The protagonist of the growth of the Church is always the Holy Spirit

Audience with the Shalom Catholic Community

© Vatican Media

This Monday, September 26, 2022, in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father received in audience the participants in the Meeting of the Shalom Catholic Community. This meeting of the Shalom Community takes place within the framework of the 40th anniversary of its foundation.

Speech of the Holy Father

I thank Moysés and María for their presentation, and I thank you who have given your testimonies. I greet Cardinal Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, and Cardinal Scherer, so humble that he has come to accompany us. Firstly, I would like to highlight something that we have heard from Moysés. He said that the Shalom Community was born forty years ago during a Eucharistic celebration, at the time of the offertory.

It was born in prayer, in the liturgy. It is the Holy Spirit who makes the Church live -let us not forget-, who sends her. And this he does above all in prayer, in a special way in the Liturgy. Thank you, Moysés, because your experience reminds us of that.

You, Fabiola, asked me how to persevere in friendship with God in a troubled world, and how to “infect” this experience in our living environments. Firstly, if we remain in Him through prayer, listening to the Word, adoration, the Rosary, then the sap of the Holy Spirit passes from Him to us, and we can persevere. The fruit is love, and it is the love of Christ that touches the hearts of people, wherever we are, in any environment. It is up to us to remain in Him, the rest is done by the Holy Spirit.

Bertrand, you declared that you were struck by the youthful style of the first meeting with the “Shalom” community, and you asked how it is possible to keep this spirit alive, and also what is the importance of the role of youth in the Church. It is not about physical youth, but about youth of spirit, that which shines more in the eyes of certain old people than in those of certain young people. And another thing, as Saint John Paul II said at WYD 2000, “who stays with the young, stays young”. If an older person isolates himself, he avoids the young, he ages faster.

All of them built the Church and continue to build it with their testimony, corresponding to the grace of God. And you, Dilma, testified to the joy of friendship with the poorest brothers. She was called Sister Teresa. And then she would go out and recognize it in the faces of those abandoned people.

Near here, a hundred meters from where we are now, there is a house, called “Gift of Mary”, where the Missionaries of Charity welcome some people. Your question concerns the present and future trajectory of the “Shalom” Community. His Community is characterized from the beginning by creative courage, acceptance and a great missionary drive. This work that you carry out in various countries has given rise, over the years, to an ecclesial reality that now includes not only young people, but also families, celibates committed to the mission, priests.

Your name is “Shalom”. This is «Shalom», peace to you. That peace of heart that you have received through your personal encounter with the risen Jesus and the experience of his infinite love. This peace has reconciled you with God, with yourselves, with others, and now you also try to transmit it to all the people you meet.

The word “Shalom” is also engraved on the “Tau”, the crucifix that you wear around your neck, as a sign of your choice and your call to be disciples of Jesus everywhere. And in his name there is also the word “catholic”. Theirs is a Catholic community. It is the name of our Mother Church.

You have valued the gifts and the vivacity with which the Church in Brazil is rich. You have taken advantage of the current of grace coming from the Charismatic Renewal, which has also nourished your charism. You have emphasized preaching, music, and individual and community contemplative prayer. This is truly the “catholic” wealth and the inexhaustible wealth that is found in the Church and to which we must always draw.

His Community is also Catholic because it has always walked side by side with the pastors of the Church. It was the then Archbishop of Fortaleza, Father Aloisio Lorscheider, who suggested to Moysés that he offer something to Saint John Paul II, on behalf of all the young people. And the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to offer his own life. It was Bishop Lorscheider himself, a Franciscan, who guided the spiritual identity of the young community by recommending the writings of Saint Teresa of Ávila.

Saint Francis and Saint Teresa are the inspirers of your spiritual journey. Many other pastors have helped and supported him. Always maintain this spirit of filial obedience, affection and closeness to your pastors. Do not walk away from the shepherds.

Where there is a shepherd, there is Jesus. Indeed, we, as shepherds of Jesus. Dear brothers, in these forty years of your history the physiognomy of the community has been outlined -there are the essential, constitutive features-, but it is a process that is not yet complete. I exhort you to remain docile to the action of the Spirit, open to mutual listening and to the guidance of the Church, to discern the best way to continue your journey.

As I have mentioned before, your community was born from an act of giving. This is a grace, because it has awakened and continues to awaken in many young people the desire for equal dedication. The delivery proposal, in fact, without giving up showing the beauty of the vocation to discipleship, must know how to respect the freedom of people, know how to wait for the different times of growth of each one and accompany by delicacy and discernment in the choice of the state of life to embrace and in the choice of community life. Dear brothers and sisters, we thank God for who you are and for what you do.

His charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, to the Church of today. We bless the Lord for the many young people who attend your groups, for the families that have been formed, for the many vocations and conversions, for the support you give to so many parishes, for all the apostolate you do in the most diverse environments. And you have come to Rome to renew the offering of your life and to renew, before the Successor of Peter, that founding act that your founder carried out forty years ago. May Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Teresa of Jesus accompany you on your way.

May the Virgin Mary, model of all donation to the Lord, keep in you the spirit of trust and abandonment in the Father and she help you to persevere in your choice.