5 - 9 October 1984


“A call to holiness”.

10,000 hours of prayer and 6,000 days of fasting offered by Catholics in Japan, 369,000 rosaries prayed by the People of God in California, innumerable hours of adoration spent before the Blessed Sacrament by contemplative religious during the whole years, and countless more prayers and sacrifices offered worldwide by prayer groups and individuals filled with love and concern for their priests –all this provided the rich context of the unqualified spiritual success of the Worldwide Retreat for Priest held in Rome, October 5-9, 1984.

About 5,900 priests, 80 bishops and 2 cardinals from a hundred countries made up the final tally. Several other bishops and cardinals visited the Retreat for one or other sessions. The Retreat was held in the Papal Audience Hall within Vatican City, while the daily Holy Hour and the concluding Papal Mass was held in St. Peter’s Basilica. And how the priests prayed! In their buses commuting to and from the Audience Hall, in the corridors of the Aula, in chapels and churches of the area during formal liturgies, St. Paul’s advice “Pray at all times” (1 Thes. 5/17) was consolingly put into practice. The Retreat was therefore first of all a prayer-success: an insistent and protracted cry rose like incense from the participants in Rome and well-wishers everywhere to the God of Sanctity for rich blessings of holiness to come upon the whole Church in these final years of the twentieth century.

About 2,000 priests from Third World countries were enabled to participate through the one million dollar donation of Piet and Trude Derkson (Holland), while several groups of priests from Communist-led countries were helped by about $30,000 collected in Japan; there were besides very many other smaller contributions of love. An army of volunteers came from far and near (mostly at their own expenses) to be servants at the Retreat, and the Vatican extended full cooperation to facilitate the innumerable details of organization. Hence, the Retreat could also be called a cooperative success: “the whole body building itself up in love, with the proper functioning of the members….” (Eph. 4/16).

Most participants were all praise for the talks, recognizing all the speakers to be humble yet very powerful instruments of the Lord. The Jubilee Cross (symbol of the recent Holy year of Redemption), the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Blessed Sacrament were each carried in procession into the Aula on different days, evoking enthusiastic and touching responses from the thousands of priests assembled. An act of consecration was made to Mary, Mother of all priests, and at the concluding liturgy, an act of commitment to the Pope, Christ’s Vicar on earth, promising to continue to seek the gift of holiness in daily life. The Holy Father, on his part, encouraged his brother priests during the extended homily “to translate your call to sanctity into a programme of docility to the Spirit”. The Pope pointed out that if the leadings of the Spirit are followed, he brings about in you a progressive identification with Christ, with his example, with his teaching, with his person, and elevates you to be cooperators in the divine plan of salvation”.

Questions are already being asked by many, “When is the next retreat? This one was certainly worth effort!”. May God be glorified, and the People of God see plentiful and abiding fruit produced in the ministry of priests everywhere, as they respond generously to their call “to become the very holiness of God” (2 Cor. 5/12). Then surely ICCRO can think of repeating the event!

Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter September-October 1984.





According to a letter dated July 1st, 1983, from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, the Holy Father has authorized the use of the Paul VI Audience Hall for the Worldwide Priests’ Retreat that ICCRO is organizing in Rome from October 5th to 9th, 1984.

Accommodation in the Audience Hall is limited, so our earlier projection of 10,000 priests must now be revised to 7,000 only. This raises the possibility that priests who do not register early enough may be disappointed.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta too has agreed to speak at the Retreat. Talking to Fr. Tom Forrest and Mr. Tom Flynn in Rome, where she was recently hospitalized for rest, she said, “You know my great love for priests! I will come, God permitting”.

Prayer groups everywhere are asked to continue to keep the International Leaders’ Conference and the Worldwide Priests’ Retreat in a very special way in their prayers.

Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter July-August 1983.

