Work of the Jesus the High Priest - Family of Mary

The institute consists of two branches: the association Pro Deo et Fratribus - Family of Mary and the Work of Jesus the High Priest (Opus J.S.S.). which collaborate organically in the apostolic works entrusted to them.

On March 25, 1995, the Pontifical Council for the Laity approved Pro Deo et Fratribus - Family of Mary as a private association of the faithful of pontifical right, whose statutes were definitively approved on March 25, 2004. The association Pro Deo et Fratribus - Family of Mary is composed of brothers and sisters.

The Work of Jesus the High Priest (Opus J.S.S.), is an international and public clerical association of pontifical right with the faculty of incardination erected by the Congregation for the Clergy by decree on May 22, 2008.

The clerics of the Work of Jesus the High Priest strive to exercise their service for the Kingdom of God by looking to Jesus the High Priest and following His example.

In union with the Pope, the Work aims to offer spiritual aid to the local Churches especially where the need to sustain and spread the faith is greatest; it engages in an ecumenical spirit in promoting dialogue with other Christian denominations; it wishes to witness to God’s concern especially in the service of the poorest, in collaboration with men and women of good will.

The formation of the seminarians consists of at least two years of minor seminary followed by philosophical and theological studies. Seminarians, at appropriate times, are engaged in pastoral and missionary experiences in the houses of the institute. Full incorporation into the Work of Jesus the High Priest occurs with the diaconate ordination.

Lay brothers, who assist priests in their pastoral commitments, receive a formation consisting of two years of minor seminary and a course of ecclesiastical or civil studies, according to their abilities and inclinations, in view of the service they will render.

The innermost essence of the sisters’ vocation in the Family of Mary is giving their lives to God for the sanctification of priests. They realize it above all by living a deep life of prayer, offering their daily service for this intention and devoting themselves to the apostolic works of the institute entrusted to them by the bishops.

The sisters’ education and formation includes two years devoted to deepening the fundamentals of consecrated life; these are followed by a course of ecclesiastical or civil formation according to each one’s abilities and inclinations, especially in view of the apostolate to which she will devote herself.

At the end of formation, the brothers and sisters are fully incorporated into the association Pro Deo et Fratribus - Family of Mary with the solemn Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary before the bishop, through which they express their total donation to Christ by committing themselves to a life of Christian perfection according to the evangelical counsels.

The spirituality draws its strength from the Word of God especially through Lectio Divina, the prayer of the Church and sacramental and liturgical life. The various houses have daily Eucharistic adoration, foster a filial devotion to Our Lady and cultivate a knowledge of the history of the Church through the witness and example of the saints.

Priests work in various local Churches in faithful cooperation with the bishops, carrying out their apostolate according to their assigned task. They are assisted in their activities by the lay brothers and sisters.

Their apostolate and mission activity is exercised according to the mandate given by the bishops: in preaching, in the administration of the Sacraments and the ministries of consolation, especially sacramental reconciliation and spiritual accompaniment; in assuming parochial care; in teaching and directing works for education, formation and charity; in caring for children, youth and the elderly; in accompanying families and in charitable assistance especially in mission territories.

The brothers and sisters, in addition to assisting the priests, are engaged in diverse activities, such as serving in the administrative offices of the Work of Jesus the High Priest and Pro Deo et Fratribus - Family of Mary and directing and managing works, whose purpose is to support the needs and mission of the institute.

The Work of Jesus the High Priest and Pro Deo et Fratribus - Family of Mary relate their activities to friends and benefactors through the Triumph of the Heart magazine.

The institute is currently present in Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Holland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uruguay and the United States.

By a decree of the Dicastery for the Clergy and Seminaries dated June 5, 2022, approved by Pope Francis in a specific form, the governance of the Work of Jesus the High Priest and Pro Deo et Fratribus - Family of Mary was entrusted to a plenipotentiary pontifical commissioner in the person of Most Reverend Bishop Daniele Libanori SJ assisted by a co-commissioner in the person of Sr. Katarína Krištofová SDR. At the same time, the Dicastery for Clergy and Seminaries ordered an inquiry into the superior of the institute and the cessation of all his contact with the members.

The task entrusted to them, according to the decree of appointment, is defined as follows: “1. Assume the governance of the clerical association entitled Work of Jesus the High Priest and the association Pro Deo et Fratribus - Family of Mary; 2. Verify the soundness of the elements and conclusions that emerged from the apostolic visitation and its concluding report; 3. Determine, in collaboration with this Dicastery, possible future paths for the aforementioned associations Work of Jesus the High Priest and Pro Deo et Fratribus - Family of Mary; 4. Exercise thoughtful attention to the members of the associations, promoting and sustaining effective communion through dialogue appropriate to the purpose of the assignment.”

The apostolic visitation (2021-2022) of the Work of Jesus the High Priest and Pro Deo et Fratribus - Family of Mary disclosed “with clarity, among other elements: 1. the need to review the exercise of authority, which must be joined to truth, in order to respect conscience; 2. the need to preserve the enthusiasm of the faith of the youth, missionary zeal, and apostolic dynamism, by means of adequate formation.”

The “path of purification” that awaited the Work of Jesus the High Priest and Pro Deo et Fratribus - Family of Mary also entailed “a sincere confrontation with those inside and outside both institutes who allegedly have been victims of spiritual abuses, of the manipulations and the system of power put in place by the founder.”

The appointment of a commissioner and a co-commissioner should be understood as an opportunity for the institute for a profound renewal and as a call to complete the transition from the founding phase to a more institutional phase, adapting the governance structures to the needs that have matured with its growth and diffusion.

The action of the commissioners therefore is aimed at fostering in the members of the institute a mature autonomy of judgment and the consolidation of spirituality, to be based more on sound tradition and the sure Magisterium of the Church. It is thus a process of revising formation, ensuring first of all a clear distinction between the function of governance and spiritual accompaniment.

Finally, it appeared necessary to intervene to ensure an economic structure capable of sustaining those in formation, assisting elderly and sick members as well as supporting the missions.

On the part of the institute, the decision of the Dicastery for the Clergy and Seminaries was welcomed with openness and a sincere willingness to cooperate in order to achieve the stated goals.

For two years now, both PDF-FM and OJSS have been engaged in a renewal process. The Communities have been asked to apply the new norms of Directories intended to organize liturgical life and prayer, management of the economy and fraternal life. There will be verification of the objectives in the course of the year.

In September 2023, the “Novitiate” for the Sisters of Pro Deo et Fratribus-Family of Mary began in Rome at the Catacombs of Priscilla. Despite the commitment of the people, upon careful examination of those who had the responsibility for formation, it became clear that the expected results had not been achieved. Therefore, on February 17, 2024, it was decided to end this formation project.

Original text: Italian (this is a translation).