“I will pay my vows to the Lord, in the presence of all his people / In the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem”
The invitation to take part in the solemn profession is introduced by these words of Psalm 116: they are words which became reality on Saturday 15th October, an important day for the whole community of the Friars Minor of the Holy Land, when in St Saviour’s church in Jerusalem, eleven candidates (from Italy, Syria, Iraq, the Philippines, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi and Burundi) concluded their path of discernment and with the solemn profession of vows made their lifetime commitment into the Order of Friars Minor.
The celebration was presided over by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, in the presence of several religious men and women from many countries, the families of the friars, some religious from the Maronite, Syriac and Coptic Churches, as well as the Guardian of the Convent Fr. Rodrigo Machado Soarez and the brothers of the Custody.
Amongst the solemn professed, five belong to the Custody of the Holy Land (fr. George Paolo Jallouf and his brother fr. Johnny Jallouf, fr. Lorenzo Pagani, fr. Mark Vertido Palafox, fr. Noor Amash Tamas), one to the Autonomous Custody of St Clare of Assisi in Mozambique (fr. Joaquim Floriano José), two to the Province of Our Lady Queen of Peace in South Africa (fr. Diphapang Ezekiel Ntsala and fr. Patrick Moholobela) and three friars come from the Province of St Francis in Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius (fr. Amose Daniel Mwale, fr. Joseph Wambugu Kinyanjui and fr. Philippe Nikiza).
“With every effort, with every affection, every emotion”
“You have belonged to the Lord ever since the day of your baptism,” the Custos of the Holy Land fr. Francesco Patton, said in his homily, “but now your belonging to Him becomes deeper and specific through your public profession of observing the gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, living in obedience, without anything of your own, and in chastity. And so this act becomes the answer of your whole person: an answer that involves you with everything that you are. To use the words of St Francis: “With a full heart and a full soul, with full mind and full courage, with full understanding and full strength, with full effort and full affection, with full emotion, full desire and will.” An answer of love that must be definitive and, as our founding father said, “wherever we are, in every place, at every hour, at all times, every day and continually.”
Fr. Patton reminded the friars that evangelical perfection lies in following Jesus Christ day by day, obedient and chaste for their whole lives, keeping their eyes fixed on Him, “allowing Jesus to put us back on our feet whenever we fall, and grasping His hand each time we feel we are sinking,” underlining that it is only thanks to the action of Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit that this special call to follow him can be experienced.
Participation in the celebration became particularly intense when the professed prostrated themselves and listened to the assembly pray to ask for the intercession of the Franciscan saints and of the whole Church: at the end of the litanies, each of them, in their own language, read the formula of the profession in the hands of the Custos of the Holy Land. The joy and the gladness of the friars was expressed with a warm embrace with their brothers present, a moving moment which was also emphasized by a general applause.
The thanks of the professed friars
At the end of the mass, fr. Mark Vertido Palafox spoke on behalf of all the professed, thanking God for this solemn day, for the gift of life, for the possibility of having been able to experience and get to know the Holy Places, for the support of their families (many of whom were present in church) and for the participation of all those who were present. He wanted to express his gratitude in particular to those who had been important along the path of his formation: the Order of the Friars Minor, the provincials, the guardians of the different communities of the Custody and the Discretorium, highlighting the invaluable role in the discernment of the will of God. Lastly, special thanks to the Father Custos of the Holy Land, Francesco Patton, “who received today our solemn vows, in the name of God and the Order of Friars Minor.”