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In the school
of the good shepherd

· Three days of events for the Jubilee of priests and seminarians ·

“It is a great opportunity to renew ourselves, to regain this fragrance of the Good Shepherd, sharing it with our people in order to receive the Holy Spirit in a new way, and also to renew our strength, courage and enthusiasm, making us close to all”. These were the reasons for the Jubilee spiritual retreat, which takes place in Rome from 1 to 3 June with more than 6,000 priest and seminarian participants, according to the framework proposed by Archbishop Jorge Carlos Patrón Wong, Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy with a delegate for the seminars.

“We are aware of our weakness and poverty, and this is why we need God’s mercy," said the Mexican prelate. Precisely with this awareness “Pope Francis has decided that priests and seminarians will take a moment amidst their many pastoral activities to find a bit of rest and refreshment in the heart of the Good Shepherd”.

The image of the Good Shepherd is the theme of this Jubilee event, in order to truly render “the priest a man of mercy and compassion, who is close to his people and a servant of all”, as the Pope said as a reminder to Roman priests in March 2014. These three days, characterized by the three meditations Pope Francis shared on Thursday, 2 June, will culminate with Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square the Friday morning, 3 June.

The jubilee encounter started on Wednesday morning, 1 June, with the preparation for a pilgrimage to the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica. In the Jubilee churches of San Salvatore in Lauro, Santa Maria in Vallicella and San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, Eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation were made available. In the afternoon, after the Holy Door pilgrimage, the catechesis for different linguistic groups in various churches took place, followed by the celebration of the Mass. The catechesis for French-speaking participants took place in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi, with Bishop Vincent Dollmann, auxiliary bishop of Strasbourg.

English speakers gathered in the Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle for their catechesis which was preached by Bishop Robert E. Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles. The Polish talks were held in the basilica of San Marco Evangelista a Campidoglio with Bishop Grzegorz Ryś, auxiliary bishop of Krakow. For Portuguese-speakers the catechesis took place at Santa Monica church, with Bishop Paulo Cezar Costa, auxiliary of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro.

Panamanian Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán, Bishop of David, preached the catechesis to Spanish speakers at the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles, while Germans received their catechesis at the church of San Salvatore in Lauro by Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the Papal Household. Italian speakers gathered in the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella to listen to a meditation by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Also present was a delegation of priests from Milan. “The path to holiness, encouraged by God’s mercy with particular insistence during this jubilee year, is not an individual path that stresses personal sin for which you seek remedy and reparation,”, said Msgr Mario Delpini, the vicar general of the ambrosian archdiocese, “but it is rather the embrace of the merciful Father who saves us, summoning us for communion in which the Holy Trinity dwells. Building priestly fraternity is the most usual and demanding context for exercising the dynamics of mercy, which God's mercy makes possible and necessary”.

Thursday, 2 June, which was centered on the spiritual retreat with the Pope’s meditations, concluded with Masses in the three papal basilicas of St John Lateran, St Mary Major and St Paul Outside the Walls. In addition Masses were celebrated at other churches in the area of the Ostiense quarter to allow everyone to celebrate in their own language.

On Friday, 3 June, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Francis will preside over the Eucharistic celebration in St Peter’s Square. This will conclude the great jubilee event dedicated to priests, which takes place precisely on the 160th anniversary of the establishment of this solemnity for the universal Church. During the celebration we will pray for priests, that their hearts might be formed “after the model of Jesus’ heart” and that they will therefore sanctify themselves “in joyfully carrying out their ministry”. The Mass will also include prayers “for vocations”, with the hope that “young people’s willingness ” might be nurtured “to make their own lives a gift of total love”, defeating “resistance that is imposed by the worldly spirit”.

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St. Peter’s Square

July 16, 2018

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