Conclusions from Yearly International Meetings for Priests
1st International Meeting for Priests
Medjugorje, Summer 1996
The First international meeting for priests was held in Medjugorje in summer 1996, as an answer to the desire of many priests to participate on meetings for priests in the Shrine of the Queen of Peace itself. Fr. Slavko Barbaric, led by the desire to help them to better know the spirituality of Medjugorje, gathered a group of priests-pilgrims present at the Shrine and conducted the seminar. All the priests participated together at the Evening prayer programme in the parish church.
2nd International Meeting for Priests “Priests in the school of Mary”
Medjugorje, July 1st to 5th 1997
At the beginning of July, about 120 priests from England, Germany, France, Italy, Romania, Poland, America, Spain, and Croatia met at the shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje for a four-day seminar.
In the course of the seminar, the priests listened to lectures, meditated, prayed, celebrated the Eucharist and climbed the Medjugorje Mountains. The seminar on the theme of "Priests in the School of Mary" was organized and conducted by Fr. Slavko Barbaric and Fr. Cosimo Cavaluzzo, from Italy.
3rd International Meeting for Priests “Priests in the school of Mary”
Medjugorje, June 30th to July 6th 1998
The Third International Seminar for Priests was held at the Shrine of the Queen of Peace from June 30 to July 6, 1998.
About 160 priests from England, Germany France, Italy, Romania, Poland, America, Spain and Croatia took part. The theme of the seminar was "Priests in the School of Mary". The largest group of about 50 priests came from Poland.
During the seven days, the priests listened to lectures, meditated, prayed, celebrated the Eucharist together and climbed the Apparitions Hill and Krizevac. For the Shrine, the seminar was organized by Father Slavko Barbaric, and the lecturers included Fr. Cosimo Cavaluzzo from Italy, Fr. Jörg Müller from Germany and Father Jozo Zovko.
We 150 priests from 15 countries have participated in the Second International Meeting of Priests, "Priests in the School of Mary", which was held from June 30 to July 6, 1998, in Medjugorje.
At the conclusion of our meeting, we are pleased to announce what we have experienced during these days:
With prayer, the celebration of the Eucharist, the climbing of Podbrdo and Krizevac, lectures arranged for this meeting, we gathered around Mary, the mother of our priesthood, the Queen of Peace, and renewed our priestly vocation and the consciousness of our ministry in the context of preparation for the third millennium.
Deeply thankful to God for everything we have experienced through the Queen of Peace, we announce:
- We remain obedient to the Holy Father and to the entire Church with respect to their position regarding the events of Medjugorje and we await the final judgement of the Church.
- In Medjugorje, we have understood more deeply the sense and meaning of the presence of Mary, our mother, teacher and pilgrim, who in these times participates in pilgrimages with the pilgrim church, just as the Pope speaks about Her in his documents.
- We have received a real incentive regarding our personal prayer, fasting and the celebration of Holy Mass and a special encouragement regarding to the sacrament of penance and have discovered our priestly duty and power in the battle against evil.
- We return to our parish communities with a great desire to pass on to our faithful our experiences in Medjugorje and with these experiences to more faithfully go on the path of evangelisation at the beginning of the new millennium, just as the Holy Father has invited and encouraged us to do.
- We greet all of you with brotherly love and we promise that with our prayer and devoted work we will demonstrate that we are faithful sons of the Holy Church and faithful workers in building Christ's kingdom in the spirit of Mary, the Queen of Peace.
Medjugorje, July 6t, 1998
4th International Meeting for Priests “The priest in the service of life”
Medjugorje, June 30th to July 6th 1999
The Fourth International Seminar for Priests was held in the shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje from June 30th - July 6th 1999.
170 priests from England, Germany, France, Italy, Slovakia, Poland, USA, Romania, Spain and Croatia participated in the work of the seminar on the theme: "The priest in the service of life". The largest groups were 30 priests from France and 60 from Poland. Sub-themes which the priests meditated and discussed were: "The priest in the service of unborn life", "The priest in the service of wounded life", "The healing of priestly life, "Prayer-life with God the Father", "Mary-handmaiden of life" and "Preach the good news of life".
