Rectors: heads of shrines and first pilgrims of hope

The actual mission of rectors in charge of shrines is to be beacons in the world, to welcome and be the first pilgrims of hope

What is the mission of a rector in charge of a shrine? Father Christian-Marie Donet, President of the Association des Recteurs de Sanctuaire, came to Montligeon with 90 members of the ARS for a 3-day session on the theme “Pilgrims of Hope”. One purpose was to set out the mission of rectors: be beacons in the world, greet pilgrims and be the first pilgrims of hope.

Our shrines are like lighthouses for the world

From our birth to our death, we make progress in our life on earth. This can be compared to a journey, a move, a thrust.

We can experience this journey as a pilgrimage. It doesn’t go from one point to another, but helps us discover who we are, where we’ve come from, where we are going to and why.

Sometimes, the meaning of our lives seems hidden and unclear. For those who feel as if they were walking in the mist or in the dark, our shrines are like beacons overlooking the world and placed on our various paths.

Father Christian-Marie Donet, rector of the Oratoire de la Sainte-Face and president of the Association des Recteurs de Sanctuaire.

Christ, leading the way

In life, we can help each other, regardless of our age. Young people who have been through very difficult, considerable challenges can learn from them in order to help older people.

In our ordeals, we may discover a presence and learn the name of God. This figure, spiritual but human above all, is Christ, walking with us as he did with the Emmaus pilgrims.

Christ leads the way, journeying with those who suffer. He also walks with the risen, with those who enter the life of God. According to the Word of God, Christ is the head leading the body. The Word teaches us that since he was first to rise, he himself is the brother of all those who have risen.

A recipe for hospitality?

To be able to welcome people, we must be open-hearted, just as Christ was. The shrine of Paray-le-Monial is a fine example of this.

To be a good rector, a good greeter, you need to have experienced God’s love for you, and to have realised that God loves you unconditionally. You need to have experienced God’s mercy. We feel His mercy especially when we experience our misery, our weakness.

First pilgrims of hope

Such is our great joy: by placing our hope in Jesus Christ can we effectively cross this path of our humanity as pilgrims of hope.

Gathering of shrine rectors at Montligeon from January 29 to 31, 2024.

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