of us who have been called to serve as Christ’s ambassadors – to those who already believe in Him and to those who have not yet been introduced to His love and mercy – can come to know, love and serve Him, especially in the poor and marginalized members of our society. With Pope Francis, I pray that all of us may be faithful and persevering in our mission, “never forgetting the poorest and the most neglected” we serve and to whom we announce the Good News of our Redemption.