MIDWAY — A four-day retreat drew the priests of the Diocese of Salt Lake City to Homestead Resort June 4-7.
The topics of presbyteral fraternity, evangelization, the work of the Holy Spirit and global solidarity were among the topics discussed by the retreat master, Bishop Felipe de Jesús Estévez of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla.
During his homily at the Mass that concluded the retreat, Bishop Estévez said it was fitting that they were celebrating the vigil for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was also the world day of prayer for the sanctification of priests.
“The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus,” Bishop Estévez said, quoting St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests. He urged those gathered to renew their awe and wonder of the Sacred Heart “because we are all rooted and grounded in the love and strength of the love of Christ.”
The solemnity was a reminder that “we are called to look with the beloved disciple and with Mary the Mother of the Lord” at the lance that penetrated Christ’s side, the bishop said, and he suggested that they read St. Bonaventure’s reflection on the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
St. Augustine and other theologians see that the Catholic Church and its sacraments were born from the blood and water from Christ’s side, he said.
“How blessed we are to gaze in contemplation of that love of Christ for us and especially … that he has granted us the priesthood for the Church,” Bishop Estévez said. “The priesthood has not been granted for our own exultation or for our own aggrandizement; the priesthood has been given to us in spite of our unworthiness for the sake of the Church.”
The retreat allowed the priests days of quiet, calm, leisure and fraternity to be transformed and renewed in spirit so that they could then go forth to be lights for the world, the bishop said.
“For us to be light for the world is by caring, pastoral caring,” Bishop Estévez said. “It is caring for the flock of the Lord that has been bought by his blood. And caring especially for suffering humanity – for the sick, for the dying, for those who need counseling, for those who need hope, for those who are discouraged, for those who are addicted, for those who have lost hope.”
As the Mass began, Bishop Oscar A. Solis asked the priests to lift their hearts “in the spirit of gratitude, recognizing the tremendous blessings that we have received from God, being members of the presbyterate of the local Church of the Diocese of Salt Lake City.”
Bishop Solis also thanked God for giving them a few days of fraternity. He echoed Bishop Estévez’s message, saying, “Now it is our responsibility to go back to our respective parish communities … in order to re-distribute the blessings and joy that God has given us here in these days of retreat. … May God continue to bless us, and may the graces we have received renew our priesthood and the zeal for ministry so that we are now eager, filled with joy and enthusiasm, to continue to become missionary disciples of Christ.”