On Tuesday 8th December at St Saviour’s Church, in the Old City of Jerusalem, the day on which the Universal Church celebrates the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, another reason for joy was added to this festivity: three Franciscan friars minor were ordained as deacons in the same celebration.
Fr. Jean, Fr. Juan and Fr. Simon, from Congo Kinshasa and Peru, received the ministry of the diaconate by imposition of the hands of His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who presided the celebration of the Eucharist. The Holy Mass was concelebrated by the Custos of the Holy Land, Francesco Patton, Fr. Dobromir Jasztal, vicar of the Custody, Fr. Marcelo Ariel Cichinelli, guardian of the convent of St Saviour and Fr. Donaciano Paredes, master of the theology students who live and study at the convent in the Old City.
“When God creates, he places limits, a limit is a necessary condition for existence,” said His Beatitude Pizzaballa in his comment on the reading of the day. “God frees us from the illusion that to have a full life we must not have limits, be without boundaries or possess everything all by ourselves. God reminds man that to be happy he needs a relationship with God and freedom is expressed in this relationship.”
“In Mary, faith exceeds suspicion: she recognizes her own limits, she knows she is only a creature, but she believes immediately that the limit will be overcome, not by her abilities, but by the power of God,” the Patriarch continued. “She entrusts herself to this power, she trusts this good God who gives life, a fertile God, and asks nothing.”
The celebration was intimate, restricted to a group of Franciscan friars and a few sisters who work with the Custody of the Holy Land, but it was available in streaming thanks to the live broadcast of the Christian Media Center. In conclusion, it was Fr. Juan who, speaking on behalf of the three new deacons, said, “We thank God, the source of every perfect gift. We want to take advantage of this occasion to thank our beloved ones, in particular our families, for the gift of life. We are sorry for the distance and the impossibility of being physically present with us, because of the pandemic.”
The thanks of the three deacons was followed by that of Fr. Patton, who in the first place thanked His Beatitude Pizzaballa, "and we have to learn to live within the limits, as His Beatitude reminded us, but at the same time, this does not mean that they must prevent us from living what is essential for us: our faith, our relationship with the Lord and our celebrating,” said Fr. Patton referring back to the Patriarch’s homily. In conclusion, he turned to the deacons saying, “the diaconate is something that remains, because it is the distinctive mark of Christ who becomes a servant out of love for the Father, out of love for us. Continue living these months of diaconate, always remembering that it has to remain as a style of Franciscan consecration.”