Activities

Vocations “come and follow me”

“Concerning those going among the Saracens and other infidels”

On Wednesday 26th April, for the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the Franciscan presence in the holy places (Since St. Francis disembarked at Damietta in 1217) the Custody of the Holy Land organized a symposium for its Postulants and Novices regarding the Mission and the meaning of being a missionary in the Middle East. Throughout the year, there are planned several events, mainly in Jerusalem, that try to reflect about the history and the important responsibility that the Catholic church has entrust to the Order of the Friars Minor, explaining the complex and contradictory realities that make part of the Franciscan mission in the Middle East (Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Cyprus and Greece).
Therefore, the main topic of the day was “Being a missionary” and the thesis to discuss was the last chapter of the Rule of St. Francis concerning those going among the Saracens and other infidels. The day began with a brief introduction of the current religious, social, political and economical context of the Custody, dictated by the secretary for studies and formation of the Custody, Fr. Giovanni Loche. Afterward, there was a video conference with Fr. Cesare Vaiani, secretary for studies and formation of the Order, theologist and expert in Franciscanism, who explained the history of the ancient Franciscan province of overseas, going through a concrete argumentation of what St. Francis wanted for the mission and his missionaries. Later, father Vaiani gave a complete explanation of the different matters quoted in the Rule of St. Francis, the development throughout the centuries of the Custody and its missionaries that had have lived among the Saracens.
Subsequently, there was a moment of reflection, discussion and work by groups regarding the topics sawn in the conferences right before the celebration of the Holy Mass. In the afternoon, there were two encounters with both groups together, in order to share and synthesize the ideas and thoughts discussed, arriving to some key topics concerning not only the overall idea of the Custody and the mission, but more importantly, their discernment process as candidates to become missionaries in the Holy Land. Some of these themes were, for instance, the importance of the Divine inspiration as the root of the desire of being a missionary; the attitudes and behaviours of the missionaries regarding the interreligious dialogue, particularly when living together with people from other religious confessions; finally, the serious problem of persecution, violence and religious intolerance towards Christians.
By the end of the day, the symposium was finished with the prayer of the vespers together and right after the group of Novices did their return to their home, the convent La Verna. To conclude, the conferences provoked in the postulants and novices, a deep interest and a great solicitude for the mission of the Custody that the friars lead for centuries in the places that are touch by the divine grace, encouraging them to deepen in the comprehension of their vocation, looking forward the mission that God have called them to live.

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