Rome: Irish College celebrates 25th anniversary of Pope's visit

 Today is the 25th anniversary of the visit of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. On the evening of January 13, 1980, four months after his visit to Ireland, Pope John Paul visited the Irish College to meet the staff, seminarians, postgraduate priests and the Sisters of St John of God who worked in the College in addition to the Irish Franciscan and Augustinian communities in Rome. The Pope, who was accompanied by his secretary Monsignor John Magee, now the Bishop of Cloyne, also met with the lay staff of the College and their families and greeted the people living in the neighbourhood of the College and the staff and patients of the nearby San Giovanni Hospital. The Pope celebrated Mass with the College Community and afterwards joined them for supper. In the course of his homily Pope John Paul addressed the following words of greeting to the congregation: "Today once again, in a very special way, the Pope belongs to Ireland! After my visit to your land, it is a joy for me to come to the Pontifical Irish College and meet all those who live here: the priests and seminarians, and the Sisters of Saint John of God. My visit is also meant for the community of Saint Isidore's Franciscan College and Saint Patrick's Augustinian College. With the Cardinal Primate of all Ireland and with Brothers in the Episcopate, including former Rectors of the Irish College, we are celebrating together our unity in Jesus Christ and in his Church." Pope John Paul went on to remind the priests and seminarians: "We who in our ministry are called to form community on the supernatural basis of divine communion must first experience community ourselves in faith and love. This experience of community is one that is rooted in the earliest traditions of the Church: we too must be of one heart and one soul, united in the teaching of the Apostles, in fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers. "To walk in the truth of our vocation means striving to please God rather than men, to be just in God's sight. It means a life-style that corresponds to the reality of our role in the Church today, a life-style that takes into account the needs of our brethren and the ministry that we shall exercise tomorrow. Living the truth in love is a challenge to the simplicity of our lives, and to a self-discipline that manifests itself in diligent work and study - in responsible and accountable preparation for our mission of service to God's people." To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Papal visit, Cardinal Desmond Connell, Archbishop Emeritus of Dublin is celebrating Mass in the College this morning. On behalf of the Community at the Irish College, the Rector, Monsignor Liam Bergin has sent a message recalling the visit to Pope John Paul. An exhibition of photographs taken on the occasion of the Papal visit is on view in the College. Previous Popes who visited the Irish College include Pope Leo XII in 1827, Gregory XVI in 1835 and 1836 and Pius IX in 1860. The Irish College, Rome was founded on January 1 1628 by the Irish Franciscan, Fr Luke Wadding and Italian Cardinal, Ludivico Ludovisi. It is the only surviving example of the large number of Irish seminaries established on the European mainland during the penal law period in Ireland to educate priests for the Irish Church. Past pupils include Saint Oliver Plunkett and Blessed Columba Marmion. Today, while the primary function of the College is the formation of seminarians and priests for Ireland, it has also expanded to include the education of clergy for other parts of the world. The College is a popular with Irish pilgrims and serves as a cultural centre for the Irish community in Rome. Source: Irish Catholic Media Office

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