Or was it 15,000? Let’s just say the place was packed!

June 23, 2010

From Brendan Johnson’s journal:

June 11, 2010
Today we had the Mass for the end of the Year of the Priest and it was an amazing sight!  There were about 15,000 priests concelebrating with the pope,  and thousands of other people besides – when the priests walked out after vesting, it took about an hour and a half for them to completely get out and fill up all of the seats and they arrived in very steady streams down the paths in St. Peter’s Square.

Again, the homily was in Italian, so we couldn’t understand everything that was said, but there were some good responses from those who could, so I’m excited about reading the homily when I get a chance. The only thing that was a little disappointing about the Mass was the number of people who randomly walked in and out of the section we were in. I think that more than a few of them thought that it was just a tourist attraction to watch the Catholics perform their rituals. I’m glad that they were able to stumble in and at least in a small way participate in the Mass – but it was surely heartbreaking to watch them in their ignorance.

After the Mass the pope drove right by where we were standing again and we were able to see him up close again, which was pretty neat. After the Mass we went for lunch at Santa Croce and then I went for an afternoon siesta (sometimes the Italians have great ideas!). After dinner we had a bit of a party for Fr. Heisler who was, unfortunately, leaving us to go back to the States to attend a conference for seminarian formators. It was a good time though – and a lot of good conversation.


10,000 priests and the Pope celebrate their vocation

June 22, 2010

Submitted by seminarian Jason Keas:  

What a great sight to see — Pope Benedict blessing over 10, 000 priests in St. Peters Square in an open car after the  Mass closing the Year for Priests! 

Priests from all over the world fill St. Peter's Square as the Holy Father blesses them

 It was a great privilege to be part of this historic year for priests. The seminarians were seated to the left of all the priests.  We got to the section first and had excellent seats.  How powerful it was seeing priests file to their seats — which took hours —  before the Mass began. They came from all parts of the world, speaking many different languages, and their coming together to celebrate  with the Pope was a witness of the unity and family of the Catholic Church.  We didn’t get a translation of his homily until a few days later,  so when we did,  it was good to reflect again about the event of which we were a part.

A close look at the Holy Father

June 21, 2010

From Brendan Johnson’s journal:  June 10, 2010

Today was the vigil for the end of the Year of the Priest, so we went over to St. Peter’s at about 5 pm to try to get in as close as we could to see the Pope. We were able to get in the very front of the seminarian section and to see pretty well the stand where the presentations were and, eventually, where the pope was to be. He didn’t come in until about 9:30 but there were talks starting at about 8:30 pm.

The talks, I’m sure, were very good, but only a few of them were in English so I didn’t catch much of what was said.   At 9:30 pm when the pope came in, he drove right by where we were standing, so I was about ten feet away from him as he drove around before approaching the altar.  There, he answered questions from priests from all over the world. He answered in Italian, so again, I didn’t understand anything, but it was still really neat to have him answering these questions — and without his notes, too. 

 After the Q & A,  the Blessed Sacrament was brought in, and the pope presided over Adoration and Benediction, which was incredible! Everyone went down on their knees in St. Peter’s Square and went completely silent to receive Benediction.   After Benediction ended, we got back to Fraterna Domus (late), but the sisters let us in so that we could go to bed for a few hours to get back up for the Mass the next morning.

Year of the Priest ends

June 12, 2010

From seminarian Jeffrey Gardner:

Yesterday (June 11, 2010) was another big day. Not only was it the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but we attended the closing Mass for the Year of the Priest. I believe there were 10,000 priests in attendance, plus thousands of seminarians. Once again, what a powerful experience! I was also about ten feet from the Holy Father when he rode around in the “popemobile” after Mass!

Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations

June 9, 2010

“Pope Benedict XVI has declared a “Year for Priests” beginning with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009. The year will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father from June 9-11, 2010.

With the announcement of this Year for Priests, the Pope has declared St. John Vianney the Universal Patron of Priests on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé d’Ars.”

The above is from the “Year for Priests” website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  For more information, here is the link:


Fr. Eric’s 2009 Rome Experience journal — Day 26

May 21, 2010

Friday, Day 26:  Rome

We took the 118 to the Catacombs of San Sebastian and got there a little before 10:00.  After the tour, we had Mass in the catacombs, a very moving experience.  The altar was well-prepared, but they had a clay chalice and paten for our use.  In the future, we might want to bring our own, of a little nobler quality.  We took the 218 back; as it turns out, it is a lot closer to San Sebastian.  That evening, everyone left for the vesper service opening the Year of the Priest.  Those wearing cassocks received better seating than those dressed in a clerical suit.  We returned to Fraterna Domus for dinner at 8, as the sisters agreed to serve dinner a little later than usual.

Year of the Priest begins with a service at St. Peter's Basilica

Rome Experience seminarians Ryan O'Neill and Samuel Morehead at St. Peter's

Pope Benedict XVI’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations message

May 4, 2010

This is an excerpt; for the full text, click here:


Every priest, every consecrated person, faithful to his or her vocation, radiates the joy of serving Christ and draws all Christians to respond to the universal call to holiness. Consequently, in order to foster vocations to the ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life, and to be more effective in promoting the discernment of vocations, we cannot do without the example of those who have already said “yes” to God and to his plan for the life of each individual. Personal witness, in the form of concrete existential choices, will encourage young people for their part to make demanding decisions affecting their future. Those who would assist them need to have the skills for encounter and dialogue which are capable of enlightening and accompanying them, above all through the example of life lived as a vocation. This was what the holy Curé of Ars did: always in close contact with his parishioners, he taught them “primarily by the witness of his life. It was from his example that the faithful learned to pray.” (Letter Proclaiming the Year for Priests, 16 June 2009).

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