The 15th of January is the feast of Arnold Janssen (November 15th, 1837 – January 15th, 1909).
To celebrate this day of the founder, the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) and the Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) in Rome meet at the Catacombs of Domitila to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Pact of the Catacombs. The two congregations, celebrating the feast of their Founder, want to deepen the significance of the Pact of the Catacombs and its consequences for their life and mission, during this year of consecrated life.
On November 16, 1965, a few days before the closure of the Council, more than 40 council fathers, representatives of different continents, celebrated the Eucharist in the catacombs of Domitila. They prayed to be “faithful to the spirit of Jesus” and at the end they signed what they called “the Pact of the Catacombs”, that consisted in inviting the “brothers in the episcopate” to carry on a “life of poverty” and be a church “servant and poor”, just like John XXIII desired.
Arnold Janssen is the founder of three religious congregations: the Missionaries of the Divine Word (founded in 1875), the Missionaries Servants of the Holy Spirit (founded in 1889) and a branch of cloistered sisters, Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration (founded in 1896). Today, the Divine Word Missionaries count with more than six thousand members. They are present in five continents and work in 77 countries. The Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit, like the Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration (SSpSAP), work also in the five continents.
The mass on January 15 is presided over by Cardinal Walter Kasper and takes place at 15:00 hours, in the chapel of the Domitilla Catacombs. Before the mass, there are a number of activities in the Divine Word College of Rome. Among others, the talk of the Superior General of the Divine Word Missionaries, Heinz Kulüke, about the Pact of the Catacombs and Arnold Janssen: its spiritual implication in the family of Arnold Janssen; reflection in small groups, and personal and collective prayer. After lunch, all present will walk (about an hour walk) to the Domitilla catacombs for the celebration of the Eucharist..