|An unforgettable concelebration on the Sea of Galilee.|
February 16, 2010. Jerusalem, Israel. What unites a group of
priests from Mexico, the United States, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, South
Africa, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Ireland, Germany, India, Italy, Switzerland, and the
Philippines? The priesthood itself, and the experience of walking where
From January 18 to February 6, the culturally diverse
group of 28 priests began the 10th Priestly Renewal Course
in the Holy Land, ready to experience Christ in a
new way in the land that some call the “fifth
gospel.” The goal of the course was to help priests
to renew their own priesthood through a pilgrimage saturated in
The priests visited the main holy places, from Bethlehem, Nazareth,
Ain Karim, Cana, Capernaum, Tabgha, Magdala, Galilee, Mount Tabor, and
the Mount of the Beatitudes to Bethany, Bethphage, Emmaus, and
Caesarea. In Jerusalem, they visited the Holy Sepulcher, prayed on
Calvary, walked the original Via Crucis, and spent time in
Gethsemane, the tomb of Mary, the basilica of the Dormition,
the Cenacle, and the Wailing Wall, among others.
also included moments of cultural enrichment, such as the visits
to the Qumran and Masada excavations at the Dead Sea;
visits to the Franciscan, Dominican, and Jesuit biblical studies institutes.
|A moment of cultural enrichment during the pilgrimage.|
Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish religious leaders came to speak on
• Fr Artemio Vitores, O.F.M. on “The Custody
of the Holy Land.”
• Iman Mustafa Abu Sway on “Islamic
Theology and Christianity.”
• Rabbi David Rosen on “Jewish Theology and
Christianity.” (Rosen is the director of the American Jewish Committee’s
Department for Interreligious Affairs and the Heilbrunn Institute for International
• His Beatitude Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of
Jerusalem on “Christianity in the Holy Land.”
The priests also touched
the “living stones” of the Catholic faith in the Holy
Land, with visits to communities of various Catholic rites (Latin,
Maronite, and Syrian) in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Ramala.
Prayer and fellowship
powerful moments of personal renewal were waiting for the priests
in the Holy Land.
They renewed their baptismal promises in
Banias, where the Jordan River begins—the same place where Peter
made his profession of faith in Jesus’ divinity. They also
renewed their priestly promises in a Holy Hour in Gethsemane.
The course began with three days of spiritual exercises (in
English, Spanish, and Italian), and was sprinkled with various talks
by Fr Agustin de la Vega, LC, the pilgrimage director.
They experienced moments of fellowship in prayer, celebrating the liturgy
|The pilgrimage was also an opportunity for fellowship with other priests.|
of the hours (lauds and vespers) together every day. They
also concelebrated the Mass in various holy places, and had
daily adoration of the Eucharist every day for an hour.
fellowship, which is often lacking in places where vocations are
scarce, was also a great blessing. Many of them said
that this was their first international experience with other priests,
and that one of the biggest blessings was the chance
to enjoy each other’s company in a pilgrimage that was
just for them.
Throughout the 20 days of the course,
Jesus’ words to his first apostles came to life again:
“Come away for a while..”
To find out more about upcoming
priestly renewal courses as well as local retreats and spiritual
exercises for priests, visit the Sacerdos web site at www.sacerdos.org.