When Bishop Chris invited us to preach the retreat, he asked us to develop a program that would help the men to be happy, holy priests. We built our talks around the theme "Priests in the Image of Jesus and Mary," using a quote from Blessed Columba Marmion (who was beatified with fr. Chaminade in September 2000): "Priestly life consists in reproducing in our personal life the image of Jesus . . . In order to imitate Christ fully, we must be, like him sons of God and sons of Mary. Jesus wishes to share with us without reserve all his most precious possessions, all that he is."
To illustrate and develop these ideas we used a variety of images of Jesus and Mary taken from both classical and contemporary sources ranging from the earliest known statue of the Good Shepherd to Byzantine icons to modern watercolors of Mary, Our Lady of Light. Each priest received a copy of "Mary and the Priestly Ministry" written by a Marianist priest, Fr. Emile Neubert for meditation. DVD's about the Shroud of Turin, the apparitions at Fatima, and the lives of Pope John XXIII and Archbishop Oscar Romero offered more viewpoints on the quote from Henri Nouwen we used to open the retreat: "My deepest vocation is to be a witness to the glimpses of God I have been allowed to catch."
Signs with themes for each day's reflections were posted around the chapel where we met. By Friday they filled the sanctuary:
June 21: "My deepest vocation is to be a witness to the glimpses of God I have been allowed to catch." Henri Nouwen
June 22: "The priest is a gift from the heart of Christ, a gift for the Church and for the whole world. Pope Benedict XVI
June 23: "Mary's pure capacity for Christ: in her humility she existed for God, for her Son and for the redemption of sinners." Fr. Emile Neubert SM
June 24: (Feast of the Birthday of John the Baptist) "The voice is John, but Christ is the Word." St. Augustine
June 25: "The priest gives joy to Jesus. The priest gives joy to Mary. The priest gives joy to souls." Fr. Emile Neubert SM
Fr. David Galvin SM, a Marist priest from Boston, arrived in the Solomons in 1966 after a 45 day journey on a freighter that took him from the Brooklyn Navy Yard through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific via Tahiti. In his almost five decades as a missionary, Fr. David has been a teacher, the local Marist Superior, and a parish priest. Many of the priests on the retreat were his former students, and all of them have benefited from his example of quiet presence, devotion to prayer, and priestly fidelity. These days in his "retirement," Fr. David serves as chaplain at a school for the handicapped located on a remote part of the island of Makira (site of the very first Marist missionary effort in 1844). The school at Nana has no electricity and is a three hour walk from the nearest medical clinic. When Fr. David arrived in the Solomon Islands there were no native priests. At the retreat he was surrounded by dozens of them, the fruits of the seeds planted by courageous and generous missionaries over the past century.
Small World Note #2: In discussing our Irish ancestry, I discovered that David's grandfather and my great-grandfather came from the same small town of Caherciveen on the Cork-Kerry border. In the extensive kinship relations of the Solomon Islands, this makes us "wontoks," cousin-brothers who share the same land and language. -- Bro. Tim