Mission Week in Lithuania
Thanks to the support of ACN’s donors, it was truly a feast of faith on a grand scale.No fewer than 110 priests from all over Lithuania came to the retreat forpriests in June 2010. Following it, some 500 people took part in the solemn Holy Mass, while another 1,500 visitors poured into the auditorium of the Catholic University in Kaunas to hear the main address by Capuchin Father
Raniero Cantalamessa, the renowned Vatican preacher.
The "Mission Week" was organized by the Catholic evangelization center in Kaunas. Ahead of the meeting, its director, Jeronimas Serebrinskas, had turned to ACN for financial support. In fact, without our aid of $15,500, the meeting could not have taken place, nor could the hymn books, the invitations, the translations, the accommodation, the travel costs and other expenses have
possibly been paid for.
After the retreat, numerous letters testified as to just how greatly strengthened the participants came away from this week. Many of the priests felt strengthened and renewed in their priestly ministry by this retreat, and for many lay people, too, these days were a real source of strength.
Very often priests have to face a whole series of challenges in their daily life and ministry. Most of them are in charge of anything from two to four parishes at the same time and are forced to be administrators rather than pastors. There is a real danger that they will be pushed more and more into this administrative work, rather than living their true, pastoral and priestly vocation.
"To be honest, we have forgotten how to smile sometimes, for sheer pressure of work, responsibilities and sometimes exhaustion, too," says Brother Povilas, who took part in the retreat. "Sometimes I have so many worries and questions about the future in my head that I forget the person I'm talking to. And I also forget that a smile can make a conversation so much
easier." The retreat has shown him that it is possible "to let God smile through me," as he puts it. Priests like him need these days of encounter and exchange from time to time. The time spent together not only enriches them but can above all help to deepen their priestly vocation.
Father Egidijus also feels that these days have helped him "to come back to God, my first love, to be renewed, to find time for prayer and to remember why I became a priest and a monk." He adds, "We tend to forget that the most important things in our lives are prayer and God Himself. Often we
relegate these to second place in our lives. This meeting has recalled us to the most essential things in life."
Father Marius, a young priest, tells us, "I have been a priest for two years.Before the meeting I had never even asked myself what the principal goal of my priestly existence actually is." During the retreat he asked himself,"Why am I a priest?" and found the answer: "It is about giving ourselves totally to others. When I speak the words of Consecration, I am offering myself up, for the good of my fellow men: my time, my talents and my entire life. Since then I celebrate every Mass with this in mind."
There was great joy on the last day of the retreat, when some 500 people came to share in the solemn Holy Mass. Young people from various youth groups and parish groups supplied the musical accompaniment, and there were opportunities for Confession and Adoration. The retreat concluded with a homily by Father Cantalamessa in the Catholic University. As many as 1,500 people flocked to the University Auditorium, which was simply bursting at the seams. Many sat on the steps or listened standing up. Prayer groups from all over Lithuania and guests from all over Europe had come to hear him speak and were delighted when he declared, "Anyone who says that Christianity is dead should come here to Kaunas! Anyone who thinks that Christianity is miserable and backward looking should come to Kaunas!"
Not only the priests felt themselves strengthened by this week. One young man wrote, "This event has given me back my trust and hope that everything is in God's hands. I thank God, and the organizers, for this!"
The retreat director Jeronimas Serebrinskas asked us to pass on these thanks to all the
benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need.
This project is an example of our work. Your donation will be attributed either to this or to another similar project that accords with the pastoral needs that ACN witnesses.