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Bro. Uwe Heisterhoff, SVD, shares poignantly his experience and work in the Catacombs of Domitilla.

In December 2011, Bro. Uwe an SVD German confrere working in the Region of Bolivia, was appointed by the then Superior General Antonio Pernia as the Director of Domitilla Catacombs.

He replaced Fr. Edvino Sicuro, SVD, who was then returning to Brazil. On April 30, 2018, Bro. Uwe completed his mission as Director of Domitilla Catacombs. Beginning May 1st, Fr. Thomas Kallanchira, SVD will take the place of Bro. Uwe as the director of the Catacombs. Thank you, Bro. Uwe for your service, patience and exemplary commitment to this task.

My first impressions, almost seven years ago when I first visited the Catacombs of Domitilla, were of the many testimonies of the Christian community of that time about the resurrection, and the cemetery as its backdrop.

For me, it is not possible to explain the catacombs without talking about the faith of the nascent church in Rome. In the Catacombs, we find the "Good Shepherd," who carries the sheep on his shoulders, and that is Christ who carries the soul of the deceased.

Then we have the anchor with the two fish, "anchored in the eternal port of God," which is a beautiful way to express the faith of this community. Finally, we will not miss the dove with the olive branch in its beak that returns to Noah's Ark, where everything is under water, bringing a message, "land that saves us from sight."

For the community, this means the "Eternal Land" which for Christians is within reach. There are also many paintings of the IV century from which a complete catechesis can be done. Many students from schools where they almost never encounter the Christian faith, consider their visits very constructive as they learned something about the faith that makes emerging Christianity in Rome more tangible.

Because of the celebration of the Eucharist near the tombs of the martyrs, the personal experience is very intense. Often the faithful come to us to tell us about it. The real faith of the early church until the resurrection is visible and experiential and this gives sense to our presence and work here as an international community. The guided tours of pilgrims are significant and fulfilling. Working in the Catacombs is not an easy task.

It requires proper planning and coordination with the personnel who guide the sometimes significant influx of tourists and pilgrim groups. It is a challenge to work in the Catacombs but we experience a lot of satisfaction when we see the people that we guided happy, inspired and moved by what they see. Looking back at all these years of service I often ask myself, how as an SVD group we can carry out this task with all its challenges and demands day in and day out and do it well.

Published in the newsletter “Arnoldus Nota” – May 2018

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The Feast Day of Saint Arnold Janssen - January 15

Message of Fr. Budi Kleden, Superior General for the Feast Day of Saint Arnold Janssen, January 15, 2021.
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Reflection of Spiritual Animation on the 18th GC Statement about Intercultural Living, No.31.32

Fr. Anselmo Ribeiro, SVD General Counselor shares his thoughts about the Intercultural Living in the context of the pandemic of COVID-19.  A production of  SVDMissionTV.  (for subtitles in English, activate “CC”).
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