Support each other in pursuit of holiness, bishop tells priests
By Roy Lagarde
November 10, 2023
A Catholic bishop has emphasized the need for priests to support each other in their life mission to bring Christ to the world.
At the final Mass of the National Retreat for Priests at the IEC Convention Center in Cebu City on Thursday, Bishop Louie Galbines of Kabankalan stressed the value of priestly fraternity in ministry, and in life.
The presbyterium, he said in his homily, is supposed to be a place where bishops and priests celebrate a communion of holiness, where each one is deeply respected, heard, and cared for.
Oftentimes, according to him, most people think that “the least, the last, and the lost are outside our circles”.
“But the reality is, and this is more painful, that we are the ones, through our words and actions, who cause our brothers, our brother priests to become the least, the last, and the lost,” Galbines said.
He went on to recall a story of a priest who once decided “with a heavy heart” to leave the priesthood but “his bishop suddenly stood up and embraced him and said, ‘I cannot afford to lose you, Father.’”
“We all cried because we felt what he felt at that moment,” Galbines said.
The next day, Galbines said he approached the priest to discuss his feelings regarding the actions and words of the bishop.
“And this is his reply: ‘I felt that my bishop has allowed me to stand on the palms of his hands and the heavens opened and he pushed me up,’” he said.
“A healing, a miracle, a communion of holiness, that priest remained in the ministry happily ever after,” the bishop added.
More than 2,600 priests from across the country joined the three-day retreat organized by the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Clergy and the Archdiocese of Cebu.
With the theme “Priesthood: A call for holiness,” the spiritual event featured Irish Sr. Briege McKenna, known for ministering hope and healing worldwide over many decades, and Fr. Pablo Escriva de Romani, a missionary priest from Madrid.
Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines said the retreat was a great experience for renewal of priests.
“If we expect spiritual renewal from the people, it should start from us priests,” Florencio said.
The Mass started on Nov. 7 with a Mass presided over by Papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown, where he underscored that “the key is prayer in order not to lose our zeal”.
“In our lives as priests, whenever we have that moment in which we have to choose between the Lord’s interests and our self-interests, let us choose the Lord’s,” Brown said.
“Let us serve the Lord. That is what a true minister, a true servant of Christ will always do. Not serving ourselves but serving the Lord,” he said.
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