This past week marked the 175th Anniversary of the formation of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. Created by Jesuit scholastics in France almost two centuries ago, the anniversary of the network brought pilgrims from around the world to celebrate with the Holy Father in Rome. Fr. Frederic Fornos, international director of the Network of Prayer, welcomed thousands to the Vatican for the event. The group, including more than 60 Jesuits, had an audience with Pope Francis in the Paul VI auditorium. The Holy Father praised the network and thanked the Society of Jesus for the “re-foundation” of the network 10 years ago under the Generalship of Fr. Adolfo Nicolas.
On Saturday, June 29, two other major activities marked the celebrations. In the aula of the General Curia of the Society, a meeting of national leaders provided an opportunity to reflect on the life of the movement. This network, in its renewed form, has grown stronger today and includes a substantial representation of youth (such as the Eucharistic Youth Movement, or EYM), reaching more people than before in all age groups and across all continents. On Saturday evening, the EYM held its own gathering on the campus of the University of La Sapienza.
Here are some excerpts from Pope Francis’ speech addressed to the thousands of Network members who gathered:
“Thanks for this visit! I take this opportunity to renew my gratitude to you for your commitment to prayer and to the apostolate for the mission of the Church. Yours is a most necessary service, which underlines the primacy of God in people’s lives, fostering communion in the Church. It is a mission of compassion for the world, we could say a ‘journey of the heart,’ that is, a prayerful journey that transforms people’s lives. Closeness to the Heart of the Lord urges our heart to approach our brother with love, and helps us to enter into this compassion for the world. We are called to be witnesses and messengers of God's mercy, to offer the world a perspective of light where there is darkness. (...)
I would also like to thank the Society of Jesus. It is thought that the Jesuits are the intellectuals, those who think... But it was the Jesuits who created this prayer network. The Jesuits are men who pray, and this is great. And then, in a special way, I would like to thank the dedication and creativity of Father Fornos: thank you, brother!”
And a few words from Father Sosa’s interview with Vatican Radio on this occasion:
“The Sacred Heart is a very beautiful, very powerful image: we all speak of the heart when we speak of the most important things in our lives. It is the center of the affective life where not only feelings but also great decisions happen. And certainly, the Heart of Jesus is for us a source of inspiration that never ends, because, precisely, it gave heart to his life. He put so much heart into his life that it burst. In the end, the scene of the spear on Jesus’ side... reaches that extreme that gives everything. His heart is broken out of love and so that we may all have life. Devotion to the Sacred Heart is a commitment to life, to making it possible for all human beings to have real life in this world. The Heart of Jesus, which inspires Pope Francis, leads him to be sensitive to the great needs of the poorest, just as Jesus did.”
See the photos of this quadruple event (Photos: Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network).
Fr. William Blazek SJ speaks about the purpose of belonging to the Pope's World Prayer Network.