Priests' Meeting Planned for Lourdes

VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2003 ( Aware of a «strong and generalized desire to strengthen priestly identity,» the Congregation for Clergy has invited priests to attend a meeting in Lourdes from Oct. 11-15.

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The meeting is taking place in the wake of John Paul II’s publication on Holy Thursday of the encyclical on the Eucharist.

The Lourdes meeting will also focus on the «missionary connotation of pastoral ministry in face of the challenges of the times,» the prefect of the Vatican congregation, Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, explained in the letter of invitation.

The «historical circumstances» encourage us to «put out into the deep,» to follow decidedly Peter’s invitation to «contemplate the face of Christ in the school of Mary,» the letter states.

Cardinal Castrillón said that the Lourdes shrine in France represents for all Catholics a school of prayer, which «has seen innumerable groups of pilgrims arrive, seeking intimate communion with Jesus through Mary.»

The Congregation for Clergy has periodically organized retreats and international meetings for priests, an initiative launched in preparation for the Jubilee Year 2000.

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