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25 Settembre - 1 Ottobre 2005
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"Priesthood is the love of Jesus' heart"
Was it really sensible to organise an international retreat in Ars sur Fromans, little village lost in the Dombes and populated with hardly a few hundred of inhabitants ? If we just look at the logistic side of it, obviously not ! And yet Saint John Mary Vianney, who was parish -priest there from 1818 to 1859 was praying that crowds come again when the flow of pilgrims was slowing down. So perhaps it is him who placed into the heart of the Beatitudes Community this conviction to invite the priests from all over the world and to ask sister Briedge to lead a 6 day retreat.
The opportunity was beautiful. Indeed, this year is the hundredth anniversary of John Mary Vianney's beatification. 853 priests, from 71 different countries, heard the call to plunge into prayer to allow the Holy Spirit to renew them in their love for priesthood and in their Christian identity.
Wasn't it already an amazing sign that they come to listen the Word of God , leaded by a consecrated sister, Sister Briedge? But they were not alone. Many bishops and two cardinals took part in this spiritual event taking place juste before the synod about the Eucharist which concluded the year of the Eucharist. About a hundred of laic were busy in different services as well as in the broadcasting of the whole day on the radio.
Bishop Bagnard said he had already received many testimony of radio listeners who were very grateful. We are not surprised since a man who hadn't been to confession for 40 years, listening by chance the teaching of Sister Briedge on the radio rushed to Ars to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.
As well as this woman who write us that she has listened to the retreat through internet :
"I listened to it while working ( I'm working for Father X, missionary in Bolivia). I also listened to the last evening with the testimonies. I just want to testimony that the Holy Spirit worked within me through this retreat. I prayed and praised with you all, I felt a great inner peace during the whole week (even though it was full on after a fortnight holiday). I really felt so in communion with all these priests. I can't find the words to express the joy I felt while listening to this retreat, neither to tell you my gratitude. God was really there, that's for sure ! "
We can sum up what we lived in three stages: Conversion, going deeper, sending out.
The teachings given were very concrete and direct. They were the application in our priestly life, of the words of the Gospel to hear again the call of God to choose holiness. Each day, one or several saints were accompanying us on the top of St Cure of Ars.
Bishop Guy Gaucher, who took with him the relics of the little flower (St Therese of Lisieux), helped us realised how she had offered up her life for priests.
Here is the testimony of an Anglican priest.
« The effect of soaking in the presence of the Lord day after day touches parts of you and releases things. The highpoint for me was the Thursday morning (the session when the priests were prayed for). I was on my knees for most of this time as I felt wave after wave of holiness wash over me. It was at the end of this time, with many tears and even a time of laughter, that I had that beautiful encounter with Sainte Therese. This was unexpected and remarkable and I am still pinching myself. it was momentary, but it went deep. I sense many levels of meaning in her greeting and some will take some time to unravel. It felt a little like, upon later reflection, the burning coal touching Isaiah's lips. There was an impartation of some kind and I recall feeling immense grace flowing over me after this. This session as so powerful that I found it hard to walk afterwards - it was like walking on the moon....
It surely sounds strange for an Anglican to be encountering St Therese...
My people wanted to know what had happened to me as I was somewhat different and infected by the joy and blessing that was at Ars last Sunday. I prayed a blessing over everyone at communion and they received this well. Various people in the diocese have been quizzing me about the experience and our Mission and Renewal officer is very sorry that he did not come with me ».
The going deeper made us aware that it is Jesus who works in the priest's ministry and in the sacraments. Through the strength of the Holy Spirit presence we could feel it among us telling the urgency to let ourselves be configured to Christ.
The sending out was given by the strong and warm words of Bishop Rylko, Bishop Tcherniak and Bishop Bagnard. They reminded us that if the priest receives a personal renewal in the Charismatic Renewal and is ministering there, he has a position and specific responsibilities he can't desert.
Many participants, voluntaries, and radio listeners testimony they have been renewed in hope and that is the most beautiful fruit. Christ is really the One acting today among us in the Church. He the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
So it is thanksgiving that is raising from our hearts for all those who made this moment of grace possible.
Fr François Xavier Wallays, General Moderator of the Beatitudes Community
Taken from the ICCRs Newsletter October-December 2005
A 5 day charismatic retreat to be revived by the Holy Spirit and, with the help of the Lord, be renewed in the graces of the priesthood.
For the first time, ICCRS in conjunction with the Catholic Community of the Beatitudes, with the cooperation of the John Mary Vianney Society offer together an International Charismatic Priests' Retreat to be held from September 25 to October 1, 2005 (in the year od the hunderdth anniversary of the beatification of the Holy Priest) in Ars-sur-Formans (Ain-France). Outstanding event because the last same retreat was given in Rome (Italy) in 1990.
Cardinals, bishops, priests, invited together to deepen the theme: "Priesthood is the love of Jesus' heart", to pray in the power of the Holy Spirit and to spend this week close to the holy cur, to Jesus' heart and the Virgin Mary, led by Sr Briege Mckenna and Fr Kevin Scallon, and many others speakers and celebrants.
Programme includes: teachings, daily Mass presided by cardinals and bishops, adoration and procession of the Blessed Sacrament, prayer vigils inspired by the Holy Curé of Ars and the Virgin Mary, confessions, sharing witnesses, liturgy of the hours, rosary, praise and worship.