Pope to La Mennais Brothers: Be fathers to those you serve

On the occasion of their General Chapter, Pope Francis urges the Brothers of Christian Instruction of Ploermel – known as the La Mennais Brothers – to be “fathers who reflect the loving and compassionate face of God”.

Apr 22, 2024

Pope Francis greets members of the Brothers of Christian Instruction (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

By Christopher Wells
Highlighting their charism of the evangelization of children and young people through education, Pope Francis encouraged the La Mennais Brothers “to be fathers to those t whom you are sent, fathers who reflect the loving and compassionate face of God.”

Returning to the insights of the founders
The 200th anniversary of their foundation, celebrated in 2019, is an occasion to “return to the fundamental insights” of their founders, the Pope said during an audience with participants in the congregation's General Chapter on Monday.

“Today, their work is present in several countries of the world,” he explained, “because they believed that everything is possible for those who entrust themselves totally to the Lord and put themselves at the service of the integral human development of each person.”

The Pope noted that the vocation of the La Mennais Brothers is “to go where others do not go,” to the peripheries, and urged them “to be a source of hope” to those suffering from war, indifference, and our throwaway culture. 

These people, too, he emphasized, have dreams, but dreams that are often shattered. “May you help them to revive their dreams, to believe in them, and to realize them,” Pope Francis said.

He recalled, in particular, the children who continue to play even in the midst of war, but lamented that they have lost their ability to smile.

“One thing that strikes me,” the Pope said, “is when children from Ukraine come here to Rome. These children do not smile: they have lost their smiles.” He called on the Brothers to “work so that they regain the ability to smile.”

The Church is a family, working together
Explaining their place within the Church, the Holy Father said that the Church is a family, where everyone cooperates, with their various charisms and vocations, for the salvation of humanity.

The Pope said he counts on the Brothers' “filial trust and attachment” to the ministry of the Pope, and called on them to collaborate in the Dioceses in which they carry out their mission. 

At the same time, he warned them to avoid any spirit of pride, closure, division, and gossip. 

Finally, he invited them, at the end of their General Chapter, to renew the consecration of their Institute to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, praying that she might help them “to cultivate the zeal to set out to serve, and to cultivate humility, trust in God, and the joy of being servants of His tenderness and mercy.”--Vatican News

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