A PLACE CALLED LIGUORI

We found a place called Liguori.

But before we talk about this place, let’s first talk of how it all began with Alphonsus’ intuitions. We know the centrality that the proclamation of the Gospel has in our charism and we are familiar with the simple way Alphonsus chose to announce the Gospel to the simple people. We also remember his creativity of means to make this announcement effective. That’s why today we have songs, paintings and dozens of books written by Alphonsus, with the main purpose of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus. His goal was to reach each and everyone, especially the most abandoned.

It was in this spirit that in 1911, a group of Redemptorist seminarians based on Wisconsin decided to draw inspiration from this abundant source and started writing and publishing a magazine to the family: The Autocrat. As the magazine began making its name, they decided to change it, so that the Italian brothers could pronounce it too. ‘Liguorian’ was its new title. Step by step it began to spread around the country and became the best-known Catholic magazine in the United States, thanks to the work of our preaching missionaries. The “Roadmen”.

When, in 1947, Redemptorists began a new missionary presence a few miles from Saint Louis, the magazine and all the materials and equipment involved in its production tagged along. When the authorities required a zip code, our confrere, Father Donald Miller (who was among the members of the first team) eventually founded a new town: 63057, Liguori, Missouri. The name of this place.

This is where Liguori Publications is headquartered today. One of the hallmarks of Redemptorists in this country. With the generous readiness of Father Byron Miller and the lay missionary Wendy Barnes, we were able to visit this special place, full of history and meaning. The team today is smaller than it once was, but it is still formed by confreres and lay people and keeps publishing the magazine, born in 1911, 10 times a year, as well as books, pamphlets and other printed material that can help parishes and people grow and mature their faith. One of the ever-present intuitions is that preaching must use simple language, a language that everyone can understand. And it must reach the most abandoned. In this line of thought a significant number of books in Spanish, to serve the numerous Hispanic communities in the US, are also published here.

We were talking to Byron and Wendy about today’s evangelization challenges. About the inevitable adjustments that need to be made, perfectly aware that times have changed. We live in different times. Not better, or worse, but different. We agreed on the urgency of training our eyes to make a good reading of the signs of the times.

Within this frame of mind, there is a very beautiful job that is also being done by our brothers called “Scrupulous Anonymous“. It consists of a newsletter that was wrought out from the experience that many of our confreres have of the confessional, in which they listen to many people who suffer from scruples. As most of us know, this is a feature inscribed in our history; Alphonsus suffered from scruples most of his life, sometimes facing severe spells. Combining tradition with the interpretation of present events, they have created this free publication that aims to answer some questions related to sin that plague many people: evil thoughts, sexuality, self-esteem, prayer… Simply put, it is a place where questions can be asked freely and where there is a sincere and merciful commitment to alleviate the burden of sin and doubt.

We found a place called Liguori.

This is a place where past and present come together to make room for the future. This reality struck us as self-evident at Liguori Publications, but for us it was even more tangible at St. Clement Health Care Center, which is also located in Liguori. The Health Care Center is not just a house that provides health care. It is a true Redemptorist House. There live many old confreres, most of them demanding permanent health care. One could easily be tented to think of it with a wrong assumption: that in this place one would only find a sad or decaying atmosphere, but that’s not what we’ve found there! It was a beautiful house! A house with joy and a house with life! The care and respect for the confreres showed by all professionals who work there was palpable.

There we found genuine fraternity and good humour among all the confreres. Men who gave their lives for the Mission now enjoy a much-deserved time of rest. But they are still missionaries! Father Gregory Mayers told us, as we walked to the room of one of the confreres in his final days of his earthly life, that everyone in the house willingly pays a visit to him a few times a day. They are near, they pray, they bless him. “No one dies alone here,” Gregory told us. He stressed it as a fundamental law accepted by everyone in the house. A missionary house. This can also be sensed in the conversations they have; the way they do things and the way they look at the world and how they see the future of the Congregation… It is the typical attitude of those who have not stopped dreaming.

We found a place called Liguori.

This is a place where our Redemptoristine sisters live too. In their house they pray and celebrate every day. As one who has well-established priorities. They welcome you like someone who enjoys being visited. And they talk about the world as if they see it through special lenses.

We found a place called Liguori, a place that came to life because it was dreamt by some and carried out by the dream of others. But always under the same charism and mission of its origins: to announce the Good News of Jesus.

We found a place called Liguori, and if it depended on us, we would still be there.

We’ll see you around,

Zé ku Teresa
LMMHR

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