VIRGO FLOS CARMELI
The Clerical Society of Apostolic Life Virgo Flos Carmeli consists of members of the Heralds of the Gospel who received the call to the priesthood after dozens of years of community life. It aims at a further blossoming of evangelizing activity, as outlined in Article III of its statutes:
“The Society is born as an expression of the charism of the Association Heralds of the Gospel, with the specificity of the priestly vocation, and expresses the intention of acting in unity of method and aim with the same association, particularly that the faithful, who feel attracted to this charism—especially those living in community—may receive ministerial assistance. (PC 10).”
There are also some members in this society, who without embracing the priestly vocation, have collaborated in its charism and mission for years in the various activities of apostolic and community life.
The origins of this group date back to the 1970s, when Monsignor João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, then a lay person, together with some Carmelite tertiaries of the sodality Virgo Flos Carmeli (Carmelites of the Old Observance), initiated an experience of community life in an old Benedictine monastery in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. They divided their time between prayer, study and periods of silence with the aim of obtaining better fruits of evangelization. To more firmly identify this life with the choice of celibacy and religious flexibility, they used, among themselves, the habit of Carmelite tertiaries, particularly for the recitation of the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception in the community chapel.
Not all of the first companions of Msgr. João Clá felt called to religious life. However, following his guidance, a group of young people established a Rule of Community Life in 1976, (commonly called an “Ordo”), which, over the years, developed and gave way to the Constitutions and Regulations now in place. Over subsequent years, following their example of community life, other groups of young people joined the first, not only in São Paulo, but also in other cities throughout Brazil and in other countries of the three Americas and Europe.
At the outset, the members of Virgo Flos Carmeli, consecrated themselves to the Blessed Virgin, according to the method of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, living out this surrender through the practice of celibacy, of submission of goods to be used by permission of the superior, by community life, silence, prayer, study, and by willingly undertaking works of apostolate.
This Consecration, renewed before the whole community in the chapel, marked the incorporation into the group of consecrated members, with the firm intention of assuming respect for the Rule of Community Life and with the manifest desire to proceed to take the vows of perfect obedience, integral chastity and complete poverty.
The emergence of priestly vocations formalized the desire to give adequate juridical form to this decades-long experience, as expressed in its statutes: “The Society aims to unite efforts toward evangelization and catechesis, collaborating in the “spreading of the Gospel throughout the world,” by means of fraternal life under the sign of charity, with the ardent desire to see that the supplication of the Church, by order of Jesus Christ, repeated for twenty centuries be accomplished: “adveniat regnum tuum.”
The first ordinations to the priesthood took place on June 15, 2005. One month later, the Most Reverend Lucio Angelo Renna, O.Carm., Bishop of Avezzano, signed the decree of erection of the Virgo Flos Carmeli, a diocesan public association.
At the first meeting for the election of the superior general, held on September 19, 2005, in the papal sacristy of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, the founder, Monsignor João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, was elected superior general.
On 21 April 2009, Pope Benedict XVI granted pontifical approval to “Virgo Flos Carmeli” by decree of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and on 3 February 2010 it received the definitive approval of its Constitutions from Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the same Congregation.
Today, the Clerical Society “Virgo Flos Carmeli” can be found throughout the world, present in all the activities of the Heralds of the Gospel. Primarily intended to provide spiritual assistance to the Heralds of the Gospel, Virgo Flos Carmeli naturally lends its services to bishops and parish priests, as far as it is able.
To obtain further information, please visit www.virgofloscarmeli.org
The Society of Apostolic Life Regina Virginum is formed of a group of female members of the Heralds of the Gospel living stably in community for over ten years in order to better carry out their mission of evangelization, as described in Article 1 of the Society’s statutes:
“Regina Virginum is a Society of Apostolic Life (…) formed by a group of members of the women’s branch of the Heralds of the Gospel – an international Private Association of Christ’s Faithful founded by Monsignor João Scognamiglio Clá Dias and recognized February 22, 2001 by the Pontifical Council for the Laity – who want to live in community seeking to ‘follow Christ with greater freedom and imitate Him more closely’ (Perfectae Caritatis 1) in order to better devote their lives to the service of the church.”
Although the origins of the group are much earlier, it was only in 1996 that dozens of young women took the definitive step to establish an institute of perfection by expressing the desire to preserve their virginity for love of Jesus and to live in community.
Under the constant guidance of Monsignor João Clá Dias, then still a laymen, a life in community began to take form with the election of superiors for the different houses. Everyone involved freely made the commitment to follow, with the appropriate adaptations, the rule of life of the male branch of the Heralds of the Gospel. The statutes express this in the following manner: “The society is born out of the expression of the charism of the Heralds of the Gospel as specifically applied to the consecrated life of women, in the manifestation of the will to work in common with the methods and for the goals of the aforementioned association, and by seeking to express the characteristics of proper of virginity and of the dignity of women in special way in a secularized world (Mulieris dignitatem 10, 20) , and ‘[b]y virtue of their dedication lived in fullness and in joy, consecrated women are called in a very special way to be signs of God’s tender love towards the human race and to be special witnesses to the mystery of the Church, Virgin, Bride and Mother’ (Vita Consecrata 57).“
By Christmas of 1998, twelve houses had been established with communities of young women living under a common rule in Brazil, Colombia, Canada and Guatemala.
In a solemn Mass celebrated in the Church of Our Lady of Brazil in São Paulo on August 15, 2002, the first group of nineteen young women renewed their consecration of love to Jesus through Mary according to the method of St. Louis de Montfort and they were ceremoniously vested with the habit at the hands of the founder of the Heralds of the Gospel.
On December 25, 2005, the Bishop of Campo Limpo, Brazil, the Most Reverend Emilio Pignoli, canonically erected Regina Virginum as a public association within the Church with the goal of eventually allowing it to develop into a society of apostolic life. Its purpose, drawn from decades of experience in community life, is defined in the constitutions:
“Inspired by the luminous teaching of Vatican II and collaborate in the mission of the Church, the society seeks ‘to penetrate and perfect the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel’ (Apostolicam Actuositatem 5), transmitting ‘the message of the Incarnate Word in terms which the world is able to understand’ (Evangelica Testificatio 9), particularly by the clear and attractive presentation of beauty – the splendour of truth and goodness – and by helping humanity to rediscover the sacrality of every creature, and, in a particular way, of every person, as the visible reflection of the invisible God (Romans 1:20), with the ardent desire to see realized this mission of the Church as mandated by Jesus Christ, and still repeated twenty centuries later: Adveniat regnum tuum! So that, in the words of the founder, ‘mankind fully obtains the effects of the shedding of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ’ (October 9, 2000), by ‘a change in ways of living, in mentality and in hearts’ (Evangelica Testificatio 52). Their ‘first duty… is to make visible the marvels wrought by God in the frail humanity of those who are called… [and to] bear witness to these marvels not so much in words as by the eloquent language of a transfigured life, capable of amazing the world’ (Vita Consecrata 20). Thus the search for the beauty of the Creator ‘impels [them] to care for the deformed image of God on the faces of their brothers and sisters…’ (Vita Consecrata 75), humiliated, frightened, anguished and tired by the influence of ‘contemporary culture, which is often very secularized and yet sensitive to the language of signs’ (Vita Consecrata 25).”
After formal canonical consultation with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Regina Virginum was erected as a society of apostolic life of diocesan right by the same Bishop of Campo Limpo, the Most Reverend Emilio Pignoli on December 25, 2006.
To obtain further information, please visit: www.reginavirginum.org.br