The roots of the journey in Faith of the Sodalitium stretch back to the end of the 60s, a time of crisis and many problems during which the basic structures of society where subject to critique and turmoil. This was, however, also a time of great expectations. The Church had just concluded the Second Vatican Council and, together with the wealth and renovation that this intense ecclesial experience communicated, the first signs of a serious crisis among the People of God -through no fault of Council itself- began to show.
This great gift of the Council also took expression in Latin America through the second Conference of Latin American Bishops in Medellin, 1968. This conference had a profound impact on the life of the Church in this southern continent and opened new horizons for ecclesial participation.
In light of these and other events, a search for answers marked the genesis of the Sodalitium. The founder, Luis Fernando Figari, began this search with a sense of dissatisfaction from the situation in the world, especially the injustice that burdened the poor and needy in Peru and Latin America, and with a desire to change this situation to forge a society where every person may live in freedom, according to their dignity as human beings. After looking to politics for answers, Luis Fernando began to believe that man’s problems have always been fundamentally religious at their roots.
Thus, in Luis Fernando’s journey of conversion and faith, he began to take more concrete strides to fulfill his calling, and, on December 8th, 1971, he founded the Sodalitum Christanae Vitae. The original intention of this fundamental step was to respond to the motions of the Holy Spirit who was leading laymen to respond to the universal call to holiness and take on a more active role in the apostolic mission.
During the years after 1971, the community added members that were formed, matured and strove to live out the consequences of their baptism in their daily lives experiencing a clear apostolic vocation. The initial intuitions of the founder also grew and developed into several retreat programs, spiritual exercises and experiences of fraternal life. Slowly, a community of consecrated laymen, priests and lay people called to married life, all committed to the apostolate of the Church, began taking shape.
This process of maturation occurred in communion with and under the supervision of several Bishops. Cardinal Juan Landázuri Ricketts, O.F.M., then archbishop of Lima and the primate of Peru, encouraged the young community and in 1977 approved the Sodalitium as a “pious society.”
There were many influences in the development of the Sodalitium’s spirituality: Bl. William Joseph Chaminade and the school of French spirituality, St. Ignatius of Loyola and other important proponents of the Spanish Reformation, the Cistercians and the Fathers of the Church. These various influences made rich contributions in the creation of a new spirituality impregnated by the experience of daily life.
With the years, the number of Sodalit apostolic initiatives grew. A dynamic style of apostolic work developed, attentive to the signs of the times and to the characteristics of the contemporary society. This apostolic work found an enthusiastic response in young people. The apostolic style of work is born from an experience of the Faith situated in a concrete context, but open to a universal dimension.
At this time, a faithful adherence to the social teachings of the Church led members of the Sodalitium to be truly committed to the poor, to respond to their situation in accordance with the Gospel. The Sodalitium, aware of various problems in the modern world (the rupture between daily life and faith and the threats from secularism and ideologies such as Marxism and liberalism) and seeing the importance of culture in people’s personal lives and society, committed itself to the evangelization of culture .
Under the influence of the Holy Spirit and accompanied by priests and bishops, the Sodalitium grew and matured and spread from Peru to several countries in the Americas and Europe.
In 1994, the Archbishop of Lima, Cardenal Augusto Vargas Alzamora S.J, gave the Sodalitium its approval as a diocesan Society of Apostolic Life. Three years later, on July 8th of 1997, St. John Paul II approved the society as a pontifical Society of Apostolic Life.