Ministering to Ministers: The Vision
It is well known that Father Eymard had a great affection and concern for his fellow priests (Rule of Life #44). His much-quoted saying: "I would leave everything for priests" is a clear testimony to this fact. Many of his earliest companions in the Congregatin were diocesan priests who were attracted to Fr. Eymard and his Eucharistic vision. Internationally, the congregation has always ministered to priests in a special way through the Priests Eucharist Association, Magazines (e.g. Emanuel), preaching retreats to priests, hearing confessions, opening our communities to visiting priests, and most recently with the work of Trinity House in Chicago. In Sri Lanka, too, we have ministered to priests through confession, counseling, retreats, seminars, hospitality, etc. It is in this context that the proposal to open a Vacation House for priests and their families should be seriously considered.
An SSS Vacation House would, first of all, provide a restful, prayerful, and relaxing environment for priests and their families, a place where they could spend quality time together. Secondly, it would promote greater collaboration between the SSS and the diocesan clergy and other religious institutes. Thirdly, "mini-courses" on Eucharistic theology and spirituality could be an optional feature, thus updating priests in these areas. Fourthly, priests could be introduced to the LITE (Life in the Eucharist) seminars and Eucharistic resources, like the Eymardian Writings, Eymardian Biographies, three volume Manna series, Emmanuel magazine, and the Eucharistic Encyclopedia that is in the making.
In other words, the SSS Vacation House would be seen as ministry to priests and their families in an explicitly Eucharistic context. The SSS religious who would administer the house could model the values of our Rule of Life by the way in which they live together and minister to their guests. This in turn may edify, attract and stimulate the interest in young people of the priest's families to the Congregation either to be religious or lay associates.
The Provincial Chapter of the Province of "Christ the Bread of Life" (Sept. 12-16, 2005) adopted the "Eymard House of Priests" as an integral expression of SSS Charism, Ministering to Ministers.
Further, the Chapter identified it as a New Ministry to be launched to mark the Golden Jubilee of the SSS presence in Sri Lanka, 1956-2006.
A house with four large dormitory-style bedrooms, two small bedrooms, an Oratory, surrounded by rolling hills of tea plantations with road access, and water and electricity facilities.