From the 5th to the 9th of October, 1984, there will be a Worldwide Retreat for Priests taking place in Rome. Though organized as a service to the Church by the International Office of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (I.C.C.R.O.), this is not a retreat only for charismatics, but rather for all priests wishing to attend. The retreat will take place in the Paul VI Audience Hall of Vatican City, and as many as 7,000 priests from over 100 different countries are expected to attend. The special theme of the Retreat is “A call to Holiness”, and its gosal is to intensify the quest for priestly holiness throughout the Church. Among the speakers will be His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Leon-Joseph Suenens of Belgium, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa (papal preacher), and other. Talks will be translated into English, Spanish, French, Italian and German, and all participants will be able to listen in the language of their choice. So that this retreat can succeed in sounding a loud and even thrilling call to holiness for priests of all world, your help is needed. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Pray intensely for the success of the Retreat, asking Mary, Mother of all priests, to pray with you. Bring your family together for a special rosary each night with this intention.
  • Ask the prayers of local contemplative communities, perhaps sending them a copy of the Retreat brochure as a reminder. Ask also the prayers of the elderly, of retired religious, and of everyone else you can think of.
  • Ask your parish priest to request and lead prayers for this intention.
  • Make sure that the Retreat is prayed for in a very special way in all your prayer meetings, your charismatic gatherings, Masses and special activities.
  • Fast on Fridays, or at least each First Friday of the month for the great spiritual success of the Retreat. Ask others to join you in doing so, explaining that this is an effort for the worldwide renewal of the Catholic priesthood.
  • Seek brochures from your National Registration Center (a list is enclosed), and distribute them to your priest friends and all priests of your area, with a warm but gentle invitation to attend. Letters about this retreat have been sent to every bishop (ordinary) of the world, many responding with beautiful letters, promising prayers and every kind of support.
  • Publish or ask to have published on your own charismatic magazine, newspaper or other publication the article in this Newsletter about the need for priestly holiness. Include an announcement about the Retreat, with information on how to register.
  • Place an ad for the Retreat, or one of the news releases (obtainable from you National Registration Center) in your local Catholic newspaper or magazine. Your prayer group could perhaps sponsor this ad, as was done recently in London in a very beautiful way.
  • Offer help in sponsoring one or the other of your local priests who hopes to attend. The National Service Committee of Italy recently asked each prayer group of that country to sponsor two priests hoping to participate, and Japan always does something like this for their yearly priests retreats. Many priests are going to find it hard economically to be there. But weekly or monthly collections at prayer meetings, and the donations of generous benefactors could easily solve this problem.
  • Send help for the travel of priests from poor countries of the world. Someone has already given one million U.S. dollars to help priests attend from 64 of the poorer countries of the world. But even this large amount of money is not nearly enough to help all the Third World priest needing assistance.

Even bishops have written to say they would like to come, but couldn’t do so without receiving financial assistance. The Retreat will not be the success we are praying for if it is attended only by priests of the more affluent countries. This may well be the only opportunity many priests will ever have of sharing such an experience of the universal Church, and the worldwide brotherhood of priests. Your donation can be sent either to your National registration Center, or directly to us here in Rome. (Worldwide Retreat for Priests, Via Ferruccio, 19, 00185, Rome, Italy).

We feel certain that, if we all work together in a serious way, we can do something truly vital and perhaps even historic for the good of the Church. It will take a worldwide effort, many sacrifices, and a great deal of very hard work. But the fruits can be immense. The Catholic priesthood can and will be renewed, and with it the Church and the world. We are asking you to help.

Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter November-December 1983.

Prayers are requested for great spiritual fruit to come from the Worldwide Priests’ Retreat to be held Oct. 5-9 in the Vatican Audience Hall. Over 4.300 priests and bishops have registered for the retreat, whose theme is “A Call to Holiness”. Pope John Paul II will celebrate the closing Eucharist and give a stirring message on Oct. 9. The list of speakers includes Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM(Cap), Fr. Salvador Carillo Alday, M.Sp.S., Fr. Tom Forrest, C.Ss.R., Bishop Uribe Jaramillo (Colombia), Bishop Valerian D’Souza (India), and Cardinal Suenens (Belgium). Cardinal Oddi, Cardinal Gantin, and Archbishop Ivan Dias of the Vatican will deliver homilies at the liturgies. The daily program includes a Holy Hour in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Liturgy of the Hours, and many opportunities for brotherly sharing and the healing ministry.

The ICCRO Council will be holding its annual meeting in Rome, Oct. 12-15. This Council of 12 international leaders supervises the work of ICCRO and plans its projects and services for the future. The meeting has two parts, a time for business matters and a time for discernment regarding the needs of the worldwide Renewal. Your earnest prayers are requested for this meeting, during which a new Director for ICCRO must be chosen and possibly one or two members elected.

Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter July-August 1984.

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