The Pope celebrates the 175th anniversary of his Prayer Network with more than 5,000 people from all over the world
The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Apostleship of Prayer, today the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, began early this morning in the Paul VI Hall in Vatican City, in an International Encounter with the Holy Father and thousands of people.
(June 28, Vatican City) - Around 9 a.m., the Paul VI Hall in Vatican City began to fill with guests from the five continents, united by a special occasion: the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer), today a pontifical work, celebrates 175 years since its foundation and celebrates 10 years since it began its process of recreation, approved by Pope Francis in 2014. The Holy Father has joined the International Meeting of his Prayer Network, which is entrusted to the Society of Jesus, and while he expressed his gratitude for its work, he also reaffirmed in “the foundation of its mission: the compassion for the world.”
The inauguration of this celebration is framed between two very special liturgical feasts that fill the whole Church with joy: today is the day of the Solemnity of the Heart of Jesus - the spiritual dynamic in which the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network is inscribed - and tomorrow, June 29, is the joint commemoration of St. Peter and St. Paul, two great referents of the Apostleship of Prayer and of the Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM).
The International Encounter of the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network
Fr. Frédéric Fornos, SJ, International Director of this institution since 2016 when he was appointed by the Holy Father, was in charge of the opening of the meeting when, around 10 a.m., he addressed the audience to welcome more than 5,000 guests from 52 countries. This was followed by an institutional video of the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, in which representatives from around the world reaffirmed their commitment to mobilize Catholics around the world for prayer and action.
Immediately afterwards, there was also the opportunity to introduce the Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM), the youth branch of the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network. This international movement of Christian formation for children and young people, present in many parishes, participates actively in the dynamic of prayer and service that characterizes the whole Network. The national teams from the United States, Italy, Paraguay, Brazil and several African countries shared with those present their testimonies and experiences in this refounding process of the past 10 years.
The event went on with the introduction of a project called "The Way of the Heart", which consists of a website and a mobile application. This project is the formation itinerary of the Pope's Prayer Network that invites us to enter into a mission of compassion for the world. Fr. Frédéric Fornos, SJ, also took the opportunity to give thanks for the 10 years since the process of recreation of the Apostleship of Prayer, now structured as the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, began. Pope Francis approved this process 5 years ago and constituted this prayer service as a pontifical work in the year 2018.
The arrival of Francis at the celebration of his Worldwide Prayer Network
At approximately 12 noon, the most highly awaited moment of the day arrived. After a short introduction by Fr. Frédéric Fornos, SJ, Pope Francis joined in the celebration of 175 years of his Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network. He was welcomed by the International Director and by Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, to whom this pontifical work is entrusted. Six participants from different countries testified to the Holy Father about the importance for them of the path of prayer and the mission of compassion for the world that is realized through the intentions that the Pope entrusts each month. Pope Francis, after listening to each one of them, addressed all those present expressing his joy and gratitude for the refounding of this service of the Holy See. In the speech he gave, celebrating this event, he said: “The Apostleship of Prayer [today the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network] reminds the Church that its primary mission is Prayer.” Perhaps, one of the most important moments of the event was when the Holy Father created, in the Paul VI Hall, an imposing atmosphere of silence and recollection, after which he took the opportunity to pray, with all the guests, the prayer of the 175 years for his intentions and the mission of the Church.
The history of the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network
The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network was born as the Apostleship of Prayer in 1844, in a house of formation for young Jesuits in Vals, in the south of France. Fr. François-Xavier Gautrelet, SJ, spiritual director of these young people, proposed to them a way of being apostles in their ordinary lives and encouraged them to be available for Christ's mission through the offering of their lives. Fr. Henri Ramière, SJ, from 1861, guided the Apostleship of Prayer in the dynamic of the Heart of Jesus. Today, this proposal of service and prayer is 175 years old.
This International Encounter for the celebration of the 175th anniversary and the 10 years since its refoundation then closed with the thanks and well-wishes of Fr. Frédéric Fornos, SJ, at about 12.30 p.m., at which time Pope Francis retired, joyfully saluting the entire audience.
Photos: © Copyright courtesy of Vatican Media.
About The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network
The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network is a pontifical work with the mission of mobilizing Catholics through prayer and action, in the face of the challenges confronting humanity and the mission of the Church. These challenges are addressed in the form of prayer intentions entrusted by the Pope to the entire Church. Its mission is inscribed in the dynamic of the Heart of Jesus: a mission of compassion for the world. This work was founded in 1844 as the Apostleship of Prayer. It is present in 98 countries and is made up of more than 35 million Catholics. It includes a youth branch, the EYM: Eucharistic Youth Movement. In March 2018, the Pope constituted this ecclesial service as a Pontifical Work and approved its new statutes. Its international director is Fr. Father Frédéric Fornos, SJ. More information at: