The Community of Jesus
Professor Matteo Calisi
Professor Matteo Calisi, born in Bari (Italy) on 11th February 1958, is married to Giovanna De Pascalis and they have two sons, Daniele and Francesco. Matteo studied Music at the Conservatoire, and Theology and Byzantine Studies at the Ecumenical Faculty of Bari, his home town.
At the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) Pope John XXIII had led the Church in praying for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, “Lord, renew your wonders in this our day as by a new Pentecost”. The Council called all Catholics to commit to work for the unity of Christians. In 1975 Pope Paul VI went on to say that the experience of the New Pentecost was a new opportunity for the Church and was not an option for Christians. It is against this backcloth that Matteo’s role in charismatic renewal should be seen.
Having been involved in Roman Catholic charismatic renewal since the 1970s, Matteo, together with his wife, founded the Community of Jesus in May 1983. The Community is committed to a three-fold ministry of worship, the reconciliation of Christians, and evangelism. It was significantly shaped by input into Matteo’s life from two men, Cardinal Suenens and David du Plessis.
At Rimini in 1978 Matteo met Cardinal Suenens, one of four moderators of the Second Vatican Council and a supporter of the renewal movement. Through further meetings at the Vatican their friendship developed and the Cardinal encouraged Matteo to start the Community of Jesus, with its particular emphasis on unity and reconciliation within the Body of Christ. He visited the infant Community later that same year.
With the encouragement of Cardinal Suenens, Pope John XXIII had invited David du Plessis, a Pentecostal minister with a passion for the unity of the Church, to attend the Second Vatican Council. In May 1981 Matteo attended an international conference in Rome at which David du Plessis was one of the speakers. As Matteo talked with David, a defining moment took place which was to set the direction for Matteo’s future ministry. The minister took off his own lapel badge depicting – “70 x 7” – a reference to Jesus’ words on the need to forgive, and pinned this onto Matteo, saying “My dear son, may you become an ambassador of reconciliation.”
Over the following years this call on Matteo’s life has been acknowledged by the Vatican and also recognised by many leaders within other denominations. Supported by the Community of Jesus, the work of reconciliation has led him to minister in an international context, co-operating with many ecumenical organisations which include:
• Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS) in the USA
• Conversation between Roman Catholic and Non-denominational Christians, sponsored by Centro Pro-Unione in Rome
• Towards Jerusalem Council II (TJCII) for the dialogue between Messianic Jews and Christians
• International Charismatic Consultation (ICC)
• Communion of Renewed Evangelicals and Catholics in the Holy Spirit (CRECES) in Argentina
• Meeting of Christians in search of Unity and Holiness (ENCRISTUS) Brazil
Within the Roman Catholic setting Matteo has served as Vice-President of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) and President of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships (CFCCCF). On the 11th March 2008 he was appointed as a Member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Matteo continues to be encouraged in the work of reconciliation by Pope Francis.