I know you will forgive me if I begin this letter by talking about the events of April 30, 2022, in Milan where three Missionaries and I were fortunate enough to be present for the Beatification of our founder, Armida Barelli (1882-1952). The Mass and ceremonies were rich, glorious, moving – all at the same time. There were two “beati” at this Mass: Armida Barelli and a young Milanese priest, Father Mario Ciceri.
The entire city of Milan appeared to be engaged in this event as the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, which Barelli founded along with Father Agostino Gemelli, OFM, held conferences, discussion groups, and displays over the importance of this incredible woman who had worked so hard for the promotion of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Catholic Action for Feminine Youth in Italy, the founding of the Catholic Uni- versity of Milan, and of course founding the Secular Institute of Missionaries of the
Kingship of Christ.
Influential in the education of women before, during, and after the first and second World Wars, Armida’s example was commended by Pope Francis in a preface to a new book he wrote saying she “fostered the conscious participation of women in social and political life, making a decisive contribution to the establishment of de- mocracy in Italy.”
This came about as she had worked tirelessly at the prompting of the Cardinal at the time for Milan, forming the National Girls Youth of Catholic Action and for more than three decades, helped women to be formed in a “Eucharistic spirituality and to recognize their equal baptismal dignity with men.” She mobilized thousands of young women, helping them to find their baptismal dignity and substantial freedom with recognition of equal dignity with men all rooted in a Eucharistic spirituality. She also, with Father Agostino Gemelli, founded the Catholic University of the Sa- cred Heart.
Armida Barelli’s missionary efforts in promoting love of the Sacred Heart can be
fostered by us today in deepening our prayer life and spending more time before the
Blessed Sacrament, the source of all graces and mercy. Certainly as we use the
warmer weather to renew and re-energize our bodies and spirits, an hour spent regularly
with the Blessed Sacrament will afford the opportunity for the graces that will be poured out on us and inspire us to dedicate ourselves more intensely to the spreading of the Kingdom in ways small and large with all whom we meet. (There are more details about Armida Barelli in an article later in this issue.)
Happy summer to all, Sue Larkin