News archive 2005

Pontifical Irish College in Rome celebrates 25th anniversary of papal visit

PRESS RELEASE

12TH JANUARY 2005

PONTIFICAL IRISH COLLEGE IN ROME CELEBRATES

25TH ANNIVERSARY OF PAPAL VISIT

 
Tomorrow marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the visit of His Holiness
Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Irish College in Rome.   On the evening
of January 13th, 1980, four months after his visit to Ireland,  Pope John
Paul visited the Irish College to meet the staff, seminarians, postgraduate
priests and the Sisters of St John of God who worked in the College in
addition to the Irish Franciscan and Augustinian communities in Rome.
The Pope, who was accompanied by his secretary Monsignor John Magee, now
the Bishop of Cloyne, also met with the lay staff of the College and
their families and greeted the people living in the neighbourhood of
the College and the staff and patients of the nearby San Giovanni
Hospital.  The Pope celebrated Mass with the College Community and
afterwards joined them for supper.

In the course of his homily Pope John Paul addressed the following words
of greeting to the congregation:

‘Today once again, in a very special way, the Pope belongs to Ireland!
After my visit to your land, it is a joy for me to come to the Pontifical
Irish College and meet all those who live here: the priests and seminarians,
and the Sisters of Saint John of God. My visit is also meant for the
community of Saint Isidore’s Franciscan College and Saint Patrick’s
Augustinian College. With the Cardinal Primate of all Ireland and with
Brothers in the Episcopate, including former Rectors of the Irish College,
we are celebrating together our unity in Jesus Christ and in his Church.’

Pope John Paul went on to reminded the priests and seminarians that

‘We who in our ministry are called to form community on the supernatural
basis of divine communion must first experience community ourselves in
faith and love. This experience of community is one that is rooted in
the earliest traditions of the Church: we too must be of one heart and
one soul, united in the teaching of the Apostles, in fellowship, in the
breaking of bread and in prayers.

To walk in the truth of our vocation means striving to please God rather
than men, to be just in God’s sight. It means a life-style that corresponds
to the reality of our role in the Church today, a life-style that takes
into account the needs of our brethren and the ministry that we shall
exercise tomorrow. Living the truth in love is a challenge to the simplicity
of our lives, and to a self-discipline that manifests itself in diligent
work and study – in responsible and accountable preparation for our mission
of service to God’s people.’

To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Papal visit, His Eminence
Cardinal Desmond Connell, Archbishop Emeritus of Dublin will celebrate Mass
in the College on Thursday morning. On behalf of the Community at the Irish
College, the Rector, Monsignor Liam Bergin has sent a message recalling the
visit to Pope John Paul. An exhibition of photographs taken on the occasion
of the Papal visit is on view in the College.     

Previous Popes who visited the Irish College include Pope Leo XII in 1827,
Gregory XVI in 1835 and 1836 and Pius IX in 1860.

Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)
 
NOTES TO EDITORS:
* Electronic photos of this visit are available free, upon request, from
the Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth.
* The text of the Pope’s Homily from his visit is included below.
* The Irish College, Rome was founded on January 1st 1628 by the Irish
Franciscan, Fr. Luke Wadding and the Italian Cardinal, Ludivico Ludovisi.
* It is the only surviving example of the large number of Irish seminaries
established on the European mainland during the penal law period in Ireland
to educate priests for the Irish Church.
* Past pupils include Saint Oliver Plunkett and Blessed Columba Marmion.  
* Today, while the primary function of the College is the formation of
seminarians and priests for Ireland, it has also expanded to include the
education of clergy for other parts of the world.  
* The College serves as a centre for Irish pilgrims during the summer
holiday months.
* In addition, the Irish College serves as a centre for the Irish community
in Rome and as a focal point for Irish culture.
* In 2004, six of the College’s students were ordained priests.
* Each year over 200 Irish couples celebrate their weddings in the Irish College.
* The present rector is Monsignor Liam Bergin from the Diocese of Ossory

MASS AT THE PONTIFICAL IRISH COLLEGE
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL  II
13 January 1980

 Moladh go deo le Dia.
Praised be Jesus Christ.

Dearly beloved in Christ,

1. Today once again, in a very special way, the Pope belongs to Ireland!

After my visit to your land, it is a joy for me to come to the Pontifical
Irish College and meet all those who live here: the priests and seminarians,
and the Sisters of Saint John of God. My visit is also meant for the community
of Saint Isidore’s Franciscan College and Saint Patrick’s Augustinian College.
With the Cardinal Primate of all Ireland and with Brothers in the Episcopate,
including former Rectors of the Irish College, we are celebrating together
our unity in Jesus Christ and in his Church.

The place of our celebration is important for its contribution to the Church,
for the impact it has had on the lives of the Irish, and for its responsibility
to future generations. It is likewise important for the Christian witness of
love that has been given here; one example well known to me is the hospitality
furnished by the Irish College to Polish refugees after the Second World War.
In this regard, the presence at this Mass of Monsignor Denis MacDaid is a
living link with the splendid achievements of the past.

2. And so, with our history and our hopes, all of us are here together to
seek light and strength in commemorating the Baptism of the Lord. As portrayed
in the Gospels, the Baptism of Jesus marked the beginning of his public
ministry. John the Baptist proclaimed the need for conversion, and the great
mystery of divine communion was revealed: the Holy Spirit descended on Christ,
and God the Father pointed out his beloved Son to the world. From that moment
on, Jesus pursued resolutely his mission of salvation Our celebration today
invites us to reflect personally on these three elements: conversion, communion
and mission.

