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20 years of ecclesiastical approval of the UAC

28 October 2023 was a special day for the Union of Catholic Apostolate (UAC) which had been officially recognised by the Church 20 years before. On 28 October 2003, the Pontifical Council for the Laity (now the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life) had issued the Decree which approved the General Statutes of the UAC and thus recognised it as an International Public Association of the Faithful of Pontifical Right.

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Therefore, UAC members – from among the Lay Members, Sisters, Brothers and Priests – came together in the church of Spirito Santo dei Napoletani in Via Giulia, Rome. At this church Saint Vincent Pallotti had been rector when he founded the Union in 1835. The concelebrated holy mass was presided over by the President of the General Coordination Council (GCC) of the UAC, Fr. Jacob Nampudakam SAC who in his homily quoted from the message of Pope Francis for the World Mission Sunday 2023 to have “hearts on fire, feet on the move”. He urged the Union members to realise Pallotti’s prophetic charism today. 

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Before holy mass, a commemorative and thanksgiving ceremony was dedicated to special moments of the celebration twenty years ago. The addresses of the then President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Msgr. Stanisław Ryłko and of the then President of the GCC, Fr. Seamus Freeman SAC were read and photos of the celebration were displayed. Two witnesses who had been present at the event shared their memories, Sr. Adelheid Scheloske SAC and Donatella Acerebi. Sr. Adelheid said: 

IMG 2096For me, 14 November 2003 was indeed a very important day. I entered the Congregation of the Pallottine Missionary Sisters in 1983. Two years later, I was in the novitiate, and we participated in an international pilgrimage to Rome which was a very good and enriching experience for us. We felt that we belonged to a large Pallottine family. – With this experience on board, I took part in the international Pallottine symposia at the Pallottine University in Vallendar during the following years and I took every opportunity to work with Pallottine Fathers, Brothers and lay members in Germany. Since 1996, I have conducted seminars on the spirituality and foundation of St. Vincent Pallotti for the female and male novices in Germany. I have observed the development of the General Statutes of the UAC from the beginning and I was pleased when in 1999 the Pallottine communities committed themselves to live according to the Statutes and to put them into practice.

So, my joy was great when in 2003, after several years of discussion with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, it was announced that our General Statutes would be ecclesiastically approved. And an international group from the various forms of belonging was to represent the Union at the handover by the President of the Council for the Laity, Msgr. Ryłko. So, people had to be found who could travel to the event at short notice. We were asked to come from Germany with three persons. I was very happy to be one of these three, together with a married woman, member of a lay group, and a married man, UAC individual member. Besides, Fr. Hubert Socha was also there from Germany, who had played a decisive role in the editing of the Statutes and who for me was always good to talk to when it came to understanding the meaning of particular points of the Statutes or of its development.

By the way, the Pontifical Council for the Laity had sent the message about the approval, if I remember correctly, in September. The handover was to be on 14 November. So, a date had to be found between these two days for the Statutes to be signed. Therefore, 28 October was chosen as the feast of the Apostles Simon and Thaddeus.

With gratitude I think back on this day which, on the one hand, was the conclusion of a long development and which, I was and am convinced, Vincent Pallotti dreamed of. On the other hand, I know that this event also puts us before a great challenge, because with this approval of our charism by the Church, we have also received the mandate to live accordingly.

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Sr. Adelheid Scheloske SAC

Photos (4): Fr. Manuel Raj SAC