The Redemptorist Superior General is optimistic about the situation of the Congregation

Vicar General Fr Francois Stanula, Superior General Fr Rogerio Gomes and Provincial Fr Martin Leitgöb (from left) described the situation of the Redemptorists in a press conference. (c) ÖOK/tb

The Brazilian origin Fr. Gomes, born in 1974, was elected to the office of Superior General of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in September 2022 and has since headed around 4,500 Redemptorists around the world. One tradition stipulates that the Superior General and the Vicar General of the order came to Vienna for the St. Clement Festival at the beginning of their term of office. Therefore, for the first time in his term of office, he is visiting one of the most important places of work of St. Clement and his grave in the church of Maria am Gestade.

 In addition to church services and exchanges with the Viennese Redemptorists, the Superior General also took time to describe the Redemptorists’ situation in a press conference. The Congregation in Europe is in a process of restructuring in a phase of increasing secularization and a decline in vocations.

 The Congregation is still alive

“If you look at the situation, some say it is a pessimistic reality. But I don’t see them pessimistically,” said Father Rogerio Gomes. The work of the over 1,000 Redemptorists is still important, and there is a lot to do. The Congregation is, therefore, still alive in Europe.

The situation is similar in North America. The conference in South America and the Caribbean is also affected by increasing secularization, but is currently the conference with the largest number of members. The Redemptorists are emerging in Asia and Oceania. In Vietnam and Indonesia in particular, vocations are increasing sharply; in Indonesia, there are currently as many as 26 novices. There are also many vocations in Africa and Madagascar, but it is difficult to maintain them there – also due to the difficult economic situation.

Joy in calling gives hope

Fr Rogerio Gomes gives hope to the joy of his confreres – including the old and infirm – in their vocation. “We have very creative young people who bring their new language to proclaim the Gospel,” he explained, mentioning, for example, social media. After all, the main charism of the order is to proclaim the Gospel. To do this, it is necessary to place the constitutions in today’s context. He also emphasized: “It is important to improve our community life and our spiritual life. This has a direct impact on our mission.”

Father Rogerio Gomes has been Superior General of the Redemptorists since September 2022. (c) OOK/tb

It is, therefore, the wrong attitude to see no future for the Redemptorists in Europe and the USA. “We have to do what we have to do with all our strength. If we don’t achieve the goal, at least we are trying. It would be very sad if the community disappeared because we have closed ourselves to the spirit,” said Father Rogerio Gomes.

On the eve of the festival, on March 14, 2024, he celebrated a celebratory service in the St. Mary’s Church in Vienna-Hernals. On the actual day of remembrance, Father Francois Stanula led a service in the morning at the Clementine altar in Maria am Gestade. The central celebratory mass took place there at 6 p.m. with the Provincial of the Redemptorists Vienna-Munich, Fr. Martin Leitgöb, at which Fr. Rogerio Gomes preached the homily.

Klemens Maria Hofbauer

Hofbauer was born Johannes Hofbauer in 1751 in Tasswitz (Tasovice) near Znaim (Znojmo) in South Moravia and learned the bakery trade in Znaim. He later worked as a baker in Vienna and studied theology. He then left Austria and entered the Redemptorist Order in Rome in 1783.

As a priest he was sent to Austria, where it was not possible to found a monastery during the time of Josephine’s abolition of monasteries. He therefore moved on to Warsaw. A lively pastoral care developed by 1808; the religious also founded homes and schools for poor and orphaned children. Lay associations supported them in this.

In 1808, the Redemptorists were expelled from Poland on Napoleon’s orders, and Hofbauer returned to Vienna. First he worked as an assistant pastor in the Minorite Church, then he developed his distinctive pastoral work as rector of the monastery church of St. Ursula. He was a confessor and spiritual director of students, nobles and ordinary people and personally provided material assistance to people in need.

The Congregation was approved in Austria in 1820

In 1820, the year of his death, the Redemptorist religious community was admitted to Austria. The Vienna monastery “Maria am Gestade” became the starting point for the worldwide spread of the religious community. In 1909, Hofbauer was canonized by Pope Pius X in Rome. On January 14, 1914, Hofbauer was made the patron saint of Vienna.

The center of Clement devotion is the Maria am Gestade church in downtown Vienna. Since 2014, there has also been a Klemensmuseum in Maria am Gestade, in which the life and work of Klemens Hofbauer are presented using original objects and display boards.

The Redemptorists today

Today, with more than 4,500 members worldwide, the Redemptorists are one of the medium-sized male religious orders of the Catholic Church and are represented in over 80 countries. The congregation was founded in 1732 by Saint Alphonsus Maria of Liguori in what was then the Kingdom of Naples. The religious community sees missionary pastoral work as its basic task, but it also carries out numerous tasks in ordinary and extraordinary pastoral care.

Source: ÖOK, kathpress

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