For seven days, the priests listened to lectures, meditated, prayed, celebrated together the Eucharist and climbed the Apparitions Hill and Cross Mountain. In the name of the shrine of the Queen of Peace, the seminar was organized and led by Fr. Slavko Barbaric. Lecturers were Don Cosimo Cavaluzzo, from Italy, Msgr. Philip J. Reilly, who is for 30 years now active in the struggle in favour of the unborn life, Dr. Fernand Sanchez, doctor and deacon, Sr. Elvira Petrozzi and Fr. Jozo Zovko.
At the conclusion of the seminar, a joint statement was made which we here report in full.
"We Catholic priests from ten countries, with the participation of an Anglican pastor from England and one Orthodox priest from Romania, have spent 6 days on retreat in Medjugorje.
The director Fr. Slavko Barbaric, Don Cosimo Cavaluzzo, Msgr. Philip Reilly, Dr. Fernand Sanchez, Fr. Jozo Zovko and Sr. Elvira Petrozzi have convincingly inspired us to a livelier trust in God's fatherly love for us. Their testimonies have also awakened in us the conviction and desire by our own priesthood to witness God's love to one another and to all people, drawing the strength from fervent Eucharistic and prayerful community with Jesus and his mother Mary. The leaders have inspired us to seek healing for our personal wounds, and with love to courageously present ourselves for the protection of human life from natural conception to natural death and for the healing of wounded life in human hearts.
The Eucharistic celebration, rosary, adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and the Cross, pilgrimage to Cross Mountain with confession and the walk to the Hill of Apparitions have enriched our spiritual life in Our Lady's shrine in Medjugorje from June 30th to July 6th, 1999. Completely satisfied with what we have experienced and learned in "Mary's School", with God's blessing we return to our daily life, profoundly grateful to God the Father, the source of life, for giving us the grace to gather in this place of grace and, in the school of Mary, mother of life, to learn to serve, preserve, respect and love each life as a very great gift of God the Father.
Medjugorje, July 6, 1999
170 priest participants in the spiritual exercises
5th International Meeting for Priests
“Priest - Man of the Most Holy Trinity and Servant of the Body of the Lord”
Medjugorje, June 30th to July 6th 2000
The fifth international seminar for priests was held in the Shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje, from June 30th to July 6th.
272 priests from England, Germany, France, Italy, Slovakia, Poland, America, Romania, Argentina, Russia, Czech Republic, Mexico, Madeira, Portugal, Brazil, Slovenia, Lithuania, Hungary, Ukraine, Spain, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia have participated in the seminar with the theme: “Priest - Man of the Most Holy Trinity and Servant of the Body of the Lord”. Sixty polish priests were the largest among groups. The sub-topics were: 'Jesus, the High Priest offers Himsef as a sacrifice on the Cross', 'Priest-servant of the Body of the Lord", 'Priest - preacher of the mercy and the love of God, attendant of the sacraments and liberator of all evil powers', 'Come to me, all of you who are heavily burdened, and I shall give you rest'.
Over the six days course, priests have attended lectures, meditated, prayed, concelebrated the Eucharist, and climbed the Apparition Hill and Krizevac. On behalf of the Shrine, the seminar was organised and conducted by Fr. Slavko Barbarić. The lecturers were: Fr. Daniel Ange, Fr. James Manjackal, Fr. Rufus Pereira, Fr. Martin Ramoser, Fr. Cosimo Cavaluzzo, sister Elvira Petrozzi and Fr. Jozo Zovko.
At the end of the seminar, they issued this joint statement, which we here present completely:
We, the 272 Roman Catholic priests and seminarians, religious and secular, are gathered here from 30 different countries, serving in the most diverse ministries, together with some representatives of the Greek Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican Church, for the fifth priests’ retreat on the theme: “Priest - Man of the Most Holy Trinity and Servant of the Body of the Lord.” We listened to several talks by Fr. Daniel Ange, Fr. Rufus Pereira, Fr. Martin Ramoser, Fr. James Manjackal, Fr. Cosimo Cavaluzzo, Sr. Elvira Petrozzi, Fr. Jozo Zovko and Fr. Slavko Barbaric.
