Pope chooses Portuguese priest-poet to lead Lenten retreat

Pope chooses Portuguese priest-poet to lead Lenten retreat

Pope chooses Portuguese priest-poet to lead Lenten retreat

A reflection of the colonnade is seen as Pope Francis sits inside a bus at the Vatican heading to Ariccia, south of Rome, to make his Lenten spiritual exercises in 2017. (Credit: Tony Gentile/Reuters via CNS.)

Father Jose Tolentino de Mendonca, who also serves as vice rector of the Catholic University of Lisbon, will guide Pope Francis and top members of the Roman Curia in their meditations Feb. 18-23 at a retreat house in Ariccia, outside of Rome.

ROME — Pope Francis has chosen a Portuguese priest and poet to lead his 2018 Lenten retreat.

Father Jose Tolentino de Mendonca, who also serves as vice rector of the Catholic University of Lisbon, will guide Pope Francis and top members of the Roman Curia in their meditations Feb. 18-23 at a retreat house in Ariccia, outside of Rome.

According to the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, the overall theme of Father de Mendonca’s meditations will be “In Praise of Thirst.”

The 52-year-old Portuguese priest will give 10 talks during the retreat, beginning with a meditation titled “Apprentices of Awe.” The other presentations include examining the meaning and experience of thirst, “the thirst for nothing,” “the thirst for Jesus,” tears and thirst, desire and “the beatitude of thirst.”

In addition to being an award-winning poet, Father de Mendonca is a biblical scholar and a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Born in December 1965 on the island of Madeira, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1990.

During the retreat, all of the pope’s normal appointments, including his weekly general audience, are canceled.

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