The joy of knowing St Annibale

St Annibale

St Annibale

Every time we share the life and spirituality of St Annibale Maria Di Francia with others, or we read and reflect upon his writings, it is for me a joy to know him more and more.  I feel like there is a fire burning in my heart, ardently desiring and praying to God to be like him.  It is a challenge for me and an ongoing learning of what St Paul said to his disciples of Corinth: “Imitate me, just as I imitate Jesus” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

St Annibale is my inspiration.  He keeps me moving on, particularly when I see that to follow Jesus sometimes means to suffer.  I feel his presence, his protection and his example.  He is not only a Padre to me but also a friend.  In my everyday journey, little by little, I am beginning to understand the meaning of love and compassion towards the orphans, the poor, the aged and the sick… so often neglected; and the commitment of praying for more holy labourers.  This becomes my life.

I love my Padre and I am happy and proud to be one of his spiritual children, continuing the mission – ROGATE – entrusted to him.  It was God’s blessing to bring me here to this congregation of the Daughters of Divine Zeal (FDZ), and being introduced to the FDZ family.

I thank and praise the Lord with all my life!


St Annibale’s Feast Day – Invitation

St Annibale Feast Day Invitation
St Annibale died on 01 June 1927 in Messina, Italy.  You are invited to a Eucharistic Celebration for his Feast Day:

Celebrant: Fr Robin Koning sj

When: Saturday 06 June at 4:30pm
FDZ Chapel, 311 Church Street, Richmond (enter via Brougham Street)

Light refreshments after the Mass

RSVP: Contact us by Sunday 31 May 2015

I go to Him

Jesus ascends to heaven

Therefore Jesus said, “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. (John 7:33)

This Sunday (17 May 2015) is the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus into heaven.  The celebration of this feast gives us meaning to journey onwards throughout the day, challenged to keep our gaze intently upon Jesus.

A few years ago we had a Marian monthly initiative to go every Sunday to visit a Church or Sanctuary dedicated to Mary so we visited and participated in the Holy Eucharist at the Our Lady of Peace Shrine, a place where we experienced a great silence, and a prayerful atmosphere, despite the noise that surrounded the building which was situated in an open place in Edsa, in busy metropolitan Manila.  It was a privilege to be with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and recall when He spoke those words of comfort and promise: “Courage! I will be with you always until the end of time.” (Matthew 28:20), just like on the day of His Ascension to His disciples.

Elvira fdz and Cielo fdz | Image courtesy of

See Also: Ascension Day

My own Magnificat

Sr Cora making her final vows
O, Loving Father, so immense is your love
So far beyond my own understanding!
That it ignites my whole being to glorify and praise you.
That my heart leaps up and echoes the joy
To thank you for all the blessings you have abundantly
And generously bestowed upon me.

Your faithful and merciful love
Reaches beyond heaven and earth
It enlightens my heart
To continue gazing upon you.
In spite of all my frailty and weaknesses
You are there patiently accepting me
Never to leave me alone.

You continue revealing yourself
From generation to generation
Getting involved in our day to day ordinary activities
O, this is how much you love us tirelessly
Taking initiatives creatively
Just to reveal yourself how much you care
And love us tenderly.

My Father, what more can I ask
I have everything gained from your love.
I have experienced a spark of your goodness
And yet I feel overwhelmed!
I have found you as the only treasure!

Then, once again, Father, together with Jesus of the Rogate
And Mary, the first Daughter of Divine Zeal
I unite my Fiat as my own expression of joy and thanksgiving!

Sr Cielo fdz

Rogate – still a tremendous challenge

Before delving into the depths of our “Rogationist” calling, it is good to start by talking about the originator, the discovered, the explorer of the Rogate.  He is none other than our beloved St Annibale Maria Di Francia.  I realise its importance upon knowing and understanding his life; everything for him had its starting and its ending from the Rogate, the life-motive of his existence.

Saint Pope John Paul II, in his homily during our Father Founder’s beatification said: “God in every period of history raised in the Church particular persons to be as models to the people of God”.

St Annibale was one of them for our times… he was gifted with the understanding of that message of Jesus: “Rogate – Pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9:35-37).  It is simply enough to glance upon St Annibale’s life and see how it was fully lived in view of the Rogate, for the Rogate and in the Rogate.  It was described as “the reason of his life, the prevalent motive of his writings, the light of his ways, the star of this thought, the sun of his life… he was born for the ROGATE!”

We ask: what made him so?  The answer we find: it was a pure gift of God and surely because of his cooperation, as we know, grace works in nature.  Because of his openness, God gave St Annibale eyes to see the way Jesus saw the crowd of His time, with the same compassion He had, when He was treading along the streets of Palestine…  St Annibale heard the anguish of souls crying and thirsting for God’s love and salvation, because he was able to enter into the Heart of Jesus and felt the same… therefore his entire life was strongly affected.

For St Annibale, there was only one infallible means to the crisis of humanity: ROGATE!  Pray for vocations according to the Heart of Jesus, filled with compassion/mercy for His kingdom.   Furthermore, St Annibale created all means to let his concern for vocations be known.  Even popes had seen him begging to make his prayer universal.  His neverending  enthusiasm for the increasing of holy vocations was expressed in all his writings addressed to bishops, priests, religious congregations and even to civil leaders – only let Rogate be known by all.  He never spared any moment to speak of the Rogate, never spared a single energy to spread the Rogate.

