This priest encourages drivers to 'be merciful on the road'

This priest encourages drivers to 'be merciful on the road'

Father José Aumenté presents Pope Francis with a reflective vest of the Spanish bishops' highway ministry. Photo courtesy of Fr. José Aumenté.
Father José Aumenté presents Pope Francis with a reflective vest of the Spanish bishops' highway ministry. Photo courtesy of Fr. José Aumenté.

.- As more drivers hit the roads in the U.S. and Europe for summer road trips, a priest in Spain is ramping up his 'highway ministry' to promote safety and to care for those who spend much of their lives on four wheels.

Father José Aumenté  is the head of the Spanish bishops' highway ministry, which began after a priest was aided by a trucker on Christmas night in 1962.

“A priest had to go from one town to another and didn't have a car. A truck driver stopped to help him and on the way he told him about his life, how hard it was to be on the road all the time, and how on such  a very special day as Christmas he wasn't going to be able to have dinner with his family because of a mishap on the trip,” Father Aumenté told CNA.

This made an impression on the priest, who then started the highway ministry, which was adopted by the Spanish bishops' conference in 1968, and is now entrusted to Fr.  Aumenté.

This year the highway ministry is being joined to the Year of Mercy under the theme “Blessed are the merciful”, reaching out to all those who find themselves on the road: truckers especially, as well as those who drive taxis, buses, or ambulances.

The message is also being addressed to those “who spend a good part of their time behind the wheel because of their work, necessity, or to enjoy vacation. Also motorists and cyclists, and pedestrians as well, who one way or another make use of the public thoroughfares.”

This was seen in a recent blessing of semi-trailer trucks Fr. Aumenté made in Albacete.

“It was a very beautiful day because the family comes along with the truck driver. They get into the cab, which is a very special place for them. I blessed the truck with holy water and gave them a holy card of Saint Christopher which has a prayer for the driver,” the priest explained.

The highway ministry also cares for those who are suffering the loss of a loved one who died in motoring accidents, as well as those injured in accidents. Last year, almost 2,000 people died in motor accidents in Spain, 400 of whom were pedestrians.

The ministry also holds a Mass each November in memory of those who died on the roads; a day is set aside in May to console family members and those whose lives were changed as the result of an accident.

Given the millions of trips taken every summer throughout the world, Father Aumenté encouraged drivers to be “merciful on the road.”

“All of us have been driving and insulted other drivers for their bad driving. So it's important to know that when you're in a car and on the road, you also have to give way and be merciful.”

“Performing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy also benefit those who do them, and in this case the use of a car also provides an opportunity to perform them,” he noted.

He also encouraged taking advantage of going on a trip to pray, and recalled the words of Blessed Paul VI: “enjoy life while you're on the road and lift up your spirit to God when you see a church's  bell tower rising over a town.”

Tags: Spain, Catholic News, Year of Mercy