|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
of nationalities, with 10 from the United States, three from
Canada, and one each from the Philippines, Mexico, and Nigeria.
|Fr Jeffrey Galens, of Good Shepherd Church in Rhinebeck, NY, celebrates Mass in one of the Pauline sites.|
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.
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
|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
|All vested up for Mass.|
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit www.sacerdos.org/english.