The Philippines’ five-day Second National Congress of the Clergy (NCC II) ended on Friday after unexpectedly drawing more than 5,500 priests from 87 dioceses and from abroad. Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, preached for the retreat aspect of the gathering.
The surge in participants was so great that organizers said they ran out of kits and other materials, as they had only prepared 5,300 kits, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines reports.
“We added another hundred, for the rest we just gave plastic folders with handles,” said Henrietta de Villa, former Ambassador to the Holy See and chair of the NCC’s Central Coordinating Committee.
The Congress, which also served as a retreat, had Fr. Cantalamessa as its preacher.
He spoke of the need for interior renewal and led priests in meditation on the Eucharist, the sacrament of Reconciliation and the vow of celibacy.
“Only in the Philippines can these things happen, so many priests in one gathering,” Fr. Cantalamessa remarked.
The NCC II’s attendance figures surpassed that of the international gathering of priests in Ars, France last year. That event reportedly drew about 1,500 priests.
On Thursday Fr. Cantalamessa addressed the laity on the topics “The Relationship between the Clergy and the Laity” and “Marriage and Family according to the Bible.”
He also addressed a Franciscan gathering on Friday after the Congress.