Pope Francis receives John XXIII Community
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received nearly 8 thousand members and associates of the Pope St. John XXIII Community on Saturday. Now recognized as an Association of Lay Faithful, the Pope John XXIII Community was founded by Fr. Oreste Benzi of the clergy of the Diocese of Rimini in 1968, on the basis of his decade of experience with young people – mostly teenagers – who had accepted his invitation and participated in his initiatives encouraging what he called, “A friendly encounter with Christ,” especially through service to and with the disabled, marginalized, the excluded, and forgotten.
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The work of the foundation has involved numberless teens who had drifted away from the Church, offering them the chance to have a truly liberating experience and choose to live the way Christ calls them to live. In remarks prepared for the participants in the audience in Paul VI Hall on Saturday, Pope Francis said, “Providence has made you grow, proving the vitality of the charism of your Founder, who liked to say, ‘In order to stand on your feet, you must get on your knees.'”
Indeed, the centrality of prayer to the life of Christian service has been a keystone of the Community’s ethos from the beginning.
The vocation of the members of the Community is to shape their lives in the image of Christ who constantly does the will of the Father. Prompted by the spirit to follow Jesus in his poverty and service, they undertake to share the lives of the least of their brothers and sisters by sharing their experiences and helping them to bear their plight. They place their shoulders under the Cross borne by others. Love for their poor brothers and sisters must urge them to try to eliminate the causes of need, and lead the Community to make a commitment to build up a more just world, and to speak out for those without a voice. This vocation requires space for prayer and contemplation, living the life of the poor, being led by obedience, and practicing fellowship according to the Gospel.
The John XXIII Community officially became an association of the faithful of Pontifical right in 1998, and is now present in 34 countries around the globe.