Priests Experience Holy Week Anew After Jerusalem Retreat
Father Michael Caridi took a Holy Land Retreat for Priests this year that brought the life, death and resurrection of Christ vividly to his mind.
“This was my first time in the
Holy Land, and the experience deepened my ability to understand Jesus my Lord,”
Father Caridi said during a guided tour of some of
The twice-yearly retreats are
organized by the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of
The program, which was conducted
in English, Italian and Spanish, combined study of the Scriptures with visits
to the places mentioned in the Bible —
The participants were also
personally greeted by the two highest ranking Church officials in the Holy Land:
Archbishop Michel Sabbah, the Latin patriarch of
“The goal of the retreat was to provide spiritual renewal, to refresh the vocation and the enthusiasm for the priestly ministry,” said Legionary Father John Solana, director of the Pontifical Institute. “Every human being must be renewed, and priests are no different.
“On the one hand, priests minister to many people, sometimes several thousand people, and the stress is very high,” he added.
Legionary Father Alfonso Corona, the retreat’s Vatican-based secretary and organizer, said, “Priests benefit from a time of peace and serenity with a priestly community that shares their goals. We started out as a diverse group of priests of different ages and nationalities — Americans, Canadians, Brazilians, Indonesians, Koreans — but by the end of the retreat we became a single family.”
While priests have the opportunity
to attend retreats in many parts of the world, “there is nothing like the
Father Daniel Vacca,
from the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., said that this, his first visit to the
“From now on, I’ll be able to
actually visualize the Bible,” he said. “I especially appreciated our time in
The pilgrimage to the Sea of
Galilee was also a
“When we took the boat across it was so easy to imagine that I was right there with Jesus,” he said. “His presence was overwhelming. We had just read the Gospel from Matthew (28:20), which says, ‘I will be with you always,’ and that is how I felt.”
Father Hauser said the
“I came here not only because it was an opportunity to do the pilgrimage but because the retreat was designed for spiritual renewal,” he said. “I very much felt the importance of asking God for his grace to reignite the energy and enthusiasm I had when I was newly ordained 25 years ago.”
The group’s visit to
“There is a grotto in
If anyone needed time for quiet
contemplation and prayer, it was Father Francis Xavier Savarimarithu,
the parish priest of Tamil Nadu, a southern section
“In our community, 150 families lost all of their possession in the tsunami, and one of the substations located on the shore was washed away. Three parishioners were killed,” Father Savarimarithu said. “It showed me that you cannot go against nature, and that life is not guaranteed.”
said he will never forget his visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in
“This retreat,” he said, “reminded me that there is a fraternal bond of support among priests and that we are united in spirituality.”
writes from Jerusalem.
The next retreats are scheduled July 15 - Aug. 3 and Jan. 21 - Feb. 9, 2007.
On the Internet: Go to NotreDameCenter.org and click on “Priestly Renewal Course.”
- April 9-15, 2006