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 As a pontifical clerical religious Institute, founded by St. Hannibal Mary Di Francia (1851-1927), the Congregation of the Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus (RCJ) finds its spirituality in the words of Jesus in the Gospel “The harvest is rich but the workers are few. Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that He may send workers into His harvest" (Mt.9:37-38/Lk.10:2).


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Message of Fr. Herman Abcede on the Feast of St. Hannibal




Message of Fr. Herman Abcede on the Feast of St. Hannibal Mary Di Francia

Fr. Di Francia Center of Studies

June 1, 2018



Do you want to know why you are so attractive? Do you wonder why people would come to you as if you are a public figure or a celebrity? Do you realize that when the people see you, they feel so happy, encouraged, and hopeful, aside from the good looks you have?


I believe, you and all of us, Priests and Religious, are attractive to people because they expect us to magnify God to the people we meet. That is why they keep saying, “Brother or Father, please pray for me…” because they expect us to be closer to God, bring hope to them and bring God closer to them.



Our Gospel, on this feast of St. Hannibal Mary Di Francia, presents Jesus doing three things: teaching, proclaiming and healing. The three actions reveal the God who has been caring and compassionate. Jesus is proclaiming God’s kingdom and message. He teaches God’s lesson. And He brings a healing God in their midst. 


In the life and works of our Founder, we see that St. Hannibal heralded the coming of Jesus in the life of the poor people in the Avignone quarter, he taught them of God and Christianity with his life, he came into their midst to bring healing to people who have been longing for God. His presence, like the presence of Jesus, magnified God in their midst. 


The world or the society where we are present challenges us religious to be relevant. In a society which is predominantly poor how can we become relevant or significant? I believe that the vows that we profess are urging us to be agents of change and communion in the Church and in the Society. They impel us to opt for the promotion of the poor, and to be committed to a simple life-style. In a way the commitments we are called to embody should eventually mold us to be men of prayer and agents of the new evangelization.


My dear brothers, we have a responsibility before the people of God! The call to magnify and bring God’s presence to others is all the more needed today. But it cannot happen when you are not immersed in God himself. Connect to God so that you can let other connect to God also. Learn from Jesus himself and from our Holy Founder, St. Hannibal. They are frequently connected to God in prayer. They become authentic proclaimer, teacher and healer because they are connected to the source.


In fact the logic of the gospel passage today reminds us that after teaching, proclaiming and healing, the Lord saw the crowd and felt compassion, for they are like sheep without a shepherd. So the Lord himself commanded them to pray to the Lord of the Harvest for more people to gather in the harvest. 


Fr. Hannibal got the point of the Lord, the secret and the answer to the predicament. In front of the immense needs, in front of the poverty of the situation, in front of many abandoned sheep without a shepherd, it was revealed to him the ROGATE, the answer to the need.


Why do you need to BEG or PRAY? I think it is not only because we need, and God commanded it. It is also because when you beg or ask for laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, you are first of all challenged to be a good and holy worker or laborer yourself of the Lord. You will feel the challenge to be teacher, proclaimer and healer and eventually magnifier of God to others, specially to those who are in need.


As Religious, we become a source of hope for the people because they know that with our profession of vows, particularly the 4thvow of the ROGATE, they feel that God continues to be faithful and caring for his people. In this way, our biblical theme in this celebration: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, he is faithful, forever!”, will continue to reverberate all the more clearly.


This is it. People are attracted to you, not because you are handsome or appealing, but because they believe you are close to Jesus, and you magnify God to others. You become what you pray for.


Congratulations! Best wishes and be assured of my prayers.



Fr. Herman Abcede, RCJ


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