On 15 December 2023, in the Basilica of St Alphonsus in Pagani, near the remains of our Founder, the Neapolitan Redemptorist Province raised its Te Deum of thanksgiving for the mission carried out starting from 2 July 1841, when Gregory XVI with the decree Presbiterorum Saecularium Congregationem divided the Congregation into six Provinces: three in Italy (Roman, Neapolitan, Sicilian) and three beyond the Alps (Austrian, Belgian, Swiss).
We had to wait a few more years – due to the political vicissitudes that marked history in Italy – for the Redemptorists in Southern Italy to have the necessary freedom and autonomy of action, but we know that history is also made up of symbols, and the start date of 1841 can be counted among them.
The fact remains that in just over a month, i.e. from 25 January 2024, the Neapolitan Province will join those of Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, and France, to compose a single new Province, that of Southern Europe. The new Provincial Superior, Fr. Gennaro Sorrentino will take office that day, and together with his Council he will help confreres and communities to look at the Redemptorist mission with a new gaze, in the face of the challenges that evangelization entails in the 21st century.
In the meantime, a feeling of gratitude animates the hearts of the Redemptorists in Southern Italy, and with them the numerous lay people who in various capacities participate in their mission: at the level of friendship, it is esteemed, of collaboration, of active and generous commitment.
That feeling was expressed precisely on December 15th: a simple program was experienced with intensity and emotion by those present. An introduction offered by the Provincial Superior in office, Fr. Serafino Fiore helped those present to understand what the reconfiguration is asking of the Congregation today, and within it of the Neapolitan Province. The CRE Coordinator Fr. Johannes Römelt, recalled the path recently taken by the Redemptorists to put the structures at the service of the mission. This was followed by a historical report proposed by Professor Giovanni Pepe, who first reviewed the “background” to the creation of the Province, and then the main stages of its journey. This first part was enriched by the piano performance of three pieces of classical music by Maestro Davide Cesarano.
It all concluded with the Eucharistic celebration, during which two couples of lay people committed themselves as Redemptorist Associates. And then a beautiful and tasty cake, complete with sparkling wine, marked a moment of historical importance with the notes of celebration and friendship.
The Redemptorist mission continues! The names change, the structures change, the charm of announcing the Copiosa Redemptio even to this world continues, and calls each of us to further generosity, zeal, and missionary creativity.
Fr. Serafino Fiore CSsR