Pilgrimages for priests to Velehrad have a tradition

10. 4. 2013

Velehrad: The main motive of this year's meeting is renewal of faith of the participants and their consecration. Priests will be able to take part in a penitential mass as "cleaned for the day of faith", thank for the gift of priesthood and meditate on their own identity and vocation. A remembrance of Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, the most significant Czech theologian living abroad, will be an important part of the program. On Tuesday 16th April three years will have passed since his death.

Some six hundreds of priests are expected to participate in the meeting of bishops, priests and deacons. It will be the first event of this sort in the history of the Czech Republic. However, the tradition of pilgrimages for priests to Velehrad is longer. So far, the last meeting of this kind happened in September 1990. This national pilgrimage of priests, after the fall of communism, had a penitential character and it was an expression of penitence for all mistakes of priests in the period of communism, especially for those who had in any way collaborated with the regime.

"A pilgrimage for priests to Velehrad took place also in 1969, during the celebration of the anniversary of Saint Cyril's death. I participated in this pilgrimage as a divinity school student," remembers the Archbishop of Olomouc, Jan Graubner. Another meeting of priests was hosted by Velehrad on 10th April 1985, as part of the commemoration of the 1100th anniversary of Saint Methodius' death. Even though this pilgrimage took place on a weekday, more than ten thousand people participated in it. In its course, Cardinal Tomášek read the message of Pope John Paul II, asking priests not to succumb to fear and helplessness and to follow the example of Methodius, and he also asked the clergy present at the meeting to refuse any engagement in anti-regime activities. "This meeting was a kind of a predecessor to the main pilgrimage of that year where Catholics, for the first time, lifted up their heads in a significant way and raised their voices against the regime, which began to fear," added Archbishop Graubner.

This year's pilgrimage for priest in the Year of Faith, which is underway, and at the same time in the course of the celebrations of the anniversary of the arrival of Slavic missionaries is, according to the Archbishop of Olomouc, also a kind of a sign. "Priests, who bear responsibility for the spreading of Faith and spiritual guidance of believers, must first revive the flame of faith in themselves and to profess it clearly. Then, with new enthusiasm, they can build personal relationship with God, which is the basis of faith, in other people," said Archbishop Graubner and added, "If I know whom I believe in, I accept the message of the Gospel and I can strengthen also others in their faith. Thus, also my own faith becomes stronger. Thus, passing on faith means that he, who gains, is not only he who comes to believe, but also the one who passes it on."


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  • Here are our roots.

    (Blessed John Paul II, 22nd April 1990, Velehrad)

    They wanted to become part of those nations and to share their destiny in everything. Here, in this place, at Velehrad, in Moravia, we can feel the historical legacy of the kingdom in a peculiar way – we can feel even those who became its keepers and guardians.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • For us, people of the present age, their apostolate contains even the elocution of the ecumenical appeal, i.e. to build unity again, in a peaceful reconciliation, which later after their deaths was heavily damaged, and in the first place the unity between the East and the West.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • Their work is also a very important contribution to the growth of the common Christian roots of Europe, which by their firmness and viability create one of the main contact points, which must be respected by every serious attempt at reunification of our continent in a new and topical way.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • The story of both brothers, Cyril and Methodius, is a distinct example of unity.

    Saints Cyril and Methodius contributed, to a great extent, to the building of Europe, not only regarding its Christian religious community but also concerning its civil and cultural unity.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

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