Dear Confreres:

God in His Providence grants us another opportunity to celebrate the titular feast of
our Congregation: the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Most B.V.M. This
becomes our chance today, as it does every year, to express our gratitude to the Good
God, not only for the grace of calling our community to serve the Church, but also for our
personal vocation within it.

The year which is ending was rich in events both in the whole Church and in our
Congregation. First of all, the eyes of the whole Church, as well as of the world, were
turned to the Synod of Bishops on young people. In our Congregation, I promulgated the
renewed Constitutions, ratified by the General Chapter last year, and I issued a special
letter on that occasion, explaining the adopted changes. It contained a broad historical and
theological background, and it was to be studied during a conference on one of the Days
of Recollection and to assist us to more deeply understand the reasons for the new
wording of our by-laws. The new Constitutions are not yet available in all languages. Yet,
we must remember that this year’s renewal of our religious vows on the solemnity of the
Immaculate Conception should be done in accordance with the new formula of religious
profession. Also, this new formula must be used during the profession of first vows, for
their renewal and for the perpetual vows. We are gradually advancing in our preparations
to celebrate the 350th Anniversary of the foundation of our Congregation: a specially
appointed committee is now preparing a program and appropriate materials. The
celebrations will open December 8th of next year.

Together with the whole Church, we contemplate the mystery of the Immaculate
Conception of the Mother of Our Lord

Article Seven of our renewed Constitutions provides a deepened theological reflection
on the mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of Our Lord. It also speaks
in detail about the impact of this mystery of the Faith on our Marian spirituality. This
article is entitled “With Mary immaculately Conceived.” In view of its particular
importance, it is worthwhile to quote it here in full: “In the following of Christ, the
Immaculate Virgin Mary assists us and shows us the way. From her conception, free from
sin and full of grace and filled with the gratuitous love of the Holy Spirit, she is the fruit
of the paschal victory of Christ and the first partaker of the redemption. She reveals the
creative and salvific love of the Most Holy Trinity; she is the image of the new man
capable of a relationship with God and others, the beginning of the new People of God
and the seed of a new humanity. Contemplating the Immaculate Conception of Mary
together with the whole Church, let the confreres come to know this mystery, love,
profess, celebrate and proclaim it. Let them draw inspiration from it, fill their spiritual life,
communal life, and apostolate. By this mystery above all, Mary urges the confreres to
trust in the unlimited fruitfulness of the work of redemption, to avoid all sin, to love purity
of heart, to imbue life fully with divine grace and charity, and to so build up the Church
in unity ‘that it be holy and immaculate’ (Eph 5:27).”

We discover the mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of the Lord at
a time in her adult life, described in the pages of the Gospel, when God invites Mary to a
more involved co-operation with the saving plan of God, to which she gives her assent.
This is how we recognize that this gift and privilege is not exclusively reserved for Mary,
but is the fruit of Christ’s paschal victory as well as a sign of the participation in His work
of redemption. It is granted not for Mary’s glorification and elevation, but in service to
the redemption of men. As her spiritual sons, we are also immersed through Baptism and
the other sacraments in the salvific mystery of God, just like Mary was. May we – together
with Mary – become “holy and immaculate” (Eph 1:4). This way. the mystery of her holy
conception would become not only our inspiration, but also our experience of Faith in the
Holy Spirit: by realizing the ‘Word in our lives and submitting our beings to the Word
through the victory of divine power and love over our weakness and sinfulness, by our
docile faith in God’s plans both in regards to us personally and to our entire religious
community. “God’s creative love,” to which our Constitutions refer, is always greater
than our ability to comprehend things, and the only answer is the or-re, which we find
expressed by Mary at the moment of the Annunciation: “I am the handmaid of the Lord;
let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). Today, let us ask the Lord – through
the intercession of His Mother – that we would entrust ourselves and our community to
God in the same way that Mary entrusted her life and thus to give the witness of our Faith
to all our brethren.

The Challenges for our Congregation that result from the Synod dedicated to
the young people

On October 3-28,2018, a Synod entitled “Youth, faith and vocational discernment” took
place in Rome. Its deliberations were dedicated to young people from 16 to 29. They
number approximately 1.8 billion persons worldwide, which is nearly one-quarter of the
entire world’s population. Many important and timely observations concerning the
ministry to youth were made both during the preparations for and proceedings of this
Synod. They are essential guidelines for our own apostolate, especially in the field of
vocational ministry. During my regular visitations of our Provinces and General
Vicariates, I have been able to observe that this particular ministry suffers from
limitations and misinterpretation on the part of our confreres. Naturally, vocation
directors are appointed; yet, I have the impression that – generally – the total concern for
vocations is being heaped on these appointees who are only asked about the number of
candidates they were able to obtain for the Congregation. It would seem that we either
forget or refuse to remember that concern for vocations to serve God in the Church is an
essential element of every form of pastoral ministry. In this context, it is worth recalling
words from the Message of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Participants in the
Conference on the Pastoral Work for Vocations “Vocational ministry and consecrated
life: prospects and hopes ” from Nov. 25, 2017 to speak of vocational ministry is to affirm
that all pastoral action of the Church is oriented, by its very nature, to vocational
discernment [. ..] Vocational service must be seen as the soul of all evangelization and of
all the Church’s pastoral ministry.” From this perspective, we are all vocation directors.
However, many of us either are not aware of this or we refuse to acknowledge it.

Therefore, I propose that the Province and General Vicariate Superiors review the matter
of awakening vocations in their entities and dedicate one of their conventions to it. As the
basis for their reflections and to draw practical conclusions, they should use the Synod’s
documents . The Instrumentum laboris of the Synod on Youth confirms the existence of
such a need, by stating in art. 86: “there is the need to lay the foundation for a broad
vocational youth pastoral care’ that can be meaningful to all young people.”

Beloved Confreres:

Today we have the opportunity to deepen our prayers, to renew our religious vows
and to reflect on our charism. In a special way, I greet all of you, and in my prayer, I
entrust you to the Mother of Our Lord, Mary Immaculately Conceived, who is also our
Mother and Patroness. May she beseech for us the grace of a grateful and creative fidelity
to the Holy Spirit, the giver of all gifts and charisms. Today, I pray for all of you in a
special way, particularly for the confreres who are elderly and sick, for those who feel
alone, or suffer a crisis of vocation. I entrust all of you to the merciful God and to the
intercession of the saints, above all, our holy father, St. Stanislaus and Blessed George,
our Renovator. I am asking you also for prayer for me, that I may faithfully fulfill the
ministry which the Lord entrusted to me.

Immaculata Virginis Mariae Conceptio sit nobis salus et protectio!

Fr. Andrzej Pakuła, MIC
Superior General

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