Seven new deacons ordained in Jerusalem: “Remain servants, like Christ”

Seven new deacons ordained in Jerusalem: “Remain servants, like Christ”

On Saturday 13 April, in St Saviour’s church, in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Franciscan community gathered in prayer and in praise for an important moment in the ministerial life of seven Franciscan Friars Minor.

Fra Ananivi Combey Adamah (Togo), Fra Joseph Médéou Atakora (Togo), Fra Juan David Rodríguez (Colombia), Fra Rito José Mendoza (Venezuela), Fra Antonio Tkalac (Croatia), Fra Langba Zounga Saturnin (Central African Republic) and Fra Noor Amash Tamas (Iraq) received the ministry of diaconate through the imposition of the hands of H.E. Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who presided over the Eucharistic celebration.

The Holy Mass was concelebrated by Fra Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, by Fra Alojzy Sławomir Warot, Visitator General of the Custody, by Fra Milan Krištov, Minister of the Franciscan Province of St Cyril and Methodius  of Zagreb together with many Franciscan priests from different communities of the Holy Land: there were also many religious, men and women, from Jerusalem and local Christians (the celebration was streamed live on the YouTube channel of the Christian Media Center ).

The Easter of the Lord: a real experience

Today the Church, more and before any other pastoral strategy, needs to bear witness of Easter,” said Cardinal Pizzaballa in his commentary on the Gospel, addressing the new deacons. That is, to bear witness that God’s love, shown by Jesus with his death and resurrection, is not a dream, it is not an idea, a story or a fantasy, but a real experience that everyone can achieve.”

During the liturgy of the diaconate ordination, the friars prostrated themselves in front of the altar, asking for the intercession of all the Saints invoked with the singing of the litanies.

The Word of God: nourishment for your Ministry

The Cardinal then imposed his hands on the friars and after the prayer f consecration, gave them the Gospel, with the mission and the duty to announce to the world. “Your service as deacons,” the Patriarch said, “includes not only service at the Eucharistic table, but also service to the announcement of the Word of God. From now on, familiarity with the Word of God must be a constant in your ordained ministry: it is the Word of life and it will gradually give shape to your ministry. It will nourish those who listen to you in the same way that it will nourish you and no differently.”  

In conclusion, it was Fra Noor who spoke on behalf of the seven new deacons, He started by praising and  thanking the Lord “for the great gift of grace to serve His Holy Altar, at the service of the sacraments  from which we draw the plenitude of live of life.” He then extended his thanks to the families, those present and those far away, to the Patriarch, to the Custos of the Holy Land and to all those who had guided them and assisted them on their path towards the Diaconate. 

Remain servants

The Custos of the Holy Land Fra Patton reminded the deacons of the importance of being and remaining servants, with humility and obedience: “Under the chasuble,” the Custos emphasized, “even the Cardinal keeps the deacon’s “tunic”: this means that he never stakes off the apron of service. In “secular” life, there is a career, and the career has a series of steps that rise to reach the top, whereas in the ministry of the priesthood, the steps are those to learn to go down, to become humble, because first Christ, who became a servant, emptied himself and became obedient until death, has to be followed.”

“St Francis himself,” he continued, “who was a deacon never became a priest: just before dying, he asked his brothers to read him the passage of the washing of the feet, to which he was deeply attached. And when he explains to the friars the way of entering the reciprocal relationship, he says that the friars “must wash each other’s feet.” Washing feet, the idea of service is the central one that is inspired by Christ and must also remain central in your life.”

Silvia Giuliano