Priests retreat focuses on the virtue of hope

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C.—At a time of increased turmoil and desperation, the Church, through its priests, offers hope. That was one of a number of messages that Father James F. Quigley, O.P., delivered to around 60 priests from the Diocese of Charleston at a retreat Oct. 2-5 in the Kanuga Conference and Retreat Center.

“Hope does not wane,” he told his fellow priests during one of five sessions. “We believe in hope. We will never succumb to hopelessness.”

A longtime faculty member at Providence College in Rhode Island, Father Quigley is currently associate chaplain of the school’s National Alumni Association. His topics at this year’s retreat included: Why the Priesthood?; Priests, Men of Prayer; Priests, Men of Virtue; and the Eucharist.

All photos by Terry Cregar/Miscellany: A group of priests interact as they leave Transfiguration Chapel at the annual Diocese of Charleston Retreat for Priests held Oct. 2-5 at Kanuga Lake in Hendersonville, N.C.

On the topic of virtues, Father Quigley told the men that in times of difficulty, uncertainty, change and turmoil, one virtue “keeps us going all the time, and that is the virtue of hope.”

Father Quigley said he has witnessed difficult years in the Church’s history, citing the changes resulting from Vatican II, the closing of parishes and schools, and the sex abuse crisis. He said that though these and other difficulties may have temporarily, and in some cases unjustifiably, diminished the effectiveness of the clergy, many have developed a stronger relationship with God.

“Without the supernatural virtue of hope, we become just another being,” Father Quigley said. “That can’t be us. That’s not who we are. Hope is despair overcome, and isn’t that what a priest does?”

In his talk on the Eucharist, Father Quigley said the faithful attend Mass primarily to receive Christ. Citing Pope St. John Paul II, he said: “The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. We celebrate the Eucharist because it is there that we really enter into communion with the living Lord, Jesus Christ. We don’t follow a dead man; we don’t follow the memory of some great teacher. We follow the living, saving, Son of God, Jesus Christ.”

Father Quigley said that for priests, the Eucharist is vital to Catholic lives. He shared a moving experience from a few years ago, when he and Bishop Robert Barron were honored to distribute Communion during a Papal Mass in Rome.

In addition to Father Quigley’s talks, each morning the priests participated in lauds, celebrated Mass at Kanuga’s Transfiguration Chapel, and attended exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, vespers, compline, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Father Quigley said retreats should serve as an opportunity to deepen each participant’s gratitude to God. Msgr. Chet Moczydlowski agreed. He is pastor at St. John the Beloved in Summerville, and said the retreat also offered time to reconnect with fellow priests.

“The main thing is to be with the brothers. We just don’t see each other enough,” Msgr. Moczydlowski said.