In today’s reading at Mass from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians the apostle tells them to remember those who brought them to faith. The gospel came to them, not in words alone, but through holy people.
Today, the Passionists remember one of their holy people, Blessed Dominic Barberi, born in Viterbo, Italy, in 1792. He was devoted to the cause of Christian unity and in 1842 went to England with a dream of bringing the English church and the Catholic church together as one.
He received John Henry Newman, the great Oxford scholar, into the Catholic church. Newman admired the zeal and humility of this holy man.
Though he never mastered the English language, Dominic preached tirelessly throughout England, especially to poor immigrants coming into the country to work in factories built during the Industrial Revolution.
Before coming to England, Dominic wrote to the scholars of Oxford about his dream of a united church:
“The time will surely come when we shall all with one voice glorify God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. That time is not far distant. We shall see it with our own eyes. I feel this hope in the depths of my soul. In the meantime, let us do penance in sackcloth and ashes, as we await the blessed hope. Not only the French, but also the Italians, Spaniards, Germans and all other Catholics join you in this. With you they hope, with you they long for the day when it will be possible to embrace one another as brothers and sisters and to be gathered into one fold under one shepherd. Let there be one fold and one shepherd soon! Amen. Amen.”
Still a dream to believe in and work for.