FORMER Ambassador to Vatican Henrietta de Villa said the attendees of the Second National Congress of the Clergy (NCC2) were requesting for a third convention.

De Villa, who also headed NCC2, said the request came after the attendees were inspired by the talks of Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Papal Household Preacher.

"They would like for this (gathering) to be a more regular thing. If you recall it was five years ago when we had the 1st Congress of the Clergy. So this time they are hoping for another congress maybe in two year’s time,” she said.

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On the other hand, the visiting Vatican official was overwhelmed with the number of participants in the just concluded congress of the clergy.

De Villa said Cantalamessa was surprised when he saw many priests in one gathering.

“I’m not comparing since each place has its own grace. But the retreat called in France gathered only 1,500 priests and that was an international event,” she said.

A total of 5,542 priests attended the five-day meeting held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, from January 25-29.

The organizers of the event and the participants have expressed gratitude for the presence of Cantalamessa. It was Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales who invited him to talk in the congress.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Rosales gave Cantalamesa an image of St. John Mary Vianney at the end of his address Friday afternoon, to show their appreciation for his visit to the country. Cantalemessa is scheduled to fly back to Rome on Saturday.

Aside from the image, the visiting Vatican official also received a priest’s stole, t-shirt and poster of the event.

The congress of clergy was capped with 1.2 km procession.

The priests wearing white vestments walked along the Roxas Boulevard stretch from Buendia to the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City where the closing Mass of the congress was held.

A bus was provided for those priests who got tired of walking.

Also part of the procession was the three images of St. John Mary Vianney, St. Joseph and Mother Mary flanked by the bishops and priests.

Archbishop Rosales reminded them of the importance of pastoral charity in their ministry.

“The greatest measure of love is for someone to give his own life for a beloved. Thus, the priest may be asked to die many times by giving up his position, surrender his ambition and make do with less even amidst plenty for the sake of many who have none,” he said, in his homily.

“Pastoral charity is the name of this kind of love lived by the priest who imitates Christ in his self-giving and service and enables him (the priest) to think, act and relate with people like Jesus Christ,” he added.

At the same time, he urged priests to pray to Mary so that she may teach them how to live simply and how to be humble.

“Encourage us that the littlest thing we can do out of love for God is greatest when we awake in Eternity with Jesus our Son,” said the Cardinal. (FP/Sunnex)