In celebration of the 2018 Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons in the Philippines, an estimated 770 priests and 15 bishops from the 16 dioceses in Northern Luzon Philippines converged in Baguio City at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Atonement for the Northern Luzon Clergy Retreat from July 16-20, 2018. “To Be One With the Lord” is the invitation of the homilist during the Opening Mass, Bishop Valentin Dimoc of the Apostolic Vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe.
Reflecting on the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Bishop Dimoc pointed out that we usually encounter God on the mountain: (God tested the faith of Abraham on Mt. Moriah; God gave the 10 commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai; Jesus was transfigured on Mt Tabor; the prophet Elijah defended Israel’s faith in God on Mt Carmel, and the Northern Luzon Clergy are called by God to this Cathedral of Our Lady of the Atonement to be one with Him.
The main presider of the Opening Mass, Archbishop Marlo Peralta, is the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia, Ilocos Sur, the first diocese created in Northern Luzon, and may rightly be called the mother archdiocese of all the dioceses in this part of the country. Archbishop Peralta reminded all priests-concelebrants to offer all their Masses throughout the 5-day retreat for the intentions of the donors offered through the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
Since the retreat covers the 3-day invitation of the CBCP (July 17-19) to all the faithful to prayer, penance and almsgiving to invoke God’s mercy and justice on those who have blasphemed God’s Holy Name, who slander and bear false witness, and who commit murder or justify murder as a means for fighting crimes in the country, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan and ACN Philippines President, elaborated that the 3 days of prayer, penance and almsgiving were imposed by the bishops on themselves, but inviting all the faithful to do the same. Archbishop Villegas encouraged all the priests present to give alms for the persecuted Christians particularly in Nigeria, Egypt and Syria.
Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, is the main facilitator of the retreat. He will give a series of talks on the theme: Renewed Servant-Leaders of the New Evangelization. In his opening conference, he led the Clergy to reflect on “Now Is The Time Of Mercy” by quoting Romans 5:20: My grace is sufficient for you. Following the advice of St. John Paul II and Pope Francis, Fr. Gaitley encouraged the Clergy to overcome cynicism by trusting in Divine Mercy.
All throughout the retreat, the Clergy together will pray their morning and evening praise, say the Rosary, and spend Holy Hour in silence. The highlight of the retreat will be the Forum and the Solemn Mass of the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, DD on July 19.
– Fr. Reynaldo Romero
ACN Philippines Ecclesiastical Assistant