WASHINGTON, D.C. – Catholic bishops from across the United States will begin the new year taking part in a seven-day spiritual retreat at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago, January 2–8, 2019. Capuchin Friar Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, will direct the retreat on the theme “He appointed Twelve, to be with Him and to Send Out to Preach,” taken from the Gospel of Mark.
The retreat is taking place at the invitation of Pope Francis, who has asked all bishops in the United States to pause in prayer as the church seeks to respond to the signs of the times, according to a release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The structure of the retreat will emphasize quiet reflection, including silent meal times, and will offer daily Mass, time for personal and communal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, vespers, and an opportunity for confession. The next business meeting of the USCCB is scheduled for June 2019. No ordinary business will be conducted at the January retreat.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the USCCB, expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis for offering the services of his personal preacher for the retreat.
“I am grateful to the Holy Father for calling the bishops and me to step back and enter into this focused time of listening to God as we respond to the intense matters before us in the weeks and months ahead,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “I also humbly ask the laity, our priests and religious for your prayers for my brother bishops and me as we join in solidarity to seek wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Pray also for the survivors of sexual abuse that their suffering may serve to strengthen us all for the hard task of rooting out a terrible evil from our Church and our society so that such suffering is never multiplied.”
In February, Cardinal DiNardo will participate in a Vatican summit on the clerical sex-abuse crisis and child protection. Pope Francis announced in September that he was calling all the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches and representatives of the leadership groups of men and women religious orders to the Vatican to address the crisis.