Fr. Gaspar Bertoni founded the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata under the following Motto:
Apostolic Missionaries in the Service of Bishops
To achieve this end by following the footsteps and Charism of our Founder, we are dedicated in particular way to:
- the instruction of the Youth
- the preaching of retreats and popular missions
- the assistance in Clergy formation
The following are comments about our Charism and Motto based on the life and spirituality of our founder:
Finality, Pastoral Activities and Life Style
Since his time as a seminarian, Fr. Bertoni worked hard helping the injured during the war and guiding the youth. Being an eloquent speaker, he was called by his bishop to preach popular missions in the city of Verona. Because of the excellence of his preaching, he received from the Holy See the title “Apostolic Missionary”. While attending to his bishop’s call, he also devoted himself, body and soul, to the formation and spiritual renewal of the Clergy of Verona, who were emotionally and spiritually affected by war. He worked so much in this task that the priests and seminarians became models of religious conduct and apostolic dedication.
As missionaries, we, Stigmatines, are willing to go to any place of the world, with the purpose of spreading the Word of God in whatever way it could be communicated. We ought to be mirrors of the Apostles. In pastoral activities we seek to do “everything for everybody, in order to gather together all in Christ”, nourishing zeal and enthusiasm in the ministerial activities that we are called to accomplish.
Forming a religious community with the same goal, we strive to live the ideals of the first Christian apostolic community, that is: “to be of single heart and soul”. Therefore, we seek the concord and the communion of life in all we do. As in our early apostolate, we seek the spiritual well-being of the members of our own religious community. Sensitive to the pressing problems of God’s people and the society, we develop pastoral activities in accord with the local bishop of the and by immersing ourselves in the diocesan pastoral plan.
In order to better accomplish our vocation, we make ourselves available to the service of the local bishop, the Clergy and the other members of the local Church. We are ready to answer the requests of bishops in accord with our own ministries especially the preaching the Word of God and attending to the needs of the places where we are called to evangelize while considering the number of members in the Congregation.
We are dedicated in a particular way to the instruction of the youth, the preaching of retreats and popular missions, the assistance to Clergy. St. Gaspar wanted the members of the Congregation as a kind of “flying squad”, all well prepared in the most diverse of the human and theologian knowledge. One of our pastoral characteristics is mobility. It leads us to avoid staying fixed in activities or regions in which we carry out our ministries for a long time. We have to serve the Church of Jesus Christ also beyond our home country.
Furthermore, we Stigmatines ought to pay close attention to the dynamics of evangelization that the Holy Spirit, along with the signs of the times, prompts as actual, opportune and urgent for the good of the Reign of God, especially the those concerning the poor, the marginalized, the sick and all who live in want in the areas of evangelization.
The Congregation is formed by priests, permanent deacons and brothers.
The center of Bertonian spirituality is the following of Jesus Christ, Who, called by His Father, accepted the human condition. The preaching of St. Gaspar is a testimony of his great love for the person of Jesus Christ, in a particular way for living together in a community and for his kindness in welcoming people. Fr. Bertoni sought to imitate Jesus Christ, particularly during his illness which he bore with him since after his priestly ordination until his death. The Crucified Jesus was his example and strength during the terrible moments of his sufferings.
More over, every Friday afternoon in the Church of the Stimmate, Fr. Bertoni and his religious community directed a devotion to the Passion of the Lord. It’s a half of an hour meditation and recitation of the novena to the the Five Wounds of Jesus Christ. It was the only weekly prayer in the Church which Fr. Bertoni reserved to himself. For this special devotion he prepared the meditations himself for as long as his health permitted him to do so. Later on, the feast of the Five Wounds began to be celebrated in the Church.
Following the footsteps of our founder, we Stigmatines seek to live the mystery of the Sacred Stigmata of Jesus Christ as a sign and remembrance of the Easter mystery with its two meanings of suffering and victory. We listen to the appeal of Jesus Christ to contemplate the stigmata of His Passion retained after His Resurrection and from it we got – as the Apostles did – the richness of faith, love and hope.
St. Gaspar Bertoni was a man of profound dedication to prayer and communion with God. He insisted to the members of this Congregation to keep permanently the presence of God and the conviction to realize His plans. He put the Congregation under the patronage of the Holy Spouses Mary and Joseph, who he indicated as models of intimate communion with Jesus Christ. Mary and Joseph are lived examples of the abandonment in God’s hands, leaving the Father with His inspirations and purposes, to lead their lives.
In following the examples of St. Gaspar and the Holy Spouses, we Stigmatines developed a spirituality based on the abandonment to God’s plans, seeking to distinguish even in the most difficult circumstances the signs of the Divine action, but, never to precede it. To St. Gaspar Bertoni, it is necessary to cultivate total confidence in God and to grow in it as He is Who showed us what to do, how to do and when to act upon it.
By Fr. José Luiz Nemes, CSS (former Superior General), in 2002.