Mission and Apostolic Work

 

The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer

Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, popularly known as “Redemptorists”, in southern Italy in 1732. Redemptorists strive to follow the example of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer by preaching the Gospel to the poor (cf. Luke 4,14-21). The Congregation began as a response to the spiritual needs of the abandoned, poor people living in the rural, mountainous areas outside the city of Naples. Now present in seventy-seven countries, Redemptorists number 5,500 priests, brothers and students who have professed the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

At first, only a handful of men followed the inspiration of Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Yet within the lifetime of its founder the Congregation expanded beyond the Kingdom of Naples, first in central Italy and then in Poland. During the first decades of the nineteenth century Redemptorist communities were established in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Germany, Belgium and Holland. In 1832, the centennial year of the foundation of the Congregation, six Redemptorist missionaries (three priests and three brothers) traveled to the United States of America and began the first missionary work outside of Europe. Foundations followed in Latin America, Australia, and eventually Africa and Asia.


C.Ss.R.

Redemptorists use the initials “C.Ss.R.”after their names. These four letters are an abbreviation for Congregatio Sanctissimi Redemptoris, Latin for “Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer".

The Congregation has a motto taken from verse 7 of Psalm 130, in Latin: Copiosa apud eum redemptio (With him there is plentiful redemption). This portion of the psalm is a succinct declaration of the spirit that motivates Redemptorists because in it God shows himself to be absolutely generous in love, mercy and forgiveness for men and women, loving the world so much as to give his only Son, Jesus Christ (cf. John 3,16). Redemptorists have been touched by this love and therefore seek to carry such Good News to the world but with a special preference for those who live on the margin of Church and society.


The Work of Redemptorists:
Bringing Good News to the Abandoned Poor

All Christians are called to be missionaries insofar as the love of God is something that is meant to be shared. Redemptorists, as a fuller expression of their baptismal consecration, fulfill this most basic vocation of all Christians by responding with zeal and creativity to the pressing pastoral needs of the most abandoned, especially the poor, and by devoting themselves entirely to evangelization. In order to carry out their mission, Redemptorists try to live like the apostles of Jesus and dedicate their entire lives to God and missionary work. In a rapidly changing world, Redemptorists constantly seek new ways to preach the Good News of God’s love.

Like the apostles, moved and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, Redemptorists spare no effort to make a total gift of themselves to God “who first loved them" (1 John 4,10). This response of love finds expression in the profession of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. Redemptorists live in communities of priests, brothers and students. Besides working together, the members share prayer, their material goods and, really, their very lives. More than simply a convenient way to live, the lifestyle of a Redemptorist community is itself a proclamation of the Gospel to the poor.

In order to fulfill their primary calling, Redemptorists serve in a number of types of ministry, which are described below. Each section contains a link which will lead you to more information.

N.B. This part of our site is still being developed. The links will be added as the texts and new pages become available.


Preaching

St. Alphonsus wanted his companions to be itinerant preachers of the Word of God. In many countries today this original inspiration is carried out by missionaries who visit a parish for a week or longer and offer a special series of sermons that invite people to a deeper love for God and a fuller practice of the Christian life. Beyond preaching, the parish mission may include special devotions; visits to people’s homes, especially the sick; counseling and spiritual direction, all with an emphasis on the sacrament of reconciliation.

Redemptorist preachers also conduct triduums (three days) and novenas (nine days), which are periods of prayer and preparation prior to special feasts, as well as retreats to lay people, priests, religious sisters and brothers. St. Alphonsus insisted that Redemptorist preaching be simple and down-to-earth in order to make the profound mysteries of faith accessible to all people, regardless of social, cultural or educational background.


Moral Theology

Because of his extraordinary contribution to helping ordinary people follow Jesus, Saint Alphonsus was named the patron of moral theologians and confessors. The Congregation maintains a long-standing interest in and commitment to moral theology by giving this theological discipline a strong emphasis in the initial formation of its seminarians and in the life-long study of its members. Redemptorists serve as advisors to associations of Catholic hospitals and use modern media to help people form their conscience. They place a high value on being good confessors and accessible spiritual directors. The Congregation maintains Institutes for graduate studies that offer specialized education in moral theology to priests, religious and lay people: the Alphonsian Academy in Rome, Italy and the Institute for Moral Sciences (Instituto Superior de Ciencias Morales) in Madrid, Spain.


Shrines and Sanctuaries

Redemptorists are blessed with an extraordinary opportunity to minister in shrines, sanctuaries and traditional sites of pilgrimage. Some of these sites attract more than a million pilgrims each year, like centers in the Philippines, Singapore, Colombia, Brazil, Canada, Materdomini and Rome, Italy. Even in countries where religious practice has decreased dramatically, shrines where Redemptorists serve still retain a strong connection with people. This form of missionary work allows Redemptorists to specially touch the lives of thousands of people, particularly through preaching and the celebration of the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Often other services are offered, such as catechetical instruction, counseling and social assistance. Redemptorists work in effective teamwork with many lay ministers in welcoming pilgrims.


