“Come away to a deserted place by yourselves and rest for a while”
This verse from the Gospel of mark pretty much summed up the days spent in Rota by Bishop Ryan and the clergy of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa.
From Monday until Thursday, Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi, Bishop of Tonga guided the spiritual retreat of Saipan clergy, reflecting on various topics from the second Vatican council to the pastoral planning of the diocese and from the necessity of prayer in the life of a priest to the necessity to reached out to their flock.
On the last day of the retreat, Cardinal Mafi, urged Bishop Ryan and the clergy to ‘wash each other’s feet’, referring to the humble gesture of Jesus Christ of washing the feet of his disciples during the last supper. “Jesus Christ is a ‘free man’ and therefore he had no problem about crawling on the floor while washing his disciples’ feet,” says
Cardinal Mafi. Using this image, the cardinal wanted to emphasize the virtue of service and humility which must be at the heart of every priest.
From the beginning of his reflection, the Prelate from Tonga invited to priests to rediscover that interior silence in their hearts like the prophet Elijah who heard the
whispering gentle breeze while he was on the mountain of God in the midst of hurricane, lightning, fires and earthquake. “make time to be in silence, even 1 or 15 minutes a day and it will be enough to keep your refresh,” says the cardinal.
Bishop Ryan Jimenez invited Cardinal Mafi sometime ago to lead this year’s clergy retreat. having been the president of the episcopal conference of Oceania (CEPAC) and the only cardinal in the Pacific Region, the presence of Cardinal Mafi brings the spirit of CEPAC to the clergy of Saipan.
Well known for his humble simplicity, Cardinal Mafi spoke with ease and serenity despite having admitted that this is the first time for him to conduct a retreat to a Presbyterate. he shared much of his personal experience as a person, a priest and a bishop in order to convey to the clergy his message.
Cardinal Mafi, Bishop Ryan and the priests of the diocese arrived on Monday afternoon and was warmly greeted by the students of Eskwelan San Francisco de Borja accompanied
by their principal, teachers and parents. The guests were treated to a vibrant song of the young students singing: “you are a priest Forever.” The cardinal was extremely joyful of this reception as he recalled once again what he felt during the youth mass last sunday in the cathedral: “i begin my pilgrimage to Saipan in heaven, that is in the presence of the youth!”
This clergy retreat is mandated by the canon law to all dioceses as a time for the priests along with their bishop to be together in a time of prayer, reflection and communion. The parishioners of the two parishes in Rota: San Isidro and San Francisco de Borja expressed their welcome and appreciation to the cardinal, the bishop and the priests by hosting a dinner on Wednesday at Songsong.