Religious brothers have been a part of the fabric of the Viatorian Community, since its
founding in 1831, when Fr. Louis Querbes envisioned a congregation of catechists, who would teach Christian doctrine and be of service to the Holy Altar.
On Monday, the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, affirmed their importance, in a new document focused on the role of religious brothers in the life of the Church.
The document, entitled ‘Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church,’ was presented at a press conference by the head of the Congregation, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, and its secretary, Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo.
According to the
Vatican, religious make up about a fifth, or 20 percent of all male religious in the
Catholic Church today. However, among Viatorians in the Chicago Province, 28 percent are religious brothers.
Cardinal Braz de Aviz explained that the document addresses the identity of the religious brother in three ways: as the mystery of a gift received from God, as a communion of the gift shared and as a mission of the gift to be freely given away.
Overall, the document underlines the prophetic role of religious brothers, as well as that of consecrated women or sisters who similarly dedicate their lives to God.
Since that “vocation of religious men and women is not always well understood and appreciated within the Church,” the document says it hopes to shed light on the value and vital role that such people play in reflecting the face of Jesus.
Following the publication of the Vatican document, a celebration was planned to acknowledge the importance of religious brothers, worldwide. Consequently, the inaugural Religious Brothers’ Day took place May 1, 2017, on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.