3. The role of John was to prepare for Christ. It was in the context of
conversion that the communion existing in the life of the Most Holy Trinity
was revealed. The Baptist was announcing an invitation to turn to God, to be
conscious of sin, to repent, to walk in the truth of one’s relationship with
God. Meanwhile, Jesus himself had submitted to the penitential rite and was
at prayer when the voice of the Father proclaimed him as Son: the one who is
totus ad Patrem, the one who is totally devoted to the Father and living for
him, the one totally enveloped in his love. We too are called to take on
the attitude of Jesus towards his Father. The condition, however, for this
is conversion: a daily, repeated, constant, sustained turning to God.
Conversion is necessary to express the truth of the adoption of sons that
is ours in Baptism. For in Baptism we were called to union with Christ in
his death and Resurrection, and hence we were called to die to sin and to
live for God. In Baptism the vivifying action of the Holy Spirit took place
in us, and the Father now sees in us his only Son, Jesus Christ: “You are
my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you”.

4. The communion of the Most Holy Trinity goes on in our lives. Through
Jesus Christ, the mystery of divine adoption takes place, as he who is
the Unigenitus Dei Filius becomes the Primogenitus in multis fratribus.
A former student of the Irish College, the Servant of God Dom Columba
Marmion, has left to you and to the whole Church extensive writings of
deep insight and great value on this mystery of the divine sonship and
on the centrality of Jesus Christ in God’s plan of sanctification.

5. In our daily lives the call to conversion and divine communion has
practical requirements, if we are to walk in the profound truth of our
vocation, in the sincerity of our relationship with the Father, through
Christ and in the Holy Spirit. In practice, there must be an openness to
the Father and to each other. Remember that Jesus is totus ad Patrem, and
that he wanted the world to listen to him say: ” I love the Father”. Just
this fast week in my Wednesday audience I mentioned that man fulfils his
nature only by ” existing ‘with someone’ – and still more profoundly and
more completely: existing ‘for someone”‘. These words in turn reflect the
teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the social nature of man.

We who in our ministry are called to form community on the supernatural
basis of divine communion must first experience community ourselves in
faith and love. This experience of community is one that is rooted in
the earliest traditions of the Church: we too must be of one heart and
one soul, united in the teaching of the Apostles, in fellowship, in the
breaking of bread and in prayers.

To walk in the truth of our vocation means striving to please God rather
than men, to be just in God’s sight. It means a life-style that corresponds
to the reality of our role in the Church today, a life-style that takes
into account the needs of our brethren and the ministry that we shall
exercise tomorrow. Living the truth in love is a challenge to the simplicity
of our lives, and to a self-discipline that manifests itself in diligent
work and study – in responsible and accountable preparation for our mission
of service to God’s people.

In a special way, living the truth of our lives here and now – in Rome in
the year 1980 – means fidelity to prayer, to contact with Jesus, to communion
with the Blessed Trinity. The Evangelist points out that it was while Jesus
was in prayer that the mystery of the Father’s love was manifested and the
communion of the Three Divine Persons was revealed. It is in prayer that we
learn the mystery of Christ and the wisdom of the Cross. In prayer we perceive,
in all their dimensions, the real needs of our brothers and sisters throughout
the world; in prayer we are strengthened for the choices that lie ahead; in
prayer we are fortified for the mission that Christ shares with us: to bring
“true justice to the nations… to serve the cause of right”.

Hence this house and all the religious houses and seminaries of Rome are
meant to be houses of prayer, where Christ is formed in every generation.
Because you are living in Rome, in a Diocese for which I personally must
give a particular accounting to the Lord, you will understand how ardently
I desire that Christ should be formed in you.

But towards this goal you must not walk alone. In a community of brethren
who maintain alive and pure the same high ideals of Christ’s priesthood you
will find strength and support. In the communion of the Church you will find
joy. Through the guidance of competent spiritual directors you will find
encouragement and you will avoid self-deception; by turning to them you will,
above all, render homage to the humanity of the Incarnate Word of God, who
continues to sustain and guide the Church through the instrumentality of men.

6. And as you endeavour to accept fully the call to conversion and communion
– the call to full life in Christ – the sense of your mission must grow more
and more acute. In tranquillity and trust you must begin to experience ever
more a sense of urgency: the urgency to communicate Christ and his saving
Gospel.

By the grace of God there is now going on in Ireland a period of intense
spiritual renewal. And all of you must become involved in this. You must
prepare yourselves for this mission by work and study and, especially, prayer.
In this regard I ask you to listen once again to the words I prepared for
the students at Maynooth: “What I really want you to realize is this: that
God counts on you: that he makes his plans, in a way, depend on your free
collaboration, on the oblation of your lives, and on the generosity with
which you follow the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in the depths of your
hearts. The Catholic faith of Ireland today was linked, in God’s plan, to
the fidelity of Saint Patrick. And tomorrow, yes, tomorrow some part of
God’s plan will be linked to your fidelity – to the fervour with which you
say yes to God’s word in your lives”.

7. The youth of Ireland have understood and responded very well to my call,
the call to come to Christ who is “the way, and the truth, and the life”.
But they need your special gift, your help, your ministry, your priesthood,
so that they can succeed in living the truth of their Christian vocation.
Do not let them down. Go among them and be recognised, like the Apostles,
as men who have been with Jesus, men who have been steeped in his word,
and are aflame with his zeal: “I must preach the good news of the kingdom
of God… for I was sent for this purpose”. But the success of this mission
of yours depends on the authenticity of your conversion, on the degree that
you are conformed to Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of the Eternal Father,
the Son of Mary. Turn to her, and ask her help.

In the Eucharist that I am celebrating with you and for you today, I have
present in my heart your families and friends, and the entire Irish nation.
In a special way I am praying for the youth of Ireland. And today, to you
and through you to all of them I wish to say once again: “Young people of
Ireland, I love you! Young people of Ireland I bless you! I bless you in
the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Amen.

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