Sumedha Centre, Jeolikote, was the venue of this year’s Bareilly Diocese Priests’ Retreat which concluded this afternoon.
This is the first time Bareilly diocese is here for a programme after the Pastoral Centre of the Diocese at Jeolikote was handed over to the Salesians in June last year. The Salesians now operate Sumedha Centre for Psychology and Spirituality from the Pastoral Centre.
Thirty eight priests and the bishop attended the retreat. It was led by Fr. Fernando da Costa, a priest of the diocese of Pune and a former Chairman of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Pune diocese. He was assisted by Mr. Francis D’Souza, member of the National Catholic Charismatic Renewal team.
The focus of the retreat was on holiness of life, especially on the call to renewal of life of holiness in this year of the priest. Fr. Da Costa emphasised that priests have been empowered by God to promote holiness among his people. For that they themselves have to strive for holiness. As years pass by the initial fervour and enthusiasm coming from that empowerment can disappear and priests can settle down to a comfortable mediocrity and a mundane life, failing in their call to be burning torches. He used the metaphor of coal covered with ashes to convey this reality. No matter how much incense you pour on that ash covered coal, there will be no fragrance. The only thing one has to do is to brush of the ashes and the embers will light again and the room will be filled with the fragrance. “That,” he said to the priests, “is your challenge. You have to brush of all that diminishes your priesthood, so that the fire of holiness can burn bright again and set the world on fire.”
Mr D’Souza said this was the first time he was preaching to priests. He was very appreciative of the receptiveness of the priests to a layman’s preaching. He was also very appreciative of the facilities and care provided by Sumedha Centre. “That helped the retreat immensely,” he said.
During these five days of the retreat Sumedha Centre was alive with the sound of music. The singing of the priests, especially the Hindi bajhans, was melodious and moving and the musical accompaniment soul-stirring.
God appears to have been showering his blessing on the priests throughout the retreat. It poured and poured! The rain was incessant during the five days, and the mist pervasive, depriving the priests sight of the lovely mountains and the lush greenery, except for some rare glimpse when the weather gods chose to be kind! However, the increased cascade of the nearby stream was delightful to the ear.