Celebrations at the Custody for the new priests

Celebrations at the Custody for the new priests

The Custody of the Holy Land is celebrating for four of its sons who have become priests (you can read their stories here). On 29 June, the traditional date of ordinations for the Franciscans, in St Saviour’s church, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, laid his hands on Lorenzo Pagani and Mark Vertido Palafox. Two other friars, the twins George and Johnny Jallouf, will receive the priestly ordination on 6 July in Aleppo (Syria), their home town.

Friars (and priests) of the Custody

All the friars ordained this year are members of the Custody of the Holy Land, which they reached from different paths. While for the Jallouf twins the choice was in some way more natural, as they come from the Holy Land, fra Mark and fra Lorenzo chose the Custody after having examined other possibilities.

Fra Mark, from the Philippines, got to know the Franciscans in his homeland, but  approached the reality of the Custody through its website  and then coming into contact with the vocational animator. For fra Lorenzo, Italian, fascinated by the Middle East and oriental spirituality, the choice of the Custody came about in dialogue with his confessor.

Who do you say I am?

In his  homily,  Cardinal Pizzaballa took Jesus’ question in the Gospel that had just been read, as his starting point: “Who do you say I am?” The temptation, he said, is to think of Jesus as an extraordinary man, a genius, but still a man.

“You,” he said to the new priests, “have not left everything behind (…) just to go behind some ordinary man, though fascinating. You would be pitied if that were the case. You have left everything,  you are about to become priests, the place of encounter, the presence and image of a living God, One who brought salvation, which every man and the world needs.”

The rite of the ordination

After the homily, there was the rite of ordination. The candidates, after being questioned by the bishop, lay prostrate on the floor, to the singing of the litany of the saints. Immediately afterwards, the Patriarch recited the prayer of consecration.

This was followed by the  vestition with the priestly vestments (the stole and the chasuble), the anointment with the chrism and handing over the chalice and the paten. The new priests then went up to the altar to take part, as presbyters,  in the consecration of the Bread and Wine.

Keep answering Jesus

At the end of the Mass, fra Mark took the floor to briefly give thanks in his name and in that of  fra Lorenzo: “We want to give our lives and spend every moment of our priesthood in the service of the Most Holy Trinity and the reality of this Holy Land.

He was followed by the  Custos of the Holy Land, fra Francesco Patton, for a short address to the two new priests: “I invite you to answer the question of Jesus every day – ‘Who do you say I am?’ and another question as well: ‘Do you love me more than them?’ In the middle there is the path of life and His mercy towards our fragility. When you stumble, the important thing is to get up again, keep following Jesus, loving him  and giving your life for Him.”

Second Vespers and First Masses 

The new priests presided over the Second Vespers of the solemnity of St Peter and St Paul. The First Masses, to which the indulgence for those who attend it is linked, are at St Saviour, on Sunday 30 June at 8.30 a.m. presided over by Lorenzo Pagani, and in the church of St John in the Mountain in Ein Karem, on Sunday 30 June at 8 a.m., presided over by Mark Vertido.

Marinella Bandini