50th Anniversary of Priesthood Pilgrimage to Rome

In this article, I just want to briefly share my own reflections on the pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, and Siena on the occasion of my 50th Anniversary of my priesthood. All together we were 25 pilgrims from St. John’s and 2 from Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH). The pilgrimage was from December 2-12, 2018. Those 10 days were fascinating with certain highlights on each day. Here I just want to share my three top highlights:

My first highlight was Wednesday, December 5 at the Weekly General Audience with Pope Francis. We were all anxious to hear the message of the pope. On this day he started a new series of his catechesis on “The Our Father” sub-titled “Lord, teach us to pray”. In his usual simplicity, Pope Francis underlined Jesus as a person of prayer; in his life, it was a prayer that energized everything; there was a profound mystery about his prayer to the Father, and that was why his disciples asked Him: “Lord teach us to pray.” We too need to ask the Lord to teach us how to pray. The Pope concluded by   asking us during Advent to repeat the prayer of the disciples: “Master, teach us to pray.”

My second highlight was the private Mass with Pope Francis at Santa Marta, on Tuesday, December 11. In his brief homily (5 minutes) commenting on Isaiah 40:1-11, the pope started by “Let us allow ourselves to be consoled by God” The entire homily was a beautiful synthesis of the pastoral ministry of consolation, which should always be practiced by Christians. We console other people by tenderness, just as the Lord does to us. After Mass, the pope greeted all priests one by one as well as the lay faithful present at the Mass.

My third highlight was our celebration of the Holy Mass at the Catacomb of St. Callistus on the Appian way.   The main highlight here was the celebration of the Holy Mass at one of the altars underground, surrounded by thousands of saints of 3rd and 4th centuries buried there.

The pilgrimage was meant to help us deepen our faith through the prism of the many sights we visited, in Rome, Assisi, and Siena. 

Monsignor John S. Mbinda