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Priests' Congress Seeks Spiritual Renewal of Clergy

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

, Jan. 6, 2010─Focusing on the interior renewal of the clergy in this year dedicated for priests, an intense five-day national priests' congress will be held this month that will gather diocesan and religious clergy around the country.

The second National Congress of the Clergy set on January 25-29 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City will be days of spiritual reflection and profound prayer for priests aimed at providing them a deep religious experience "that will hopefully lead to spiritual conversion and greater commitment."

More of a spiritual retreat in dynamics, the congress aims to bring the clergy to a deepening of their pastoral commitment through interior renewal.

Msgr. Gerry Santos, program committee member said the retreat has the following dynamics: prayer and liturgy, conferences, group reflection and journal writing and encounter with host families.

"These activities will help achieve an atmosphere of prayerful reflection and presbyteral fellowship," he explained.

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, a Franciscan Capuchin and preacher of the Papal household will deliver five conferences that will delve on the theme "Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests," which the Holy Father has chosen as theme for the celebration of the Year for Priests.

On the fourth day of the retreat, Imus Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle will give two conferences touching on the spiritual pastoral context of the Church in the Philippines.

The five-day congress include other highlights such as liturgical celebration of the Eucharist, Communal Penance and Reconciliation, the Via Crucis, Lauds and Vespers and the recitation of the rosary.

Fr. Francis Gustilo, SDB, another program committee member said Cantalamessa's reflection on the theme will basically touch on the three C's: "consecration, conversion and commitment," which is the aim of the retreat.

"Consecration, [because] the priest is consecrated, ordained for a mission; conversion, because priests also commit mistakes from what they promised during their ordination; [and] commitment, [or resolution] to renew their lives," he said.

The laity are also encouraged by organizers to participate in the upcoming congress by way of praying and offering sacrifices for their priests and the success of the spiritual retreat.

Some lay people have been invited to witness among the priests their pursuit of holiness according to their state in life. Sharers include former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, Darren Bancod (youth), Mr. and Mrs. Leopoldo Repratente (couple) and Ms. Maria Voce of the Focolare Movement.

The public will have their chance to hear Cantalamessa preach on January 28 at the Araneta Coliseum, an event open for the laity. He will speak to lay people about their role in helping their priests live faithfully their pastoral commitment.

Gustilo added that during the event people should pray not only for the priests but also for the country, saying the current situation in the country needs vigilant lay people who are aware of their rights and responsibility.

"CBCP dedicated this year as the year of the two hearts of Jesus and Mary. Since the election is nearing, so we should also have a renewed vision of our society. Our people should elect the right persons to join the government. If we follow always the traditional politics, nothing will happen in our country, But if we are convinced of the people we should vote for, then we will not sell our vote," he said.

Around 4,200 clergy nationwide have already registered for the five-day spiritual event.

The clergy congress is being organized by Episcopal Commission on Clergy of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)

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