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Saturday, 3 April 2004


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. With great joy I welcome and greet you with affection. I greet your parish priest, Fr Gioele Schiavella, whom I thank for his courteous words expressing your common sentiments. I greet the Vicar General of the Order, who has not wished to miss this meeting, and the praiseworthy Augustinian Religious together with their collaborators. I greet the ecclesiastics present, the representatives of religious communities working throughout the parish, the families and all the beloved faithful of the Pontifical Parish of St Anne.

2. It is your intention to celebrate fittingly the 75th anniversary of the parish which was instituted at the wish of my venerable Predecessor, Pope Pius XI, with the Apostolic Constitution Ex Lateranensi Pacto of 30 May 1929. After the stipulation of the Lateran Pacts which constituted Vatican City State, he desired to provide for the spiritual good of the faithful who lived in the territory of the new State, and entrusted the new parish to the pastoral care of the Augustinian Order.

Since then, the parish community has carried out active pastoral work, deepening its experience of faith and communion among its various members. Thanks to the constant effort of everyone, the Church of St Anne has become a spiritual oasis where one can pray and take part in liturgical celebrations conducted with great decorum and devotion.

I also know that in the parish there are many groups dedicated to manifold apostolic and evangelizing activities. They unite to the commitment to spread the Good News a constant witness of fraternal charity and solicitude for their brothers and sisters who are most in need.

3. The celebration of your 75th anniversary is an appropriate occasion to give thanks to God for the fruitful experience of the past. At the same time, it is a fitting time to draw incentives and encouragement to persevere on the path chosen, looking confidently to the future. My hope is that the spiritual and apostolic enthusiasm of the Augustinian Religious, the priests who help them as well as the pastoral workers and parishioners, may continue to increase.

Dear brothers and sisters, your Church, which stands at the entrance to the Vatican, is a parish to which I feel particularly close. I therefore assure you of my constant remembrance in prayer. I ask the Lord to guide your community with his Spirit, so that it may be the centre of Gospel outreach and of the peace of Christ.

4. Then, as Easter is approaching, I would like to express my hope for you that the light of the passion, death and Resurrection of Christ may illumine your entire life. Only Jesus can fill your hearts with serenity and awaken within you the desire to proclaim his Gospel with joy and total dedication.

As I wish you, your families and all your loved ones a holy Easter, I invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary and of her holy Mother Anne, and impart my Blessing to all of you gathered here, extending it to the whole of the parish community.


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