Pope Francis told Claretian Missionaries on Thursday that their work must always be rooted in contemplation.

Addressing participants in the community’s general chapter in Rome on Sept. 9, the pope underlined that prayer was the foundation of effective missionary work.

“You are missionaries: if you want your mission to be truly fruitful, you cannot separate your mission from contemplation and a life of intimacy with the Lord. If you want to be witnesses, you cannot cease being adorers,” he said, in a Spanish written text provided by the Holy See press office.

The XXVI General Chapter of the Claretian Missionaries -- officially known as the Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary -- is taking place from Aug. 15 to Sept. 12 with the motto “Rooted and audacious.”

On Aug. 30, the chapter re-elected Fr. Mathew Vattamattam as superior general of the religious community of priests and brothers founded in Spain in 1849 by St. Anthony Mary Claret.

The priest from the Indian state of Kerala was first elected head of the community in 2015.

In his written text, the pope challenged the community’s roughly 3,000 members worldwide to imitate their founder, who traveled on foot from mission to mission through his native Catalonia.

“Following the example of Fr. Claret, you cannot be mere spectators of reality. Take part in it, to transform the realities of sin that you find on the way,” the pope said.

“Do not be passive in the face of the dramas that many of our contemporaries live, but rather play your part in the struggle for human dignity and respect for the fundamental rights of the person.”

“Let yourselves be touched by the Word of God and the signs of the times, and in the light of the Word and the signs of the times reread your own history, your own charism, remembering that consecrated life is like water, if it does not flow it rots.”

Francis, the first Jesuit pope, urged Claretians to be bold and courageous.

“I hope, dear brothers, that this Chapter that you are about to conclude will help you to focus on the essential: Jesus, to place your security in Him and only in Him who is all good, the supreme good, the true security,” he said.

“I believe that this could be one of the best fruits of this pandemic that has called into question so many of our false securities.”

“I also hope that the Chapter has led you to focus on the essential elements that define consecrated life today: consecration, which values the relationship with God; fraternal life in community, which gives priority to an authentic relationship with our brothers; and mission, which leads you to go out, to become less self-centered in order to go out to meet others, especially the poor, to bring Jesus to them.”

The Vatican issued a definitive version of Pope Francis’ address on Sept. 10. In it, the pope emphasized the importance of maintaining a sense of humor in consecrated life.

“Please do not lose your sense of humor,” he urged the Claretians. “Know how to laugh in community, know how to make jokes, and laugh at the jokes told by others. Do not lose your sense of humor. A sense of humor is a grace of joy, and joy is a dimension of holiness.”