As I touched down inRome, the crowded airport was an early indicator of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who were about to descend onRomefor the canonisation of Pope John Paul II. The streets and the piazzas were filled with people from every continent and everywhere you looked there were posters and videos all of which recalled this great man of God whom we knew as Pope John Paul II. There was a tangible sense of joy and celebration in the city. I had not seen crowds this large since the World Youth Day in the Year of Great Jubilee 2000.
This was to be the context for the Executive Meeting of the Catholic Fraternity. Our prayers and deliberations were inspired by the call to holiness which had been so profoundly lived out by John Paul II. Like every other meeting of the Executive, there was a packed agenda as we looked at the new communities seeking admission to the Catholic Fraternity, the pastoral challenges that were being faced by communities all over the world and heard reports of various initiatives taken by President Matteo Calisior other members of the Executive who were involved in a great variety of initiatives throughout the world. In addition to all these practical agenda items, the Catholic Fraternity was about to celebrate an historic moment with the “Inauguration of the New Offices” in theVatican’s Palazzo San Calisto.
As we made our way into the beautifulchurchof St. Mary in Trastevere (just next door to the Palazzo San Calisto), I could help but feel a real excitement as we were about to fulfill a dream of nearly ten years of hoping and planning as we prepared for the Mass of Inauguration and the Blessing of the Offices. Our dear friend and Spiritual Advisor to the Catholic Fraternity, Archbishop Dom Alberto Corrêa presided at the Eucharistic Celebration and His Excellency, Bishop Josef Clemens, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity blessed the Offices. This celebration was a profound expression of communion. We were warmly welcomed into thechurchofSt Maryin Trastevere, home of the Egidio Community. This was but one of the many representatives of Movements and New Communities who had joined us for the occasion. Community members had flown in from different parts of the world including family members of Bobbie Cavnar (co-founder of the Fraternity with Brian Smith) who travelled from theUnited Statesfor this special occasion. Bishops and priests, representatives of the Council for Laity, Ecumenical friends as well as a number of Ambassadors appointed to the Holy See had all come for this great occasion. I was delighted to see our Australian Ambassador, Mr Tim Fischer, present at the Mass and the Blessing of the Offices.
Congratulations to all members of the Catholic Fraternity on achieving this milestone. I would add a special word of congratulations toMatteo Calisiwho has worked tirelessly to establish this office and to the great team of women and men who are the office staff members. We look forward to this new chapter in the history of the Catholic Fraternity. Normally in this newsletter, we would include a message from the President of the Catholic Fraternity but as this newsletter is going to print Matteo is about to leave for the Sth East Asian Regional Meeting and then on toBrazil. We look forward to his report on these gatherings in the next newsletter.
Your brother in the Lord,
Shayne Bennett (Editor)