Retreat Houses

Since the founding of the Congregation Redemptorists have opened their houses to people who seek time to “retreat” a bit from the worries and cares of their ordinary lives and look for a deeper relationship with God in an environment of silence and prayer. Various kinds of retreats are offered for all types of Christians: priests, religious women or men, married couples, engaged couples, single people and the young, who might spend a week or a weekend in a special time of communion with God. Redemptorist missionaries who work in this ministry always seek new ways to help people experience God’s loving presence in their lives.


Parishes

Redemptorist missionaries also serve in parishes or other parochial structures. Parishes staffed by Redemptorists can be found in big cities, small towns and across vast expanses of rural areas. Redemptorists generally accept parishes in areas where the local diocese is unable to provide adequate pastoral care. Parish ministry includes preaching, teaching, counseling, liturgical and sacramental celebrations, visits to the sick and social assistance. Beyond doing ordinary parish ministry, Redemptorist priests and brothers always have an anxious zeal for the unchurched and alienated.


The Perpetual Novena in Honor of
Our Mother of Perpetual Help

In 1866, Pope Pius IX entrusted to the Congregation the original icon of Mary, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, commissioning Redemptorists to “make her known.” As a result, this image of Mary is the most recognizable image of the Mother of God in the world. Across the globe, hundreds of thousand of people gather for the weekly novena in honor of our Mother Perpetual Help in a Redemptorist church or diocesan parish. The Redemptorists value this devotion as a great opportunity to fulfill their mission of evangelization.


Overseas Missions

At the request of the Holy Father or in response to requests from local bishops, Redemptorist missionaries are sent to countries and cultures distant and different from their own, in difficult places and situations. In a real way Redemptorists continue to fulfill a dream of Saint Alphonsus: that Redemptorist missionaries would preach the Gospel throughout the whole world.


Social Communications and Media

Saint Alphonsus was a great communicator. Besides his preaching, he also wrote more than 100 books that have now been reproduced in 20,000 editions and translated into over 70 languages. Some of his writings, such as the Glories of Mary, his Way of the Cross or Visits to the Blessed Sacrament are universally appreciated in the patrimony of Christian spirituality. Today Redemptorists use all means of social communication to preach the Word of God: publication centers, radio and television stations and programs, audio-visual materials, and the Internet.


Work for Peace and Justice

Redemptorists believe that the saving love of God touches the whole person and calls for the transformation of social injustice into respect for the dignity of all men and women. Hence Redemptorists around the world are involved in a wide variety of social problems and justice issues such as: immigration, refugees, homelessness, poverty, unemployment, workers’ rights, women’s issues, exploitation of child labor, racism, genocide, indigenous peoples, the environment, war and violence, weapons of war and trafficking in people.


Youth and Vocation Ministry

While Redemptorists have always enjoyed working with young people, in 1985 the world-wide government of the Congregation made youth ministry a pastoral priority. Young people must be numbered among the most abandoned, since they frequently find themselves on the margin of Church and society. So it is only natural that Redemptorists feel the call to be with them. A part of this ministry is aimed at helping young people discern their own vocation in life. For more information, go to the pages of the General Secretariat for Redemptorist Youth and Vocation Ministry.

If you are interested in more information on a Redemptorist vocation, please contact the nearest Redemptorist community or the Secretary General of the Congregation, Fr. Joseph P. Dorcey, C.Ss.R., (seg.gen@cssr.com).


Formation of Candidates
Ongoing Formation of Redemptorists

Some Redemptorists work specifically in the initial formation of future Redemptorist missionaries, helping young men to understand and to embrace the charism, identity, spirituality and mission of the Congregation. Continuing spiritual, intellectual, and cultural formation is imperative for all Redemptorists in order that they might continue their challenging mission in a diverse and rapidly changing world.


Working with the Laity

Redemptorists have always believed that God calls all people to holiness, each according to his or her own vocation in life. Many lay people appreciate the Redemptorist charism and seek Alphonsian spirituality. In recent years Redemptorists and lay people have intensified their efforts in doing missionary work together. As a result, there is a joining of energies and a sharing of the joys and burdens of missionary work, which mutually enhances and enriches the lives of lay people and Redemptorists.


In Communion with our Sisters, the Redemptoristines

The Redemptorist family is larger than the 5,500 professed members of the Congregation. There are many orders and congregations of religious women who share a common history and spirituality with Redemptorists. The Congregation is especially blessed to have the prayerful support of the Order of Redemptoristine Nuns, founded by Venerable Maria Celeste Crostarosa, a contemporary of St. Alphonsus and instrumental in the foundation of our Congregation. The Redemptoristines are especially dedicated to a life of prayer and contemplation. There are 477 Redemptoristines in 46 monasteries located around the world. For more information about the Redemptoristines, please visit the following web sites:

www.redemptor.pl/redemptorystki (Poland)

www.rednuns.faithweb.com (Ireland)

www.catholic.org/macc/redemptoristines.html (USA)

www.redemptoristky.sk (Slovakia)

www.redemptoristinnen.at (Austria)

www.redentoristasmonasterio.org (Spain)

www.kloster-heiligenborn.de/puettl.htm (Germany)

www.multimedia.com/depairon/moniales/redemptoristines.html (Canada)