By Elena Dini and Heather Walker
ROME — The Holy Door of the Basilica of Saints John and Paul opened on Nov. 22 to mark the beginning of the jubilee year in celebration of the founding of the Passionists 300 years ago in Rome by St. Paul of the Cross.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, presided at the inaugural Mass. The theme for the jubilee year, which will continue throughout 2021, is “Renew Our Mission.”
The Passionist jubilee is an occasion for celebration for The Lay Centre, too. In 2009, The Lay Centre moved to its current location, within the Passionist Monastery of Saints John and Paul on the Caelian Hill in the centre of historic Rome.
“These years have been an important phase in The Lay Centre’s development,” said Lay Centre Director Donna Orsuto. “In this beautiful setting, our scholars have been able to study, dialogue, and find opportunities for silence and recollection.”
In a recent update on the jubilee celebrations sent to members of the Passionist family and their friends, Passionist Superior General Father Joachim Rego said many of the events that were to be held in Rome for the jubilee had to be changed due to the restrictions brought on by COVID-19. Preparations for the jubilee began in 2017.
However, prior to the pandemic, the Superior General had already invited the Passionist family, present in more than 60 nations, to “meaningfully celebrate this jubilee … on the local level, in your local entities.”
The option for local celebrations proved providential, since pilgrimages to places of significance in the life of St. Paul of the Cross would be difficult at this time, said Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, first general consultor of the generalate of the Passionists, in an interview with The Lay Centre.
“It is the first time that the jubilee is also a Holy Year with the privilege of a plenary indulgence,” he added. “We are grateful to Pope Francis, who not only granted us the Holy Year, but wanted to share our joy with a message and is encouraging us to seek new ways of proclaiming the love of God and the victory of love in (one’s) personal life and in society.”
Father Benedettini, who is also the former vice director of the Holy See Press Office, said the Passionist mission is “to testify, following the example of the experience of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, that love, true love, is never useless or unproductive. Love always generates new life and resurrection.”
His words echoed one of St. Paul of the Cross’ most well-known quotes: “The Passion of Jesus is the greatest and most overwhelming work of God’s love.”
A jubilee is always a joyful event, noted Father Benedettini. It brings “good news to the poor” and proclaims “the year of the Lord’s favour” (Lk 4:18-19).
“It is good news, because it is an extraordinary and superabundant offering of God’s mercy, it wipes out sins and punishments to give the person who seeks renewal a new opportunity in his or her life,” he said.
Orsuto, who attended the inaugural Mass on Nov. 22 with some Lay Centre scholars, expressed her gratitude to Father Rego and the Passionists for their hospitality and extended her “sincerest congratulations on this joyous occasion.”
“May this jubilee year bring blessings to the Passionists in every part of the world and here in Rome,” she said.
Video: "Renewing our Mission" - Passionist Jubilee for 300 years of foundation