National retreat in Cebu aimed at renewal of priests
By CBCP News
Organizers of the national retreat for the priests hope to gather around 3,000 of them from across the country at the IEC Convention Center in the city of Cebu.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has stated that the retreat, the largest gathering of the local clergy since the pandemic, “promises to be a deeply enriching and spiritually rejuvenating experience for all our priests.”
With the theme “Priesthood: A Call to Holiness,” the National Retreat for Priests (NRP) will take place from November 7 to 9 at the IEC Convention Center that was initially built for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in 2016.
“In this synodal journey together in our shared vocation as priests, it is essential to take time for personal reflection, renewal, and recommitment to the sacred calling we have received from Jesus Christ, our High Priest,” said Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, CBCP President, in a statement.
The retreat, he also said, “provides a sacred space and an opportunity for us to gather as brothers in Christ, to support and encourage one another, and to delve deeper into the profound mysteries of our priestly vocation”.
Speakers at the retreat will include Irish nun Sr. Briege McKenna, OSC, who is renowned worldwide for her gift of healing and ministry to priests.
Her books, “Miracles Do Happen” and “The Power of the Sacraments,” have been translated into numerous languages across the globe.
McKenna will be joined by Spanish Fr. Pablo Escriva de Romani, known for his work in war zones and his missionary retreats worldwide.
The National Retreat for Priests (NRP), organized by the CBCP Episcopal Commission Clergy (ECCler) in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Cebu, was initially planned as part of the celebrations for the 500th Anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021 but was postponed due to the pandemic.
“This is our way of recognizing as we journey towards tomorrow, we want, in a special way, the dawning of the Holy Spirit, the age of the spirit, to be the guiding force of all of us,” said Archbishop Jose Palma in a press briefing on Tuesday.
For his part, Msgr. Cesar Vergara, executive secretary of ECCler, said the retreat is “an important journey for us priests who are leading 80 million Catholics in our country.”
Palma stated that preparations are underway to host this “very important” event for priests, aiming to provide them with a renewal of spirit as they gather in community.
The archdiocese specifically sought the assistance of all 46 charismatic communities within the archdiocese, through the Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service (CHARIS) Philippines.
Fe Barino, coordinator of CHARIS Philippines and head of the NRP working committees, said that approximately 1,000 priests from at least 22 dioceses have already registered for the event.
“We’re calling on other priests out there because we would like to accommodate about 3,000 participants,” Barino said.