Interview With the New President of Verbum Dei
GRANADA, Spain, 2 MARCH 2007 (ZENIT)
The Church should be seen as a
family to which one is proud to belong, says the new president of the
Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity.
Father Antonio Velasco was elected as president of the fraternity at its
third general congress. The monthlong congress began Jan. 17, the
fraternity's 44th anniversary.
In this interview Father Velasco comments on the future of the
missionary fraternity, a new institution of pontifical right for
consecrated individuals, approved as such in 2000.
Q: The theme of the congress was "A Charism at the Service of the Word."
What importance does the word of God have in the fraternity, and in the
life of the Church in general?
Father Velasco: Verbum Dei centers its mission on the living word of
With the motto of Jesus' first disciples
"We shall dedicate ourselves to prayer and ministry of the word"
our mission consists in living the dynamism of the word of God: to pray
the word, assimilating it until it becomes our life, transforming us
into it and thus teaching it to others, with the hope that they too will
pray, live and teach it existentially to others.
It is a vital dynamism which makes of the Church a home that is always
We are aware that the word of God, exactly as it was described by the
Synod of Bishops of 1985, is one of the two sources of the Church
word of God and sacraments.
This is why the word is constituted as soul and engine, norm and spirit
for the Church; it is light on her path
as the psalm says
light to become a communion of disciples of Jesus in his own mission.
It is the place where God speaks and manifests his will and, at the same
time, it is the school of life and love for the disciples and apostles
of Jesus, whether they are lay people, consecrated persons or priests.
The news of the next Synod of Bishops, with the theme the "Word of God
in the Life and Mission of the Church," has been an immense joy for us.
We believe it might be a breath of Spirit for the Church, for faith
communities, for diocesan entities, for the ecumenical movement, as well
as for the joining of forces of all confessions in a mission that frees
us from the narrow ways of concentrating on internal problems and
Q: What are your plans as the fraternity's new president?
Father Velasco: What are my plans? I'd like to know them. Instead, I
would ask what plans does the Holy Spirit have, as he is really the one
who guides this work.
For my part, I believe that the tasks that have arisen from the
fraternity's third ordinary congress are a priority to which I wish to
respond with all my strength.
In the same way I hope to respond to the functions proper to the figure
of the president, exactly as outlined by Father Jaime Bonet, founder of
Verbum Dei. In short, to consolidate and guarantee the dimension of
communion in diversity of the charism of Verbum Dei
made up of a branch of celibate women, a branch of celibate men and a
branch of consecrated married couples
to work to make unity and communion of mission and of judgments in the
Q: Verbum Dei's founder was present at the third general congress. Did
he give you some advice?
Father Velasco: During the days of the congress, not only to me but to
all the participants, he repeated certain basic but extraordinarily
vital things in the present time of the Church and of our world.
The first, repeated in his words, but especially by his example, is the
call to live an intense spirituality, centered on continual living
together with the Trinity and Mary, who dwell in us and make up our
first home. From this continuous and affectionate dialogue, a missionary
heart is born, on fire with the desire to attract to the love of God the
greatest number of people, and without fear of the difficulties proper
to the mission.
Finally, he transmitted to us a very great experience of freedom, born
from prayer, which leads to seeking always new ways of evangelization
without tying us to structures, schemes or our own interests, and
enlightened by a hope that goes beyond human effectiveness or apparent
Q: Do you think that there is a lack of involvement and commitment on
the part of Catholics in the evangelization of the present world?
Father Velasco: In my missionary experience over several parts of the
world, I have seen people of every social condition very involved in the
proclamation and living of the Gospel.
Some cases have made me kneel down and weep with gratitude and sorrow: I
am speaking of Catholics, whom I have known personally, who have even
shed their blood out of love for the Kingdom of God.
The picture in our Western world, however, is very confused, and people
suffer much from the lifestyle that has been created which is so
individualistic and superficial.
People need and want to be involved in evangelization or in the building
of a world that is more solidaristic, but often they don't know how, or
do not have the strength to break the virtual bubble into which a global
consumerist world has gently introduced us.
With some help and support, and when people are introduced into the
school of life and love which is the Gospel, people enjoy it and give
the best of themselves.
I believe the Church must be forged as a true school of apostles. Only
in this way will Catholics be able to give the best of themselves, and
this will make them feel more linked to the Church affectively,
regarding her as their own family; a family in which we participate
actively and of which we can be proud despite its obvious limitations.
Q: In addition to the missionaries, consecrated persons and priests, the
fraternity includes missionary married couples. Of what importance is
the family from the point of view of evangelization?
Father Velasco: For us, it is vital. Not only because the family is the
first evangelizer of children, but because, in addition, it contributes
to the living of faith and love of priests and consecrated persons.
I think that we, the consecrated, need the contribution of Christian
families to live our consecration and mission fully. The Family of
Nazareth is, in fact, the best model of a community of faith. ZE07030224