The World of Spiritans
The Spiritan Charism
The charism of a religious congregation refers to its founding vision. Inspired by Christian faith, the founder felt called to respond to a particular need of the Church and society of his or her time. The charism is God’s gift to that individual, and to the group he or she gathered together to answer this call to serve a section of God’s people in special need.
Thus Claude Poullart des Places felt called by God to leave aside a promising legal career and a comfortable lifestyle in order to found a community dedicated to educating poor seminarians in 18th century France. These in turn would serve the poor and the marginalized in rural France and elsewhere, especially in places where the Church had difficulty in finding workers.
Therefore, the charism of a particular congregation refers to:
- its distinctive spirit, the particular way in which it feels called by God to live the Gospel message;
- the characteristic manner in which its members perceive and relate to the world in which they live;
- the ethos which marks its internal life and the works that it undertakes.
Meeting the Challenge of Creative Fidelity
The perennial challenge for every congregation is to live in creative fidelity to the founding vision, to be true to the original inspiration and intuitions of the founder, within the changing circumstances of the contemporary world.
Today we realize that the charism of a religious congregation is not confined to its professed members but is shared by laypeople, single and married, who feel drawn by the same vision, and who are working throughout the world.
Rule of Life
Drawing on the original intuitions and inspiration of its founders and on its lived tradition over the past 300 years, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit expresses its charism in its current Rule of Life:
The evangelization of the “poor” (cf. Lk 4:18) is our purpose.
In faithfulness to the intuitions of our Founders, to their experiences and to the living tradition of our Congregation, we give preference to an apostolate that takes us to:
- those who have not yet heard the Gospel message or those who have scarcely heard it;
- those oppressed and most disadvantaged, as a group or as individuals;
- places where the Church has difficulty in finding workers.
We count the following as constitutive parts of our mission of evangelization: the “integral liberation” of people, action for justice and peace and participation in development. It follows that we must make ourselves “the advocates, the supporters and the defenders of the weak and the little ones against all who oppress them” (Rule of 1849).
We consider the following to be especially important tasks for our times:
- youth apostolate, because the present situation of young people is crying out more than ever for social and educational works;
- work with refugees, with immigrants and with those on the margins of society.
Education, both formal and informal, is an integral part of our mission of evangelization.
We are dedicated to the Holy Spirit, author of all holiness and “source of the apostolic spirit.” We place ourselves under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who was filled beyond measure by the same Spirit “with the fullness of holiness and apostolic zeal."