IV International ACI Assembly. ROME 2024

IV International ACI Assembly. ROME 2024

It is a great gift and Joy to celebrate the IV International Assembly in Rome in this house of XX Settembre, in the centenary year of her death, where St. Rafaela Mary lived during her last 20 years. The motto “ACI Family, Gift of the Spirit…journeying together toward a synodal Church” and the theme “Journeying together with active hope listening to the needs of the world.” We are an international group, with the richness that this brings with it, having 36 participants, 28 from the ACI Family and 8 Handmaids coming from 20 countries. In this assembly steps have been taken by lay persons to prepare this IV international meeting, with dedication and creativity and the sisters accompanied them.

Day 1 Monday 25th February 2024

Sr. Rosario addressed the IV International assembly saying to us “ that this house is a privileged place to contemplate St. Raphaela. Really, the ACI Family is a gift of the Spirit for us, and as you sum up in the motto, let us journey together toward a synodal Church ”. Sr. Giuseppina Agresti followed speaking about Saint Rapheala Mary’s first experiences in Rome. All the delegates followed, bringing their national flag, soil from their country and a wish they wanted to share with the FACI in respect to this assembly. After there was a tour of the house xx settembre.

A Presentation was given regarding the past 3 Assemblies and their themes: gift of the spirit, family for the world and ACI going forth. IV assembly: walking together towards a synodal church. Jesus Venzala from Pedro Abad shared a very rich personal experience of St Rapheala Mary inviting us to go deeper, in St. Rafaela’s way of looking, based on the phrase. “I look at Him, and He looks at me, and that is enough.” And he has led us to her gaze, to the Crucified Christ in the shrine of Pedro Abad, the sea of Cadiz, the poor and the Heart of Christ.

Adoration followed hosted by Brenda and Elmer from the Philippines with the theme ‘for a universal church that builds the kingdom of hope’. The evening sharing hosted by Japan, Italy, India and Peru about their countries, culture and ACI groups.

Day 2 Tuesday 27th Feb 2024

The day began with mass in the Chapel, adoration and a prayer prepared by Maria from Columbia ” for the poor and weak of the world”.

A documentary entitled “ Amen” was shown. This was an interview between the Pope and 10 young people. Very powerful and heartfelt. A moving account given as a sample of the teaching of the pope about a church on the way that seeks contact with the hardest material and existential realities. Personal reflection followed by group sharing on what they heard and felt, following through their shared input. How can we realise our commitment as FACI to the synodal church?

Sr. Lola Vegas from Cadiz, Spain gave a presentation on the dynamics of adoration. She helped us to discover in greater depth the apostolic dimension of adoration. It is a challenge to discover that the adoration is not a personal devotion, but an encounter with Christ, and when He comes, there come with Him all of our brothers and sisters. A damaged icon of Christ was shown, the assembly were invited to go deeper without trying to repair the image of the Christ.

Breaking up into 4 groups the assembly was given a task to prepare from their reflections the adoration. The adoration followed like a rich tapestry worked/interwoven by many hands.

The assembly were entertained with a concert by the ‘trio folk di Santa Cecilia’ which fed the spirit and touched the soul followed by the 2 nd evening of culture etc. from the countries of Spain, Columbia, Portugal and Ecuador.

Day 3 Wednesday 28th February 2024

Today was the visit to Rome in the footsteps of Saint Raphaela Mary. We waited in a very long queue for our general audience with Pope Francis. The Congregation were filled with anticipation and excitement. Some of our group were fortunate to be at front at the right time. As he passed Saint Raphaela Mary song could be heard by the group he glanced over and waived to all.

The assembly were shown the statue of St Raphaela Mary and again the song of Saint Raphaela Mary leaped from their mouths. Back in St Peters Square the song was sang again, so full of joy, bystanders filmed the group, beaming smiles upon their faces. One of the delegates Michela was an Italian tour guide so we were very blessed indeed today. The assembly were guided along the path St Raphaela Mary had walked, also visiting the rooms of St. Ignatius at Gesu. Leaving there we then moved on down the winding streets, enthralled by all the sites to San Claudio for adoration.

Day 4 Thursday 29th February 2024

Hector from Chile prepared a prayer entitled ‘for a sustainable economy that seeks justice and human dignity’ our prayer referred to the ‘economy of Francis’ by Pope Francis. We prayed 12 points which summed up this document. A presentation was presented by Sr Belen Escauriaza aci on the structure of the FACI and a profile of the members of the commission and a presentation presented by Juan and Claudia on Participation of the FACI family in the XXI general Congregation. Fruits from the work which ACI participated in, giving hope and becoming agents of love. Adoration followed hosted by Xana and Maria Joao from Portugal and Jackie from England. The topic was “care for our common home.” The final presentation of the day was presented by Juan Jose Garcia about Mother Pilar. How we have enjoyed listening to Juan Jose speak with such affection about M. Pilar! . He helped us to understand her process of spiritual growth and challenged us to go deeper into her person and her writings. The 3 rd evening of culture etc. from the countries of Panama, Philippines, USA and England.

Day 5 Friday 1st March 2024

The prayer prepared for today was presented by Lidia from Ecuador on the topic of ‘the role of the laity – on the way to a synodal church’. This followed by a presentation presented by Sr Marcela Saènz aci entitled ‘for a synodal church of communion’ with group sharing and feedback.

Adoration was arranged by Roxanna of Peru with the theme of ‘future of the ACI Family – challenges and dreams.’ The final night of sharing hosted by Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.

Day 6 Saturday 2nd March 2024– Happy Feast of the ACI Family.

March 2 nd is a day that St. Raphaela
considered “ the greatest day of her life, because on it I was inscribed into the book of Life”.

Prayer from ACI family commission: ‘ACI family agents of reparation and builder of hope’. Followed by an evaluation of experiences of the assembly. The IV international assembly concluded with mass, in the church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Saint Rapheala Mary was with us. Fr Rophy Pinto sj celebrated the Eucharist, Readers were chosen from members of the assembly along with Christina and Cecilia from India and Michela from Italy singing song “Arati” of offering during the Doxology. All received a leaf placed on the tree inscribed with the words ‘we are called to keep on bearing fruit’. This was a very beautiful and joyful mass; emotions were running high. The ACI family all renewed their commitment. The song of Saint Raphaela Maria was sung for one last time. Sr. Rosario closed the assembly with her final address of “ profound gratitude and sending us to live with hope, trust and thanksgiving, to be available for the mission, a mission that cannot remain limited to our group, so as to live in an attitude of going forth to the situations and persons that need hope, dignity, fraternity ”.

“All united like the fingers on the hand” St. Raphaela Mary.

Janet Andrade aci