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Saturday, January 01, 2005

Priests blogging in Malta

Fr. Michael Harrington, Fr. Edward Riley and Fr. Jeremy St. Martin, travelled from Boston to spend a week at the International Priest Retreat in Malta entitled "Priests for the Formation of Saints for the New Millenium." After the retreat in Malta last October, they continued on the footsteps of St. Paul travelling to Rome in time for the signing of the EU constitution. They recorded their whole stay in Malta with this weblog:

Friends, sorry there have been no posts until now but we were having trouble with internet access. We have arrived in Malta...all 27 of the Priests from Boston including Archbishop O'Malley. The Mediterranean Sea is beautiful. We are in Malta with 960 other priests from around the world participating in this conference "Formating Saints for the New Millenium; On the Footsteps of Paul Apostle." The conference began with a Mass at the beautiful Co-St. John the Baptist Cathedral. In the Church were relics (wrist bone) of St. Paul. It was a powerful Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Prefect for the Congregation of the Clergy. The next morning we had Morning Prayer led by Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney and confernces given by Cardinal Hoyos and Monsignor Bruno Forte, theologian from Italy. Later this afternoon we hope to post pictures and give some snippets of the conferences. Archbishop O'Malley is giving the meditation at morning prayer today. God is good and the graces are flowing. It is good to be here in the shadow of St. Paul.

The most moving part of the day for me was in the afternoon when we visited the Grotto of St. Paul. We entered this Church so filled with images from the life of St. Paul. We felt very at home in this Church. On the Altar they placed the relics (wristbone of St. Paul). All the priests gathered around the altar for prayer. We renewed our profession of faith in the very spot where the Maltese people first received the faith from St. Paul. Then, the relics were carried in procession from the Altar down through the grotto of St. Paul (cave where Paul lived for three months in captivity). We pretty much took up the rear of the procession because we wanted to take in as much as possible of the Church and grotto. The procession went from the grotto into the streets of Medina ( an ancient walled city with so much charm and beauty) and then on to the Cathedral of St. Paul.

We had an incredible day on the island of Gozo. I never would have expected the welcome we received. The townspeople lined the street from the Bus stop to the Church. They held out their children so we could give them blessings or a simple handshake and smile. The parish Church we first came upon was more like a Cathedral. It was incredibly beautiful. The amazing thing was it was built from 1951 to 1971. I thought later on that many of the people who were welcoming us had most likely been involved in the building of this most remarkable structure. They must have been filled with joy today to witness 1000 priests and about 25 Bishops doing morning prayer in their church.

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