125 years of Redemptorist presence in San Gioacchino, Rome

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A solemn Eucharistic celebration on Sunday, October 1 at 10:30 a.m. and an outdoor dinner on Saturday, September 30, as well as street games, table tennis, chess and tournaments, workshops for children, shows and classes. dance, lottery, and fireworks are the events scheduled for the patron saint’s day that the parish of San Gioacchino in Prati will celebrate again after the break imposed in 2020 due to the pandemic. The Redemptorist community to which the parish has been entrusted since its foundation in 1905 will also celebrate its 125 years of presence in San Gioacchino, starting with the opening of the church for worship in 1898, in the time of Leo XIII.

“My predecessors” – recalls Father Piotr Sulkowski, Polish, parish priest since 2016 – “had already offered the community this opportunity for mutual understanding and aggregation, choosing the first weekend of October also to begin the new year of pastoral activities, after the summer vacation.” The feast of Saint Joachim, Anna’s husband, and Jesus’ maternal grandfather, actually falls on July 26, during a festive period in which it would be impossible to organize an event of this type. But the triduum of preparation for the celebration says Father Sulkowski, “will reflect each day on one of the three messages published so far by Francis for the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly instituted by him,” which falls into the fourth Sunday of July. The solemn mass is on October 1 at 10.

As for the community dinner on Saturday, “it has always been one of the best moments of the party, with some musical entertainment and fireworks late at night. We want to do it on the street, open to the entire neighbourhood, precisely so as not to lock ourselves in the catechism classrooms, but so that everyone can participate. “We will have at our disposal the section of Via Pompeo Magno between Piazza of Quiriti and the intersection with Via Ezio, which will be closed to traffic for two days,” comments Father Pietro, as parishioners call him. The novelty of the program is the workshops for children. “The program is simple, but the important thing is to have the opportunity to be together, get to know each other, chat and grow as a community.”

The Prati neighbourhood greatly needs moments like these, adds the parish priest, because “many apartments in the area are used as offices or bed & breakfasts. Or they are very expensive, and this has alienated many families. In 1950 San Gioacchino had ten thousand inhabitants, which today is less than three thousand.” That is why “we need initiatives that convey a feeling of belonging to a community. Also, because many mass attendees and many catechism children do not live in this area. And we need to be more of a community also because there are few young people that we see in the parish.”

In the meantime, however, “thank God I can say that perhaps for the first time the weight of the organization falls entirely or almost entirely on the shoulders of the family group and some other parishioners,” repeats Father Pietro, “and it is nice to start again like that.”

The festival will also be an opportunity to take guided tours of the church, famous for having hidden for months, during the last war and the Nazi occupation of Rome, a group of Jews and other persecuted people in a narrow space under the dome. “As is the most frequent request, I believe that this space will be open to visitors, yes,” anticipates Father Sulkowski; “But the whole Church,” he adds, “is rich in history; For example, each side chapel tells the religious history of the town that led to its construction; and there are almost 200 saints represented.”

Another reason why the parish is known in Rome is the weekday mass at an unusual time, 1 p.m., lunchtime for the lawyers of the numerous law firms in the area, given the presence of several courts; “We celebrated it nine years ago at the request of some of them,” says Father Pietro, “we started for a month as a trial and we are still here!” And since the founder of the Redemptorists, the Neapolitan Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787), is also the patron saint of lawyers, having practised law in his youth before becoming a priest, well, “it would be nice,” It is a wish of the parish priest that perhaps one day will come true, “to start something in the future, like perhaps a catechism course, dedicated specifically to them.”

September 25, 2023 – diocesidiroma.it