Hundreds of religious mark catacombs pact’s 50th anniversary

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By: Budi Kleden, SVD.

On Sunday, November 16, 2014, around 200 religious men and women from different religious congregations came together in order to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Catacombs Pact.

They came to the Catacombs for a prayer service following the invitation of the Spanish-Portuguese speaking JPIC promoters of USG/UISG. A procession through the Catacombs and reflections on the Pact and its implication for the Church and the religious life today were part of the prayer service. The participants shared, that although already 50 years have passed since it was signed, they still find the Pact actual and challenging to be implemented today. Its’ simple and straight language proposing concrete actions is not only important for the bishops and religious but also for the whole Church to be more committed in serving the poor.
Domitilla Catacombs are one of the most important catacombs of the city of Rome. They are the best preserved and one of the most extensive of all the Roman catacombs, over 17 kilometers of underground caves. They are the only catacombs that still contain the human bones.
Moreover, they are also important because here, on the 16th of November 1965, around forty bishops made a commitment to the ideals of the Second Vatican Council for a simple life and to be closer to the people (In Word and Deed 1, pp. 49-54). In 13 points the bishops promised to take concrete actions to journey with the poor, to be a poor Church at the service of the poor.
Since 2009 the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) administer the Catacombs of Domitilla. Lots of visitors from different parts of the world come to visit the Catacombs.
This prayer service organised on the 16th of November was the beginning of a one-year program to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Pact. Every two months a group will be organizing a special visit and celebration at the Catacombs in order to mark this anniversary. The next celebration will be on the 15th of January 2015, when the Arnold Janssen Family in Rome will come together to celebrate the day of the Founder in the Catacombs.

 

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