Pope Benedict XVI afforded us the opportunity to accomplish our long held hope of holding an International Conference for anglophone clergy. In calling the “Year for Priests”, the Holy Father pushed us to put aside all the practical and logistical obstacles that seemed before us and to realise the long held hope!

And what a time we had! Over 80 priests from Australia, USA, New Zealand, Ireland, England, Scotland and Nigeria gathered in the shadow of St Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the gift of the Sacred Priesthood, to hear talks of the highest calibre that will assist our priestly ministry, to spend time in fraternal conversation and above all to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries.

The two Confraternities of Catholic Clergy of the USA and of Australia met together and encouraged our priestly brothers from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to form their own confraternity. Please God, this new confraternity will emerge in the coming months.

The Conference was a real “shot in the arm” for those who attended. The celebration of the Sacred Liturgy was dignified, noble and beautiful. We were privileged to have magnificent churches and basilicas, gracious and erudite celebrants and preachers, and magnificent music provided by the “Lassus Scholars” of Dublin. We wish to record the debt of gratitude that we owe to our benefactors and sponsors: His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, The Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta and Granda Liturgical Arts.

Over the years we have been attending Confraternity conferences we have been blessed with some excellent speakers. We have never experienced, however, a conference where every talk and speaker was excellent. On this occasion we did. We were truly graced by the depth, scholarship and practical application of all of our talks. Those who did not attend will have the benefit of reading these talks as they are reproduced in this special issue of The Priest.

The Conference was a success because so many people put hours of work and dedication into the preparation. We wish to express the thanks of all to the following who contributed so much: Fr Mark Withoos, our man in Rome; Fr Glen Tattersall, the major organiser from the Australian end; Mrs Carmel Negline, our indefatigable administrative officer of our Secretariat; and Dr Chris Steward, for his IT expertise and assistance with photography and with booklets (with Hugh Henry).

The special website developed by Dr Chris Steward to publicise the Conference was a great success and contributed to so many priests from diverse parts of the English-speaking world attending. We are particularly grateful for this Special International Conference issue of The Priest, so timely produced by our Editor, and under difficult conditions during his Seminary teaching assignment in Ethiopia.

Our hope is that the bonds forged during those great days in Rome will continue to bear fruit for the Church and for the health and vitality of the ministerial priesthood. The only adequate response that one can make to days such as those we spent together in Rome is: DEO GRATIAS!

Rev John Walshe is parish priest of Mentone in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Victoria, and a founding member and current national Chairman of the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.
Rev Dr John Trigilio is pastor of Marysville in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and current President of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy (USA).