"Pope John XXIII Community" Association
ALSO KNOWN AS
Pope John XXIII Community
At the end of the 1950s, convinced of the importance of being present with the young people to whom he was teaching religion, Father Oreste Benzi (a priest of the Rimini diocese) carried out a number of activities to encourage "a friendly meeting with Christ". This was to involve teenagers, most of whom were accustomed to having decisive meetings with everyone - except Christ. His plan also included building a house in the mountains. Thousands of teenagers who had drifted away from the Church and were at risk of becoming offenders, could come here - and still do - to undergo a liberating experience and choose Christian values to make them part and parcel of their own lives. In 1968, Father Benzi created the "Pope John XXIII Community" Association with a group of youngsters who were prepared to animate the mountain holidays, and with a few other priests. The meeting with people who "would never have managed to make it in life on their own" (the disabled, marginalised, excluded, forgotten) and the willingness of a number of youngsters to work with him full- ime, enabled him to open the first family hostel in 1972. On 7 October 1998 the Pontifical Council for the Laity issued the decree recognising the Associazione "Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII" as an international association of the faithful of Pontifical Right.
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 practising fellowship according to the Gospel.
The Community is governed by a central leader elected by the members. The Association is divided into zones headed by a leader elected by the zone members. The central leader and zonal leaders constitute the Governing Council. The members are grouped into units covering the whole territory in which the Association is present. Each unit, headed by a unit Leader, exists for sanctification, and it is here that members help one another to live their vocation. The general services that exist in the Association are headed by animators elected by the Governing Council. Each zone has a zonal service animator elected by the members of the zone. The Community has full members, who recognise that they have a life vocation and have been confirmed in it by the Governing Council; then there are other members testing their vocation for a period of time, playing a full part and fully experiencing the life of the Community, and taking part in the assemblies, without voting rights. This trial period must last for at least a year. Other people, who are not Community members, such as conscientious objectors and volunteers, also take part in the life and work of the Association.
There are 1,287 full members and 215 members testing their vocation in 18 countries as follows: Africa (4), Asia (3), Europe (6) and South America (5).
The Community’s work in the vast world of marginalisation has led to the establishment of: numerous family hostels where individuals or married couples act as temporary or permanent fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters of disabled people, children in difficulties, former drug addicts, alcoholics, and mentally disturbed people; detoxing centres for addicts; houses of prayer; facilities for street children; centres for teenagers and young adults; social cooperatives providing educational services and businesses providing work for the disadvantaged; facilities for shared holidays; general reception centres; hostels for girls freed from prostitution; fellowship houses, and SOS Centres. There are also numerous initiatives for those who wish to work with the Association, even for a given period of their lives. These include voluntary service, civilian service, "Operation Dove" (for a non-violent presence in war zone frontlines), missionary work to promote multisectoral projects for the self-sustaining development of the poor countries.
Associazione "Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII"
Via Mameli, 1 - 47900 Rimini - Italy
Tel. [+39]0541.909700/55503 - Fax 0541.22365