Wednesday, September 30, 2009

International Priests Retreat in Ars, France

Msgr. Ken Miller, Fr. Danilo Rafael, Fr. Eusebio Tubale and myself travelled to Ars, France this past weekend to take part in the Internationl Priests Retreat sponsored by the Vatican Congregation for Clergy as a beginning to the Year for Priests, declared by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict declared this special Year in celebration of the 150th anniversary ofthe death of St. Jean Marie Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide.
The town of Ars is a very beautiful place about a 45 minute drive from the city of Lyon. In this picture in the background on the left can be seen the Basilica and Shrine to St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars. In the foreground are part of the tents which serve as the dining hall for the 1200 priests attending this Retreat from around the world.

I am staying in this retreat house for priests, le Foyer Sacerdotale. It is just on the outskirts of the town and very pleasant.

It did not take Fr. Danilo and Fr. Eusebio to find some friends from the Philippines, seen here along with Msgr. Miller.

Because of a Wedding I was performing in Saskatoon on Saturday, I arrived in Ars late afternoon on Monday after 15 hours of travel to Calgary, Frankfurt and Lyon. That evening, the citizens of Ars put on a dramatic representation of the work of the Curé of Ars which was interesting and moving.

St. John Vianney spent his entire priestly life in this small town. However his reputation as a pastor, counsellor and confessor spread throughout Europe and people came from across the continent to talk to him about their lives and go to Confession to him.

His simplicity, dedication to Christ and care of people transformed the lives of many people.

People still come to Ars today by the thousands each year to be near the place where the Saint lived and worked and touched the lives of people with the mercy and compassion of God.
Fr. Danilo and Fr. Eusebio are ready to begin the day in the company of their brother priests from around the world.

The day begins with morning prayer presided over by one of the Bishops taking part in the Retreat.

Some of the 1200 priests participating in the Retreat are getting ready for the first daily conference, given by Cardinal Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, Austria.
I will be back with more later.

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