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Priest Pilgrims Walk in the Footsteps of St. Paul in Rome
Sacerdos pilgrimage is a life-changing experience for an international group of diocesan priests.

priests outside
The priest pilgrims at large with Elizabeth Lev on the streets of Rome.

August 27, 2009. Rome, Italy. Walking in the footsteps of saints can have a life changing effect on a person.  Just ask the sixteen participants in the first Sacerdos “Peter and Paul” pilgrimage to Rome, Italy at the close of the Year of St Paul and the start of the Year for Priests.
The pilgrimage was sponsored by the Sacerdos Institute for Priestly Life, which seeks to support priests in their role as spiritual leaders and servants of communion in the heart of the Church. Its programs aid bishops and dioceses by providing priests with opportunities for spiritual growth, pastorally effective resources, and priestly fraternity.

“Seeing and standing where St. Paul spent his last days on earth, and then gave his life for the faith motivated me to rise to the occasion our Lord lays before me each time I spread the Holy Word of God and administer the Holy Sacraments,” said Fr Luis Rodriguez of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, one of the 14 priests who attended the event from June 22 to 30 of this year. 

Also in attendance were a permanent deacon and the father of one of the priests.  The group was a mix
priest celebrating Mass in Rome
Fr Jeffrey Galens, of Good Shepherd Church in Rhinebeck, NY, celebrates Mass in one of the Pauline sites.
of nationalities, with 10 from the United States, three from Canada, and one each from the Philippines, Mexico, and Nigeria.

“The joy of my companion priests gave us all sense of being brothers united in our ministry as presbyters and members of Christ’s Church,” said Fr Luis. 

Each day of the pilgrimage was dedicated to a particular Pauline theme: apostleship, the Church as Christ’s Body, the Cross, faith and justification, the primacy of charity and life in the Holy Spirit. To delve into the day’s theme, participants spent an hour of prayer, helped by spiritual reflections given by Fr Timothy Mulcahey, LC, and celebrated Mass at the Pauline holy sites in Rome, including the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, where the body of Saint Paul is kept and has been venerated by thousands throughout the centuries, and the Abbey of the Three Fountains, where Saint Paul was martyred.

The regular Rome correspondent for the Zenit News Agency, Elizabeth Lev, gave the participants a tour of the Roman forum and the Aventine zone. They saw the Mamertine Prison in the Roman Forum where Saint Paul was imprisoned prior to his martyrdom, and toured the church of Saint Prisca, erected on the
good view of Pope Benedict
The priest pilgrims had several opportunities to get close to Pope Benedict XVI.
site of the house of saints Aquila and Priscilla, the couple that supported and accompanied Paul in the mission to Greece and Asia Minor. They also visited the catacombs of Saint Sebastian, where Church tradition says the bodies of Sts Peter and Paul were kept for decades.

Perhaps the main highlights of the pilgrimage were the encounters with Pope Benedict XVI.  The group attended his Wednesday general audience, the Pope’s Vespers celebration of saints Peter and Paul, and the Closing Mass of the Pauline Year, where many new bishops received their palliums. A pallium is a special vestment that symbolizes a bishop’s role as a shepherd of the Church.

During the pilgrimage, the group received enlightening talks from experts on Pauline spirituality. The experts included Albert Cardinal Vanhoye, SJ, Secretary Emeritus of the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome, who reflected on “Saint Paul’s Pastoral Charity (1 Thessalonians 2).

Bishop Brian Farrell, LC, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, invited the participants to his Vatican office and spoke about “Catholic Involvement in the Ecumenical Movement.”

Fr. Scott Brodeur, SJ, Professor of Pauline writings at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, gave a presentation on “Life in the Spirit: Saint Paul’s Letter to
vested up
All vested up for Mass.
the Romans.”
Father Alex Yeung, LC, Director of the Sacerdos Institute, said the “fraternal atmosphere” of the event was “excellent… It is always a blessing for a priest to be in the Eternal City, together with the Holy Father.  It is an experience of the unity and catholicity of the Church. The testimony of Sts Peter and Paul are certainly inspiring for his pastoral ministry.”

Father Gerald Mullally of the diocese of Scranton, Louisiana, agrees. “The retreat and pilgrimage to Rome was a wonderful experience. The Legionary priests and brothers were great hosts and guides.  And it was great just spending time with my brother priests. While it marked the end of the Pauline Year, it gave me a great start to the Year for Priests.”

The Sacerdos Institute will be offering another pilgrimage for priests at the end of the Year for Priests, June 7-14, 2010. For information about the Rome pilgrimage or other retreats and activities, contact Fr Yeung at (914) 749-3949.  His address is P.O. Box 158, Thornwood, NY 10594, and his email address is  You can also visit



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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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