Elderly priests told: ‘Never forget that you are loved’
Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Gabriele Giordano Caccia spoke to 44 elderly diocesan priests during the recently held 21st Ephesus Retreat, April 24, 2019.
By Kendrick Ivan Panganiban
April 24, 2019
Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Gabriele Giordano Caccia spoke to 44 elderly diocesan priests during the recently held 21st Ephesus Retreat on April 24, reminding them of their status as God’s beloved children.
“Our value does not depend on our results or productivity. Our value is a value of a human being loved by God and we never have to forget that God loves each one of us,” said the prelate.
He added: “The Holy Father insists that you dear elderly priests, do not think you are not useful. That is a big mistake and sometimes we fall for that mistake… entering this mentality is a big danger. It is the adversary who brings us this ideas.”
Caccia spoke at the annual spiritual exercises for senior clergy across the country, held at the Carmelite Missionaries Center of Spirituality in this city. The Ephesus Retreat is held after Holy Week, organized by the Ephesus Ministry for Elderly Diocesan Priests under the Kadiwa sa Pagkapari Foundation, Inc. under Msgr. Sabino A. Vengco, Jr.
A message from the Pope
The Nuncio mentioned how he came to the assembly in the name of Pope Francis. He also gave all the elderly priests and the staff a copy of the Pope’s apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate on holiness in the world. He expressed the hope that each priest live a life of prayer and holiness. The prelate also relayed the Pope’s wish for prayers as he continues exercising the Petrine ministry.
“As you know Pope Francis is not that young. He is aging too already. And he always says that elderly people are a resource for the society and the Church and are of high esteem among elderly people,” added Caccia.
Examples of wisdom
Reflecting on the Pope’s words, he said, “The Holy Father insists that elderly people are like the roots of a tree. Sometimes the roots may be thin, but without them the tree would not survive… If you cut the roots, the tree would not survive.” Therefore elderly people are the roots of society.”
He explained that the Pope’s experience of wisdom and care from his grandmother was an inspiration for him to encourage young people to talk to the elderly. “Talk to the elderly people. They have wisdom. They know how to face difficult moments in their life. They can teach you as elderly people have time,” said Caccia. He added, “The youth need light and they need encouragement. This is something they can get truly from the elderly, especially you, elderly priests.”
It was the first time for the Apostolic Nuncio to be invited to one of the events of the Ephesus Ministry for Priests. Besides the Ephesus Retreat usually held every Easter season, the Ephesus Ministry also holds four other events during the year for the old priests:
- Ephesus Love Day, held on or near February 14 at Villa San Miguel, Mandaluyong City;
- Ephesus Fathers’ Day, held on or near Fathers’ Day every June; Ephesus Priests’ Day, held on or near August 4,
- the Feast of St. John Vianney, Patron Saint of Priests; and
- the Parangal Agape, an annual thanksgiving for the jubilation priests among the elderly clergy held every December