The Twelfth International Seminar for Priests took place in Medjugorje from 2 to 7 July 2007. he theme of the seminar was, “With Mary, waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit”.
The preacher of this retreat was supposed to be Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the Pontifical House, who was unable to come because of unexpected circumstances. He was replaced by Prof. Dr. Tomislav Ivančić (born 1938), former Dean of the Catholic Faculty of Theology in Zagreb (Croatia), at present Director of the Institute for the Fundamental Theology, founder of the Community “Prayer and Word” and of the “Center for spiritual help” where the Hagiotherapy (Healing with the Holy) is applied, founder of the School for Evangelization and of the School for Hagiotherapy.
628 priests from 46 countries from all five continents took part in this retreat.
Mons. Sebastian Thekethecheril, bishop of the diocese Vijayapuram (India), was present during the whole seminar. He also concelebrated during the Evening Holy Mass.
Every day began with the prayer of Laudes in Latin, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, led by Fr. Ljubo Kurtović, which was followed by lecture given by prof. Dr. Tomislav Ivančić. During the midday break, the priests had the possibility to remain in silent Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. In the afternoon, there was a lecture followed by the Evening Prayer Program in the parish church.
During the seminar, the priests climbed together the Apparition Hill where they prayed the Rosary, they also climbed together the Cross Mountain praying the way of the Cross, after which they had the occasion for Confession. On the last day, the prayer of Laudes took place at the tomb of Fr. Slavko Barbarić, a Medjugorje chaplain, who started these retreats.
The seminar was simultaneously translated from the Croatian into nine languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Slovak, Russian and Hungarian.
The lectures were broadcasted live by Radio Maria for Austria and South Tyrol.
The priests were received freely in the families of the parishioners, and different Medjugorje Organizations and Peace Centers from all over the world were also involved, because they helped financially those priests who had difficulties to find financial means for traveling.
Austere words that veil a priestly experience, which could be resumed in one common denominator: experience of the Universal Catholic Church.
Impressions of the priests
„A very positive experience. The spirit of Medjugorje is attracting by itself. I came in order to encounter here priests from all over the world, to experience communion with them, union with Christ independently from different places in which we live, independently form different services that we are giving. We are here together, we belong to Christ, we belong to Mary, we came in order to encourage one another and to go forward.”
„Coming to Medjugorje is like coming to Heaven. For me, the most beautiful is Adoration.”
„This is my first participation in this retreat, and my third coming to Medjugorje. For the first time now, I can say with personal inner conviction: Our Lady is really appearing here. This is really a holy place, where we know that Heaven is touching the earth through the Mother of God. This year for the first time this became so clear to me, and became my personal conviction. Before, I believed what others say about this, but I was not so much interested. After I came to this conviction, I began for the first time to read the Messages conscientiously, namely the message given to Mirjana on July 2nd. I was incredibly touched, because for the first time I heard a message speaking about tenderness, about Our Lady’s tenderness, about Jesus’ tenderness. In the retreat, father Ivančić spoke about this very amply, and I told myself: this fits together. I was deeply touched. I am a member of the Focolari Movement; we are not especially connected to Medjugorje, although we call ourselves “Mary’s Work”, although we want to be like Mary with all our lives. Until now, I was not clear about how to connect this with Medjugorje, but I think that I have understood now.”
„This is my first time in Medjugorje. I came, because I have seen many fruits. There is one thing that disturbed me always a bit: I had the impression that, here in Medjugorje, Our Lady is talking so much. But, seeing the fruits, I told myself: I am going to see. I am very pleased. It is very quiet and very beautiful. I believe that I will be back. The retreat is high quality, in the spirit of prayer; I am deeply touched by the Evening Adoration, which is very simple. What is lived here is very simple and very deep. I am very pleased.”
„I came because Our Lady - somehow - “caught me in her net”. Not a trap but a net. I am saying for a long time now that I want to come and see what Medjugorje is. I had told to one of my parishioners to bring some brochure from Medjugorje. She came back recently and brought a leaflet announcing a retreat for priests preached by Raniero Cantalamessa. Cantalamessa is not here, but I am in Medjugorje, and I know that here the Blessed Virgin is pouring on us the graces of Her Son. Last week, another of my parishioners was here. She had rejected her faith and the Church. In Medjugorje, she found her Lord again. Therefore, maybe I will also meet the Lord in a deeper way here.
