Pope Francis has entrusted the 2014 Lenten Spiritual Exercises to a Roman parish priest and popular spiritual director, Monsignor Angelo De Donatis, 59. Since 2003, he’s been the pastor of the Basilica Parish of Saint Mark the Evangelist Church near to the Piazza Venezia.
The Lenten Exercises will be held 9-14 March closing the Curial offices and Papal meetings not taken. What theme Monsignor De Donatis will preach on is unknown.
The Casa Divin Maestro (Divine Master House) is operated by the Society of St Paul, located in Arricia, in the Alban hills, 30 miles from the Vatican. The Society of St Paul is a religious community of men founded by Blessed Giacomo Alberione, who also founded several other religious communities including the Daughters of St Paul; the work of Alberione’s Pauline family has something to do with social media and evangelization.
The change in location seems to be the first since the Exercises were first conceived in 1964 by Pope Paul VI. The now retired Secretary of State, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone SDB, sent a letter to curial officials saying the Pope wanted the Exercises made “in a recollected, silent fashion, away from the office.” By the looks of it, a smaller crowd is expected due to the size of the retreat facility.
Yet another example that Pope Francis is asking that the Curia and therefore, us, to take seriously the spiritual life.