Why did he feel the urgent need to pray for holy vocations?  St Annibale was made able to see the abandoned and dejected crowd, “like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36) and found that the only remedy to save them was to obey the Lord’s command: “pray the Lord of the Harvest to send labourers…”  St Annibale understood also that Rogate is not complete without charity.  He expressed his charity by sparing the little ones from ruin: giving them proper care, education and basic needs.  He, for them, “lost everything” and chose to live the life of a poor person and a servant.  So doing, he expressed concretely how prayer is completed with the works of charity – that it is by holy and many labourers that salvation is made possible for all and consequently God’s kingdom is realised here on earth.

Vocations are felt as a need not only during the time of St Annibale but especially in our world today.  The harvest is getting larger and larger with the growing of wealth, loss of values, increasing confusion, lack of religious formation, etc.  We need apostles, pastors, good educators, honest workers, professionals.  We all need to have the same spirit of our Father Founder to carry on the mission of Rogate with the zeal that was his – to pray untiringly, begging the Lord throughout our whole lives to send many and holy vocations into the Church.

As our knowledge of St Annibale’s life, charism, and spirituality grows, we feel very much affected and we cannot remain insensible to the realities of our world today.  We hope and pray to grow in our desire to be imbued with the same spirit of our Spiritual Father so that our lives as Daughters of Divine Zeal will be filled with burning love and enthusiasm for the interests of the Heart of Jesus, carrying on the heritage that our Father Founder handed down to us.

We are made aware of this tremendous urgency in our different formative experiences.  Each event is a challenge to widen our horizons and be one with the suffering of the people we meet.  Rogate! Rogate! echoes in our hearts  Limited as we are, we can give the best in whatever we do by listening, speaking an encouraging word, and simply being there for another – letting them feel our presence.  This is to live Rogate, to let it firstly penetrate into our being, change our hearts with a more sensitive one, see all the events of each day as opportunities to be his labourers, begging for new holy vocations, for the perseverance of those who are living their consecration, for families grounded in God’s love and for all those who need our prayers.

Our total self-giving to God through the religious congregation of the Daughters of Divine Zeal is to model our lives on the life of our Father Founder, totally dedicated to God and our neighbour, especially the poor, the children, the abandoned, through the living of the ROGATE!

Sr Elvira fdz and Sr Cielo fdz

Abba, Father

It is good to read St Paul’s letter to the Galatians (Gal 4:6) which says that during our baptism:

Now because you are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts to cry out, “Abba! Father!”

God gives us His Spirit.  A Spirit who constantly calls out “Abba, Father!” in our hearts, the icon of a compassionate Father whom Jesus revealed particularly in His parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32).

Our Father prayer

Saint Pope John Paul II in his encyclical letter Dives in Misericordia gave us a clear understanding of the mystery of God’s mercy and compassion to His people.  What a privilege we have received!  The omnipotent and Holy God has adopted us as His own children and invites us to call Him “Abba, Father!”.  He is the God of tenderness, mercy and fidelity.  He is Abba – just as a child would call his/her father.  And this Abba calls us to return to Him, to claim Him once again as our only Father who knows very well what is good for us.  He calls us to claim once more our innocence and freedom as His children.  Yet this can only happen if we truly trust Him and humble ourselves before Him.  He is patiently watching and waiting for our coming back no matter how many times we turn away from Him.  His overflowing love knows only joy, His love is greater than our human hearts, greater than justice, greater than our sins.

Our Abba is always faithful to His Fatherhood even if many times we betray our dignity as daughters and sons of Him.  Even when His heart is broken by our departure, He never ceases loving us.  Every time we come to our senses and resolve to go back home to our Father, He offers us a new beginning, a new dawn of home to start a new life.  The challenge is for us to accept this image, this icon of the Father.  Like the prodigal son on his way home, we cannot imagine that we can totally be forgiven.  At times we expect to be treated like a “slave” hence we are hesitant to surrender ourselves absolutely to God’s care and love and to bury our faces in His loving embrace.

We remind ourselves that to receive forgiveness means to let God be God and let Him heal our wounds and be confident of the Father’s care and protection.  It is a constant and conscious choice that we have to make if we are true to our calling as daughters and sons of our Abba – our motherly Father.


Are we praying?

When I say “pray” I do not mean the formula prayers of our Father Founder, Saint Annibale Maria Di Francia, which we religiously repeat in our scheduled prayers at vespers every day.  Those prayers are the ‘heart prayers’ of our beloved Padre. How about you – have you made the prayer for vocations a part of your life, a part of the blood that is produced in your hearts?

FDZ Sisters in India, praying

FDZ Sisters in India Image source:


Vocations are becoming scarce, even within our own communities.  And yet we are the first ones who know very well the solution to this – PRAY.  That is the command we received or rather had entrusted to us!  Let us start being conscious of enfleshing that WORD within us.

Prayer for vocations has to be the blood pumping in the veins of our systems so that it will be the thought in our minds, the words in our speech, the oxygen we breathe – the compassion in our hearts.  In this way we can say, my interest is now the interest of the Compassionate Heart of Jesus for the harvest, ready for harvesting but with no one to harvest it.

Sr Concesa fdz


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