Italy: Ending of the 250th year anniversary of the presence of the Redemptorists in Scifelli

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The closing ceremony of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Redemptorists in Scifella began on 28th April with a procession led by the parish priest, Fr. Habib Badran CSsR. The statue of St Alphonsus de Liguori, founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, was solemnly carried through the streets of the town. In the square in front of the church of the Blessed Mary Virgin of Good Counsel, the procession ended with prayers and an occasional greeting from the parish priest. 

“Remembering the past, we were able to discover the hand of God who, with the strength of the Spirit, always accompanied and guided this particular church, the Redemptorists and you, dear citizens of Scifelli” – declared Fr. Francois Stanula CSsR, vicar general, at the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration in the parish church in Scifelli. 

Below, Fr. Francois Stanula, vicar general, presided over the Mass and gave the homily. He said that the Jubilee celebration is an opportunity to recall the history written by the Redemptorists and the people of this beautiful region. It is a richness that must remain open to the newness of the Gospel and to the suggestions of the Holy Spirit. Addressing the confreres and parishioners in the church, he said: “We must welcome the memory of the past with gratitude and recognition, but to look to the future with hope and trust! Now it is our turn to carry forward the legacy of faith to our contemporaries.”

Among the concelebrants were Fr. Nicolas Ayouba CSsR, general consultor; Fr. Gianni Congiu, superior of the community of St. Alphonsus in Rome; Fr. Antonio Cirulli, former Roman provincial, and the fathers from the Redemptorist community of Frosinone. Also present was the mayor of the municipality of Veroli, Mr. Simone Cretaro. 

After the celebration, the whole community gathered in the parish hall, where the celebrations for the closing of the jubilee of 250 years since the presence of the Redemptorists in Scifelli joyfully concluded.

The Redemptorist Foundation in Scifelli began in 1773 when Jean Louis Arnaud, a French priest, signed the deed of donation of the small house and church to the missionaries. Thus, the Redemptorist family was able to start its mission in this region of Italy. Many brothers were engaged in preaching and mission, trying to make people know Jesus so as to lead many to love him more and more. In history, Scifelli College was also the house of education.

The Redemptorist house of Scifelli is a sign of the missionary dynamism of the Redemptorists. In the first phase of the history of the Congregation, the houses were founded in the Kingdom of Naples. However, Saint Alphonsus was convinced that it was necessary to go further. He expressed it in his correspondence: “if the Congregation is not established outside the Kingdom, it will never be a Congregation” (from the letter written on 30 May 1776). And when he learned of the foundation of Scifelli – district of Rome, delegation of Frosinone, diocese of Veroli – he was filled with joy. “Alphonsus looked towards the North, towards the States, towards the Alps. For the moment, the Congregation again had, in case of alarm, a first refuge outside the Kingdom. It was a Bethlehem cave for scarcity and poverty, but wasn’t Christ born like this?” (Théodule Rey-Mermet, The Saint of the Age of Enlightenment, page 770).

A plaque inserted into the monastery wall informs that “in this house founded by St. Alphonsus M. de Liguori in 1773 from 15 October to 13 November 1785, the III General Chapter of the Congregation of the Holy Redeemer was conducted. He drew inspiration and guidance from his decrees. Clemente Maria Hofbauer, distinguished propagator of the Redemptorist Institute.”

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