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Turn to Jesus (Article)

The Priesthood and the Fifth Gospel
Priests from 14 countries unite to renew their priesthood in the land where Jesus walked.

priests on Galilee boat
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 Jesus walked.

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 prayer.

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.

Cultural enrichment

The trip 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.
Jerusalem museum
A moment of cultural enrichment during the pilgrimage.

Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish religious leaders came to speak on various topics:
• 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 Interreligious Understanding.)
• 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

Many 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
on board the boat
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.

Priestly 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



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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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