.- In a letter made public Saturday, Pope John Paul praised and challenged members of the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception to redouble their efforts in spreading the love of the Eucharist and Mary to the world. The message to the Congregation, commonly known as the Marian Fathers, comes on the occasion of their General Chapter and was written from Romeâs Gemelli hospital.
The Marians were founded in Poland in 1673 by Servant of God Stanislaus of Jesus Mary Papczynski who, the Pope noted, "knew how to spread and courageously defend the truth of the Immaculate Conception even before it was proclaimed as a dogma of faith.â
He challenged the community to âFaithfully follow his example and propagate Marian devotion all around you."
"In this year especially dedicated to the mystery of the Eucharist," the Holy Father stressed, "make this wonderful Sacrament even more the center of your personal and community life, placing yourselves docilely at the school of the Blessed Virgin, 'Eucharistic woman'.â
If your heart burns with fervent love for the Eucharist and for Our Lady, the shrines you run in various parts of the world will be even more genuine 'cenacles' of prayer and welcome."
The Pope noted the many "exemplary religious" who have been Marians, "often in difficult and risky situations," even to the point of giving their lives.
He asked the congregation "to intensify [their] apostolic drive, committing [themselves] with renewed enthusiasm to the promotion of priestly and religious vocations and satisfactorily preparing those aspiring to your institute to be generous workers in the Lord's vineyard.â
âMay your pastoral collaboration with lay faithful grow,â he concluded, âdedicating special attention to the young and to the needy, to the marginalized and the elderly. Be apostles and witnesses of Divine Mercy for everyone."
"'For Christ and the Church': May this continue to be the program of your religious family to whom I wish an abundant harvest of apostolic fruits."