During this year of the Great Jubilee, we desire to rejoice in being children of God, in being chosen by the Lord and consecrated in His priesthood. We are happy for all the gifts the Lord has given through His Church, entrusting us with his own Son Jesus now already for 2000 years.
We are grateful that He made us servants of His Body and His Blood, witnesses of His mercy, men who give life to the world by giving it God, a God made present who is bestowed in the sacraments.
As sinners, unworthy of the mysteries entrusted to us, we seek forgiveness of all those we have offended, disappointed or saddened, beseeching them to call on God’s mercy both with us and for us.
If we have also obscured the face of Jesus in His Church, we henceforth desire to do everything to make It radiate, working on our own sanctification.
We have come accordingly to let ourselves be fully renewed in the Holy Spirit, yielding to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we received at our priestly ordination. We have come to receive from the Father’s heart, through the hands of Mary, Queen of Peace, a new burst of love for Jesus, a new zeal, a new apostolic thrust.
We desire to become worshippers in love with Jesus in the Eucharist, thus courageous apostles of the Love that gives Life, ready even to lay down our own lives in order to protect life and save love.
We thank God for the mystery of our Church. We desire to love It as Jesus loves It and, ready to shed our blood for It, to work with all our strength for It’s Unity, for the communion of the sister Churches, in the fullness of love and truth, so we can all know the joy of faith.
We affirm our loyalty in heart and soul to the Holy Father, the servant of communion, the warrantor of Truth and the champion of life.
We affirm our love for the divine Truth revealed in God’s Word which nourishes us everyday, and our fidelity to the great Tradition that is alive in the Church of the East and the West.
We desire to be servants of the poorest, the most fragile, of the people that life has wounded the most, so that divine love may shine forth and so people may touch the heart of God.
We desire to be consumed without reserve to offer the truth that sets free to the most poor, for whom hope and life is lacking: to those who do not know yet that God loves them. We desire to radiate the Gospel and do all that is possible to be able to give divine life to youth that are so lost.
We thank God for the courage of the martyrs of this century that, by wars and totalitarian regimes, has caused more deaths than all the preceding centuries, especially among our brother priests. We not want our infidelity to render their blood unfruitful, rather on the contrary, to bear fruit, being proud and worthy of these our elder brothers. Are we not the sons of their tears, their prayers, their love? Of one thing, we are certain: we owe to their blood, shed out of love, the great outpouring of the Spirit that is renewing the whole Church.
And finally, we bless the Lord who confides our priesthood and our ministry to the Holy Mother of God, the Mother of Christ’s priests, the Mother of the Church, the Queen of heaven and earth, the Queen of Peace and Reconciliation.
We have come here to thank her for the countless fruits of this pilgrimage place, which we have recognized with the faithful in all of our countries. We thank her for all the signs of her Motherly Presence at this decisive time of passing from one millennium to another. She constantly reminds us of the Gospel, she leads lost children toward the Father, she points us to our future: the return in glory of our Saviour who will transform our poor bodies into His Glorious Body.
In expectation of our final Resurrection, may Mary keep us faithful to the end and make us saints for the joy of the whole Church on earth and in heaven. Amen.
Medjugorje, June 30 - July 6, 2000
Participants in the fifth Retreat for Priests
6th International Meeting for Priests
“Priest – Servant of the Divine Mercy”
Medjugorje, July 2nd to 7th 2001
The Sixth international meeting of priests took place July 2 to 7, 2001. There were 243 priests from 36 countries (United Arabic Emirates, Montenegro, Nigeria, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Vietnam, Hungary, India, Uganda, South Africa, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Canada, Rumania, El Salvador, Mexico, Argentina, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, Ireland, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, USA, England, Belgium, Austria, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina). The theme was “Priest – Servant of the Divine Mercy”.
This year’s preachers were Msgr. Robert Rivas, bishop of Kingstown (St. Vincent and Grenadines, Caribbean), Fr. France Spelic, Fr. Bennet Tierney, Fr. Jacques Philippe, Fr. Jozo Zovko and Sr. Elvira Petrozzi.
