On February 6, 2023, the Spiritual Exercises prescribed by the Constitutions preceding the deliberations of the 59 General Chapter of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception began at the General House of the Congregation in Rome.  Conferences on discernment were delivered by Fr. Jaime Emilio González Magaña, SJ. The Eucharist, celebrated by members of the Chapter in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, was presided over by Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko – Archpriest of the Basilica.

Opening the Mass in the Basilica, Cardinal Ryłko said, among other things: …You have chosen the Papal Basilica of Our Lady Major as the place to celebrate this Eucharist. This is a very meaningful choice: for this is the oldest Marian shrine of the Latin Church – the mother of all Marian shrines scattered throughout the world, with 16 centuries of history. And you have chosen this Pauline Chapel, where Mary, Salus Populi Romani, has been receiving a part for centuries. It can be said that as Marians, you are in this Basilica and in this chapel “at home,” that is, in the home of Mary Immaculate, in the Basilica where, as the Holy Father St. John Paul II used to say, “the Marian heart of the Church has been beating for centuries.”….

In his homily, Card. Ryłko focused on the significance of the Chapter lived in the context of the 350th anniversary of the existence of the Congregation of Marian Fathers, pointing out three key elements of the jubilee: grateful remembrance for the road traveled, living the present life of the Church and the Congregation with passion and evangelical joy, and looking to the future with renewed hope. Concluding his homily, the Cardinal returned to the theme of the place where the Eucharist is celebrated: …the chapel of the icon of the Mother of God Salus Populi Romani he said: In this ancient Basilica of Our Lady Major, everything speaks of the presence of Mary Immaculate in the life of the Church, in the life of this city and in the life of every disciple of Christ. It is a presence that attracts the faithful, a maternal presence that invites them to kneel, to pray and open their hearts to Mary. Inside these ancient walls, the words of Christ’s testament spoken from the Cross to the beloved disciple have resounded for 16 centuries: “Behold your mother” (Jn 19:27). The same words Christ addresses to each of us today. Each of us Christ entrusts to his Mother today: “Behold your son.” St. John, having heard these words, “took Mary to himself” (Jn,19,27). From an encounter with Mary, one never returns alone! So take Mary with you for the days of intense work ahead of you at the General Chapter. Entrust to Her all the tasks and challenges that face your Congregation. Today, look into Her eyes in a filial way, and may this look of the Mother, which reaches you from this ancient icon, accompany you during these days.

After the concluding blessing of the Mass, the Superior General of the Congregation, Fr. Andrzej Pakuła, MIC, and all the Marians present at the Eucharist made the “Act of Entrustment of the Congregation of Marian Fathers to the Mother of God” before the icon of the Mother of God. At the same time, Marians around the world did the same in their local communities; the “Act of Entrustment” will be repeated once again throughout the Congregation on December 8, 2023, at the conclusion of the Great Jubilee of the 350th anniversary of the Marian religious community.