A Sulpician Bishop on Pilgrimage
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If anyone wants to know what a retired bishop does, one Sulpician shows how active they often remain.
At the request of Fr. Vincent Cabanac, A.A., editor-in-chief of the French magazine Pèlerin, Mgr Georges SOUBRIER, p.s.s., retired bishop of Nantes, and a priest of the Society of Saint Sulpice for many years, accepted the leadership of a French-speaking pilgrimage cruise from June 8 to19, 2010. The pilgrims visited holy sites in Montserrat (near Barcelona), Fatima and Saint James of Compostella (in this major anniversary year) as well as the cathedrals of Cordova, Séville, Lisbon, and Porto.
Mgr Soubrier’s duties were simple yet profound. On the one hand, he celebrated daily Mass, which was concelebrated by some twenty priests, and which provided a period of prayer greatly appreciated by the pilgrims, who marveled at the beautiful liturgies. On the other hand, he made himself available to accompany a different group of pilgrims each day, who always delighted in the opportunity to have contact with him and to pose general or personal questions to him, whether on board the ship, during the bus journeys to the sites, or during the guided visits. Mgr Soubrier was always available for his fellow pilgrims. He spoke of his own experience in these terms: "A pilgrim with other pilgrims, a bishop for them, I intensively experienced my ministry in a climate of listening, availability, and prayer—at large and in deep waters!"
This type of “accompaniment” is one of the ongoing apostolates of the Sulpicians whose primary mission is initial and ongoing formation of priests. This spiritual companionship grows out of our traditional Sulpician pedagogy that encourages holistic formation of each person. Many retired Sulpicians continue this ministry, especially in spiritual direction and the preaching of retreats, as well as assisting in parishes on weekends.
Mgr Soubrier, who lives at the French Province retirement home in Issy-les-Moulineaux, also recently contributed to a document of the French Bishops Conference (No. 7 of the Documents Episcopat) devoted to the topic of “diocesan priests today and tomorrow.” His brother Sulpicians wish him continued good health and a productive ministry in retirement!