Today, January 22nd, we the Pallottine Family celebrate the feast of St. Vincent Pallotti, the 168th anniversary of his death, and the 55th anniversary of his canonisation.
The following is a homily preached on the feast day of St. Vincent on 22nd January 1968, by the late Fr. Alfie Kelly, SAC, in the Pallottine Parish of San Patricio, in the town of San Antonio de Areco, in Argentina, where Fr. Alfie was based. Fr. Alfie was one of the five Pallottines massacred in the Parish of San Patricio, Belgrano, in Buenos Aires, on the 4th July 1976.
A very happy Feast Day to all.
St. Vincent Pallotti’s Feast – Homily preached by Fr. Alfie Kelly in San Patricio, in
San Antonio de Areco, 22-01-1968.
It is probably true to say that despite belonging to a Pallottine parish, our parishioners know very little about the life of the man who founded this congregation of priests and brothers. Many think, for example, that the founder was Irish because the priests that they have known were from Ireland, or had Irish roots.
Vincent Pallotti was Italian, born in the city of Rome towards the end of the 17th century, in 1795, and he became a secular priest, having earlier attempted to enter a religious congregation and was not accepted because he did not have very good health. As a priest he was renowned for his great capacity as a spiritual director, as a counsellor and for the great love he had for all those we came to him. He also possessed an ability to ignite in people a desire to work for good, to enkindle them towards the apostolate. A large number of persons gathered around him: all those whom he directed spiritually, those who came to him for advice, those who shared his ideals, which were primarily geared to the renewal of faith, to the rebirth of faith and charity in Catholics and in the conversion of the entire world to the Church. His time was similar to ours in that evil was advancing in the world and those who knew God were not very enthusiastic about bringing that knowledge and experience to others.
That group of people who were part of St. Vincent Pallotti’s circle and who helped him was made up of a great variety of persons: from cardinals and bishops to more simple persons who had little education.
With the passage of time this became a group with its own constitutions and it was approved by ecclesiastical authority. In order to attend to these people Pallotti was assisted by priests and brothers and he gave them a special constitution. In other words he constituted a congregation of priests and brothers to attend to the larger movement, and this group is known today as the Pallottine Fathers and Brothers.
This is a synthesis of the work of Vincent Pallotti, and in his work, or his foundation, we can see a number of characteristics of his spirit:
a) The apostolate of the laity: there, in that group, lay persons worked, each in his or her own way, together with priests and religious. This seems very normal to us today, but in the last century this was unknown ….
b) Likewise he insisted strongly on the spirit of community: it was community animated by and guided by the priests. He insisted on it, and this is another characteristic which the apostolate must have today.
c) In his work there was no distinction between the members of the Church: lay persons had the privilege and the obligation to act and to work as members of the Body of Christ.
Because of all this and of other aspects which we don’t have the time to develop today, St. Vincent Pallotti is considered to be a saint for our time, even though he lived more than a century ago.
We too are called to radiate and spread these same ideals: the spirit of charity, of union between Christians, and in this union, zeal for the salvation of men and women; the responsibility of all in working to spread faith and love of God.
Let us ask our friends and our faithful to help us with their prayers, that by his example and word, some of this may be realized among us, in our parish of St. Patrick.
Fr. Alfie Kelly, SAC.