Church marks feast for ‘promoter’ of the lay vocation

Saint Vincent Pallotti (1795-1850)

Saint Vincent Pallotti (1795-1850)

By Donna Orsuto

Today, the Church recalls Saint Vincent Pallotti — a trailblazer and prophetic figure in promoting the vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and in the world.

Vincent Pallotti was convinced that laity are called to live at the heart of the Church, not simply to enjoy one another’s company, but to open themselves up to the coming of the Holy Spirit, so that they might receive the gifts they need for their mission in the world.

The Lay Centre’s Thursday morning theology program is named in honour of this great promoter of the laity, who was born in Rome on 21 April 1795 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1818.

Like Saint Philip Neri, some considered Pallotti to be an “apostle of Rome” because this was where his life and untiring apostolic ministry unfolded.

The breadth and depth of Pallotti’s ministry in the local church was extraordinary. He was attentive to the poor, the sick and the marginalized. Soldiers, students, princes and prisoners counted on his wise counsel. He preached retreats to religious and was involved in parish missions. He served as spiritual director to various international colleges and organized numerous formation programs and retreats for youth, adults, and priests. He encouraged his friends to join him in praying for the “sanctification of the whole world”.

Pallotti and his lay friends were active in the local church. At the same time, they opened their eyes to the needs of the universal church.

For instance, in 1833, after hearing of the needs of the Chaldean Church (established in present-day Iraq and Iran), he organized, along with the lay professor Tommaso Alkusci, an appeal “to all good Catholics of the entire world” so that churches could be built in these countries.

An image that captures Pallotti’s idea of laity at the heart of the Church is that of the disciples gathered around Mary, “Queen of the Apostles”, in the cenacle. This was his inspirational way of portraying that it is only when we are gathered together for a “common purpose” that the Holy Spirit works.

In a painting depicting the Descent of the Holy Spirit that he commissioned, he insisted on placing two women in the midst, one on either side of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as a reminder that just as the Holy Spirit is given to all, so also the apostolate, the call to share in the mission of Jesus Christ, is a responsibility to be shared by all.

Pallotti always had great respect for the Pope as supreme apostle and the bishops and clergy as guarantors of apostolic preaching. At the same time, he asserted that the clergy did not have the exclusive responsibility for the mission of the Church in the world.

Pallotti firmly believed that every Christian, of every class and vocation, urgently needed to be involved in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ through whatever means possible.

The Lay Centre’s Thursday morning theology program is named in honour of this great promoter of the laity, Saint Vincent Pallotti.

Feel free to join us at The Lay Centre for the winter/spring series of the Vincent Pallotti Institute. The full calendar of our next six-week series is offered below. For more information or registration, contact info@laycentre.org.

Vincent Pallotti Institute Winter Program
“Joy in the Christian Life”
Starts 19 February, 9:30 a.m. to noon

The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.
– Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium

19 February
Forgiveness: a prerequisite for sharing the Gospel of Joy
Rev. Felix Körner, SJ, teaches theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

26 February
St. Benedict’s Guide to Joy in Everyday Life
Abbot Edmund Power, OSB, is a Benedictine and the abbot of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

5 March
St. Augustine on Joyful Praise
Rev. Joseph Farrell, OSA, is vicar general of the Order of Saint Augustine.

12 March
Joy in Sorrow
Rev. Martin Coffey, CP, is executive secretary of the Office of Formation of the Passionists.

19 March
The Joy of Christian Living
Dr. Donna Orsuto is the director of The Lay Centre and teaches at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

26 March
Joyful Missionary Disciples after Secularization
Rev. Felix Körner, SJ

13-15 March Weekend Lenten Retreat
“And the greatest of these is love”: Reflections on love in the writings of St. Paul
Rev. Míceál O’Neill, O.Carm, is Prior of the Collegio Internazionale di Sant’Alberto. He has a backgound in Latin American spirituality and Carmelite mysticism.

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