„I was surprised by the change of the preacher, but I see in this the action of the Holy Spirit who likes to confound our plans. In this retreat, I understood that I should not try to save my parishioners first, but myself! If I sanctify myself, they will follow me.”
„This is the third time that I participate in the retreat for priests. I am glad that Tomislav Ivančić is preaching. I have heard him three years ago, when the seminar helped me to change my life. I was hoping that also this year God would speak in a special way. The coming of Prof. Ivančić is the answer to my prayer.”
„I like it very much. I wanted to come for the priests’ retreat already last year, but I could not. Every year. I am coming two or three times to Medjugorje for personal prayer. I like to be alone here and to experience the presence of Our Lady. I was here about thirty times, only five or six times with groups of pilgrims. I also brought my bishop here. I do not know what would have happened if another preacher had come. This is excellent. Prof. Ivančić is treating very interesting questions. He is giving right answers to many questions of our times. I am happy that he is here.”
„I like that Prof. Ivančić is speaking about humans in general. Our priestly mission is universal, for the whole world.”
„This is my third consecutive time to participate in this retreat. Intense spiritual atmosphere. Prayer is very strong, the presence of God can be felt very strongly. Eucharistic celebrations and Adoration have deeply impressed me. I hope that all this will bring fruit when I come back home. I thank God for the possibility of being here.”
„The lectures resound in my heart, especially the central importance of our relationship to Jesus, which needs to be permanently deepened. The necessity for a priest to be another Christ. People need Jesus and not our own stories.”
„The preacher is speaking about Jesus and about the Church. I am coming every year for this retreat. I am a member of the community “Mother of Peace”, which was founded 15 years ago in Belgium. This summer, our bishop is going to recognise us as religious congregation. On the solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady, our members will be allowed for the first time to make final vows for life, and I will be ordained a priest on October 6, the vigil of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.”
“I was studying Patrology in Rome, and now I am serving in Italy. It is there that I heard about this retreat, and I decided to come. During the retreat, very good themes are treated, and in a humble way. Preaching is contemplative. It is visible that the preacher is a man who has experience in prayer and in contemplation. When he is speaking about God, about the love for God, it is visible that he lives what he says. He has met God in prayer. This is what impresses me most, as well as that he told us that we, catholic priests, have answers to the questions that the world is asking, but these answers do not come from us but from Jesus who is God and man. We have to give these answers to the world, which is sekking everywhere, in other religions. And we do have the answers.”
„This is my third time here. This is an excellent retreat, very important, helping us in our spiritual growth, in our priestly life and in our pastoral work.”
“I am a free collaborator of Radio Maria. For several years now, we are broadcasting live through the radio the Youth Festival and the Priests’ retreat from Medjugorje to Austria and South Tyrol. It is a wonderful task to spread in this way the Glory of God, and to be at the service of the Mother of God.”
„Two and a half years ago, I took part in the international retreat for priests in Ars, where the Holy Priest of Ars was parish priest, and this inspired me to come to Medjugorje. Here, a priest gets an extraordinary sense of the Church. Here, we really experience the Universal Catholic Church in her diversity; we all live the same thing and we come from so many different cultures.”
Priests from following countries took part in this retreat:
Europe: Austria, Belgium, Byelorussia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech republic, England, France, Croatia, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Leetonia, Hungary, Moldavia, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine.
Asia: Azerbaijan, India, Kazakhstan, Thailand.
North America: Canada, USA.
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chilli, Dominican republic, Columbia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Nicaragua, Porto Rico, Venezuela.
Africa: Cameron, Nigeria, La Reunion.
Impressions of the bishop Sebastian Thekethecheril, bishop of the diocese Vijayapuram (India)
“Today, I celebrated the Holy Mass at 10 o’clock. I said that this is the most beautiful place in the world, because the Most Beautiful Woman appeared here. And why is she the Most Beautiful Woman? Because she has conceived the Most Beautiful Person – Jesus Christ. And since she appeared here, this place is the most beautiful place. I am coming from India, from Kerala, which is such a beautiful place, and I come here, and I am saying this is the most beautiful place, because Our Blessed Mother appeared here. Why is She so beautiful? Because She was full of Grace. And here, we can see the graces, especially during this retreat. So many priests, over 600 priests are here, and I see all of them happy. And why? Only when people are filled with the Holy Spirit, they can be happy on the outside also. I have also this experience. I was longing to come here for so many years now. I had a problem with the visa, and now in the last minute I got the visa, and I came here, and I believe that this is a miracle in itself.”