RETREAT FOR THE PRIESTS OF CORPUS CHRISTI MOVEMENT
By Fr. F. Sunil Rosario
KOLKATA – The International Corpus Christi Movement for priests that began through the initiative of Late Mother Teresa, now Blessed Teresa of Kolkata had their enriching retreat in Kolkata, Barasat at Proggaloy. The retreat began on Sunday, Feb. 1 with the concelebrated Eucharist, with Fr. Pascual Cervera, as the main celebrant. Mother Teresa before she left her earthly sojourn, took Fr. Pascual to the Holy Father, John Paul II in July, 1997 to receive the blessings. Corpus Christi Movement was the last gift of Mother Teresa to the Church. In a letter addressed to Mother Teresa by the Vatican, Holy Father imparted his apostolic blessings on all the priests who would become a part of the movement in future. The letter says, “His Holiness prays that this initiative will bear abundant fruit for the fostering of priestly holiness and the spiritual renewal of the Church.”
To initiate this movement, Mother Teresa reflected very deeply that the priests throughout the world may exercise their priestly ministry with great devotion to Our Lady and to the Blessed Sacrament. In a message given to Fr. Pascual, she shared her deeper longing and greater reverence for the priests, that they become holy priests in the service pf the world and the poor. She wrote, “Jesus said, ‘I Thirst’, let us all unite and satiate His thirst for love for souls. Let us all together with Jesus fill the world with His love through our works of love especially, may the Corpus Christ inflame the love of Christ throughout the world. Let us pray – Mary Mother of Jesus be Mother to Corpus Christi help us all to be Holy and let God bless us all.”
Fr. Pascual explained how the Lord brought him to this movement. He learnt about the movement way back in early eighties from Mother Teresa. He served in the homes of Mother Teresa for several years as a layman, until he joined in Rome for priestly studies in 1982. He says, “Corpus Christi Movement for priests started by Mother Teresa and Father Joseph Langford, who later founded the Missionaries of Charity Fathers.” In fact, Mother’s desire was to have something for the Diocesan clergy, a forum that will unite them for their personal holiness and exercising priestly dedication and love. Hence, the purpose of the Corpus Christi Movement is to enable priests to share in the Charism and the Spirit given by God to the Church through Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity family.
One of Mother’s last wishes was the promotion of the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests, and in Mother’s words “This comes directly from the heart of Jesus”. She spoke of it as a “little way of holiness for priests”, no matter what their priestly assignments might be.
The Aim of Corpus Christi Movement is an attempt to live the Gospel more fully and faithfully in greater simplicity and poverty of spirit. Jesus on the Cross said, “I thirst”. We as priests hear His call to satiate this thirst for love and for souls when we realize that we are thirsting for His Love. Through our priestly ministry we have the gift to satiate the Thirst of Jesus for souls, and the Thirst of souls for the Love of Jesus. We do this by living our loves centered in the Eucharist, source and summit for our priestly life, and by a complete abandonment to the hands of Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of priests. Jesus is constantly thirsting for our love, so let us quench His Thirst with the gift granted to each priest by working for the salvation ad sanctification of souls – men, women and children.
The entire retreat was for eight days, from Feb. 1-8. The first four days were the days of input sessions, consisting of two talks by the preachers. His Grace Archbishop Emeritus Henry D’Souza, Fr. Garry Duckworth, MC, Fr. Leo Maasburg, Bro. Jesudas, MC and Fr. Pascual Cervera. Each of them spoke very convincingly their personal experience of Mother, her mission and a deeper spirituality she left behind as her legacy to be carried on and spread throughout the world. Mother believed in taking one step at a time, so also bringing souls to God one by one. To be a part of the movement is a special call given by God to those who want to satiate the thirst of all who are in search of God’s mercy, kindness and peace. The remaining four days were more experimential exposure to the homes started by Mother Teresa in Kolkata. In the morning, the priests concelebrated Masses in groups in several houses of Mother Teresa, i.e. Mother House, Shishu Bhavan, Nirmal Hriday, Kalighat, Park Street, Prem Dan, Beatification house. During the days, the priests went to visit some of the centers and remained there to experience life among the inmates, serving them, feeding them and being with them for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, all came back to Mother House to have Holy Hour. On Thursday, Feb. 5, the concelebrated Mass was said at Mother’s tomb. Archbishop Henry was the main celebrant. The retreat concluded on Sunday, Feb. 8 with an Holy Hour at the tomb of Mother. All the retreatants joined this Holy hour and thanked God for the beautiful opportunity provided for them to come and be a part of the spiritual journey.
Sr. Nimala Joshi, MC the Superior General of Missionaries of Charity in her final speech thanked God for the gift of priesthood and thanked all the priests who joined the retreat. She spoke very convincingly the importance of growing together under the protection of Mother Mary and thus becoming ‘Another Christ’ radiating the light if His Love everywhere they go in ministry. All the priests present were called to consecrate themselves to Our Lady. The prayer of consecration was said by the priests in silence, while the sisters sang some of the melodious hymns to praise and thank God. All the priests were invited for the fellowship meal. The sisters were seen serving the priests full of love and care. It was the scene of Cana indeed.
There were 28 priests from nearly 13 countries around the globe, i.e. USA, Argentina, Mexico, Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Croatia, Scotland, Malta. From India, 5 joined among them 4 diocesan and one Religious. Archbishop Henry D’Souza also joined the retreat ad inspired all for his presence and inspiring talks.
Just before Mother died, she wrote a prayer dedicating that to Our Lady and through her intercession for the sanctification of priests throughout the world.
“Mary, Mother of Jesus, and my Mother, you were the first one to hear Jesus cry, “I Thirst”. You know how real, how deep is His longing for me and for the poor. I am yours.
Mother Mary, teach me, bring me face to face with the Love in the Heart of Jesus Crucified. With your help, I will listen to Jesus’ Thirst and it will be for me a Word of Life.
Standing near you, I will give Him my love, and I will give Him the chance to love me, and so be the Cause of Your Joy and so to satiate Jesus’ Thirst for Love of souls. Amen.”