They meditated and spoke about “The life God wants from a priest”, “Prayer – a way towards God’s Mercy”, “Priorities in priestly life”, “Priest, a mystery of Divine Mercy”.
During six days, priests were attending the conferences, sharing, praying and celebrating the Eucharist in communion with the people of God. The day before last, they climbed the Cross Mountain praying the Way of the Cross, and the last day, they celebrated the Morning Prayer at the tomb of Fr. Slavko Barbaric, who initiated these Priests Meetings in 1996. The meeting was coordinated by Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic.
“We, priests from diverse countries, are gathered for the Sixth Retreat for Priests with the theme: “Priest – servant of the Divine Mercy”. We attended conferences given by Mgr Robert Rivas, Fr. France Spelic, Fr. Bennet Tierney, Fr. Jacques Philippe, Fr. Jozo Zovko and Sr. Elvira Petrozzi.
We want to express our gratitude to the Lord for having called us into His priesthood. Christ confided us His all-powerful and infinite mercy and love to give them to our brothers and sisters. We are encouraged and strengthened by the motherly intercession of the Queen of Peace at this source of grace, who calls us to her Heart to lead us to Her son Jesus, being fed at the source of life, the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
We thank the Lord for His infinite trust in spite of all our weaknesses, refusals and limits. We implore the Lord to give us the experience of forgiveness of our sins, so that we may give forgiveness to others. We promise our fidelity to the Lord in the announcing of his Good News, which was given and confided to us, to bring fruit in the hearts of those who listen to it.
We want to and we decide to grow in holiness, and to seek to know the Lord more and more through prayer, who gives himself to us, so that we may give ourselves to others from day to day without reserve.
Mary gathers us here from all over the world, from diverse colours and races, diverse languages and nationalities, to make us her children, leading us to Jesus Christ. Here, we can hear her voice telling us: “Do whatever he tells you!” (John 2,5). Here, we experienced the beauty of belonging to the Lord and to His Church. We experienced the truth of “how good it is and how pleasant where brethren dwell as one” (Ps 133/132, 1).
We renewed our love and our Yes to the Lord and to His Church. We want to discover the merciful face of Christ through personal sanctification, so that the infinite treasure of His Mercy may be seen through our lives.
We express our availability to witness for the Lord to all who are erring and seeking peace, love and happiness far away from the Lord.
We put the whole Church, the whole world and ourselves under the protection and the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Queen of Peace, that she may protect us and guide as her beloved children.
Medjugorje, July 2 to 7, 2001
243 priests participants of the 6th International retreat for priests
They also addressed a letter to the Holy Father John Paul II:
Dear Holy Father,
The 6th International Meeting of Priests in Medjugorje, which attracted about 250 priests, sends You greetings and our filial love.
Our Conference this year was on the Priest – Servant of the Divine Mercy, and we listened to Mary’s call to do works of mercy out of love. As we return to our various countries and communities, where we minister to our people, we return as missionaries of Mercy.
At Medjugorje, we prayed for You and asked Our Blessed Mother to care for You in a special way in Your pastoral ministry to the whole Church.
We now express our loyalty to You and our availability to serving the Church. May Mary, the Queen of Peace and Mother of Mercy, smile at You today. God bless!
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Bishop Robert Rivas, Kingstown, St. Vincent
Fr. Jacques Philippe, Community of Beatitudes
Fr. Bennet Tierney, Legionary of Christ
Fr. France Spelič
For the Parish of Medjugorje:
Fr. Ivan Sesar, Parish priest
All the priests, participants in the retreat
7th International Meeting for Priests
“Priest at the service of healing and deliverance”
Medjugorje, July 1st to 6th 2002
The Seventh International Meeting for Priests at the school of Mary took place from July 1 to 6, 2002. There were 483 priests from 36 countries.
8th International Meeting for Priests
“Servant of the Eucharist”
Medjugorje, June 30th to July 5th, 2003
The Eight International Meeting for Priests at the school of Mary took place in Medjugorje from June 30th to July 5th, 2003. There were 340 priests from 32 countries, speaking 16 languages.