Pope Francis meets with elderly priests in the San Giuseppe al Triofale parish in Rome 

By Salvatore Cernuzio

May 15 2024

Pope Francis meets some 70 priests who have been ordained 40 years ago or more for a closed-door conversation at a Roman parish near the Vatican, and greets a group of primary school students and children attending catechism classes there.

Pope Francis’ visit to the Roman parish of San Giuseppe al Trionfale, not far from Saint Peter’s Basilica, on Tuesday afternoon, began with a kiss on the head of little Rebecca, 2 years old, daughter of one of the parish catechists, when he hadn’t even got out the car. Then, as he left his white Fiat 500L, he was greeted by the applause of the hundreds of people gathered in the churchyard of the basilica (or even looking out from windows and balconies) and hailing “Francesco! Francesco!”

The church founded by Don Luigi Guanella at the beginning of the 20th century and still run by the Guanellians (also known as Servants of Charity), was the setting of Pope Francis’ private meeting with some 70 priests who have been ordained 40 years ago or more.

A round of meetings with priests ministering in Rome

The gathering is part of a round of visits the Bishop of Rome started in September last year in the five sectors of his  Diocese to meet parish priests, deputy parish priests, chaplains and prefects.

The last meeting was held on 3 May in the Basilica of  Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.

As announced by the Vicariate of Rome this morning,  the next visit is set for May 29 when the Pope will meet priests who have been ordained between 2014 and 2024 .

Pope Francis arrived at the San Giuseppe al Trionfale Parish just a minute before 4pm, leaving about ten minutes earlier from Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.

Upon his arrival, he greeted the vicegerent of the Diocese of Rome, Monsignor Baldo Reina, Bishop Michele Di Tolve, the Diocese’s delegate for the care of the diaconate, clergy and religious life, and the parish priest Fr Tommaso Gigliola.

Then , turning to a group of journalists present he addressed them  with his customary request for prayers for him.

“Why do you always ask dor that?”, asked a reporter. “Because I need it!”, the Pope replied. He also blessed the tummy of another journalist who is pregnant with her second child: “How many months? Be strong!, he said.

A private question-and-answer dialogue with some 70 priests

Upon entering the parish, the Pope was welcomed by three nuns, parish collaborators, who greeted him with a kiss on the cheek: “Thank you, Holy Father… How exciting!”. Waiting for Pope Francis In a hall of the rectory was a group of elderly priests: three rows of grey heads who all stood up to applaud him. Among them, Don Antonio Ciamei, 94 years old, 70 years of priestly ministry. “Let’s pray to Our Lady and then let’s talk!”, said the Pope.

After a prayer, the invocation to the Spirit and a brief presentation by Bishop Di Tolve of the San Giuseppe al Trionfale Parish, the closed-doors question-and-answer dialogue with the priests began. – Vatican News