VATICAN - Cardinal Filoni for the 150th anniversary of the Missionaries of Scheut: "That seed today is a plant that has spread its branches in 23 countries across 4 continents"

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "Just 150 years ago, a group of Belgian priests volunteered to Propaganda Fide to work in missions. With them Theophile Verbist founded in Scheut, Brussels, Your Congregation and went to the mission land, Mongolia, where the Verbist died in 1868. That seed was placed and was beginning to sprout. That seed today is a plant that has spread its branches in 23 countries across 4 continents." With these words Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, recalled the beginnings of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM) whose members are known as "missionaries of Scheut", during the Mass that was presided at the Chapel of the Missionaries in Marianhill, in Rome, on Saturday, June 16, feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. "150 Years: A journey of faith and grace in Christ" is the slogan chosen by the missionaries of Scheut to celebrate this significant anniversary. Recalling the historical context of that time, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said: "they were the years when European ideals were being debated between liberalism and fundamentalism and nation states were tempted between secularization, anti-clericalism, and Masons; part of Europe opened to the Kulturkampf. Pius IX pushed the Church in the work of evangelization and waves of missionaries departed from the old European Christianity to Africa, Asia, Oceania. China accounted for almost a continent in itself. It was a time when they saw the light of countless congregations and religious institutions. " Then taking inspiration from the Gospel of the day, the finding of Jesus in the Temple, Cardinal Filoni emphasized the dialogue between Jesus and the teachers, the Rabbis, who "Were amazed at His understanding and His answers" . "Jesus - we can gather- speaks of the Father, speaks of the revelation of God, speaks of Sacred History," explained the Cardinal, stressing that in Him there is "a passion, a fire that consumes him already. There is indeed a desire to 'talk' about God! Talking about God is to proclaim love and mercy; it involves God and place him between us, and allow ourselves to be taken by God. This is evangelization. This passion, this talking about God, this proclaiming him, was Fr. Verbist’s and his first companions of adventure’s last yearning. This passion of Jesus, which was passed on to Fr. Theophile and to the missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is the same missionary zeal that has passed through these 150 years of life and history of Your Congregation. " After expressing gratitude and appreciation to the Missionaries of Scheut, Cardinal Filoni encouraged them by saying that "the Missionary work in the world is not over, passion, courage and generosity are still needed," and even though " in 150 years, the concept and methods of evangelism are not the same, the object of evangelization is the same: Jesus, Son of the Father, who reveals God to us. " And "the missionary is one who has this 'experience' of Jesus; is the one who is taken by Him; is one who helps man to have this encounter with the Lord." Finally, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples highlighted the coincidence with the upcoming Year of Faith: "it will be for you, Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an extraordinary opportunity to reflect on your vocation today and on how to participate not only in the Year of Faith, but also on the prospect that this Year offers." (SL) (Agenzia Fides 19/6/2012)