Pope Francis receives members of ANSPI in the Vatican  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

By Linda Bordoni

Dec 8 2023

Known simply as ANSPI, the National Association San Paolo Italia is a Catholic organization that provides a reference point throughout Italy for groups and oratories for the formation of young people.

Receiving ANSPI representatives in audience in the Vatican on Thursday, as the association celebrates its 60th anniversary, Pope Francis recalled its roots and the vision of its founder, Monsignor Battista Belloli who was supported by the then Archbishop Montini, who became Pope Saint Paul VI.

Named after the apostle Paul, ANSPI was established in 1963, and Monsignor Belloli’s prophetic vision aimed to align Oratorian pastoral care with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, emphasizing the contribution of the laity and shaping integral education.

Thus, the Pope encouraged ANSPI to courageously continue Monsignor Belloli’s visionary project, urging members to continue to bring creativity to its ongoing work.

Integral education

In a world shattered by violence, oppression, and hatred, Pope Francis called on ANSPI not to waver in its commitment to education, highlighting the importance of supporting families and communicating the need for fraternity.

“Your recreational, cultural, and artistic proposals are always aimed at the integral education of children and young people. We must care for the whole person, in all dimensions: emotional, psychological, spiritual, intellectual, and physical,” he said.

Quoting Saint John Bosco, the Pope spoke of the need to form “good Christians and honest citizens,” recognizing that the positive or negative future of society depends on the quality of education.

Network of collaboration

Quoting the African proverb, “To educate a child takes an entire village,” the Pope underscored the importance of collaboration to form mature individuals capable of overcoming divisions and reconstructing a fabric of relationships for a more fraternal humanity.

In the spirit of collaboration, the Pope praised the role of ANSPI’s network of oratories and clubs in supporting families. He commended the activities, such as summer programs and after-school initiatives, for contributing to the well-being of citizens in different territories.

“Your realities are ‘bridges’ with families, with the territory, with the ecclesial community, and with society. Keep the doors open, but above all, arms and hearts: it is not easy, but we know that the other is always a richness to be cherished and valued,” the Pope said.

Expressing gratitude for ANSPI’s commitment to providing spaces for sharing and joy, the Pope emphasized the vital role of joy as the greatest medicine. Quoting Saint Philip Neri, he remarked, “Be joyful, be joyful,” and he reminded those present that Christians cannot be sad, as the Gospel is a message of joy, hope, light, and salvation. – Vatican News