Pope Francis exhorted religious and consecrated persons in the Philippines to be open to new roads of evangelization.
The pope said the Church must be open “to fresh ways of bearing witness to the joy of the Gospel and forming vital communities of missionary disciples.”
“In this way, they will be renewed in their love of Christ and in fidelity to their proper charism,” said Pope Francis.
The pope made the call during this year’s convention of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.
The pontiff’s message was relayed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, and was read to the assembly by Archbishop Charles Brown, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, on April 28.
The biennial assembly also marked the 65 years since the establishment of the associations of men and women religious superiors and the 50th anniversary as a joint association.
In his message, Pope Francis cited the contributions “generations of consecrated persons to the building up of the Church.”
He said these concrete efforts are manifested through their “multiple apostolates and works of charity.”
The pope also expressed his prayer that the association’s meeting “will inspire the consecrated men and women in the Philippines to discern fresh ways of bearing witness to the joy of the Gospel and forming vital communities of missionary disciples.”
Meanwhile, the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life noted the Philippine religious association’s concern for and commitment to the poor.
Cardinal João Braz de Aviz of Brazil said the country’s consecrated men and women promoted the “prophetic witness of the Gospel” through their works for justice, peace, and integrity of creation.
He said the concrete fruit of the evangelizing power that many religious congregations have carried out their mission in the country “are the countless vocations that make it possible for the Philippine Church to go out on mission today”.
The cardinal expressed hope that the Filipinos’ “creative and passionate” effort continue to be sustained “through freshness, creativity and the opening of new paths to pass on the gift.”
The theme of this year’s ARMSP celebration is “Singkwenta sa Limang Siglo: 50 Years of AMRSP on the 500th Year of Christianity in the Philippines, Celebrating the Gift of Consecrated Life in Mission at the Service of God and of Humanity.”
The AMRSP is a joint forum of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Men in the Philippines and the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines.
It was formed in the early 1970s after the formation of the associations of men and women in the 1950s as a result of directives from the Sacred Congregation of Religious to form “permanent organizations of religious communities of (women/men) in the Philippines in the person of the major superiors.”
The original statutes of the associations said the purpose of the associations was “to coordinate the aforesaid Religious communities, to study the problems of common interest, and to assure their more effective solution through close collaboration.”
They are also mandated “to coordinate the activities of all institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life” of men and women in the Philippines, “to study matters and problems of common interest and to assume their more effective solution through dialogue and cooperation.”