The six Franciscan friars who pronounced their solemn professions on Saturday 16 October in the hands of the Custos of the Holy Land Fr. Francesco Patton come from different provinces of the Order of Friars Minor and from four different countries. In St Catherine at the Nativity’s church in Bethlehem, there were several religious men and women of the Holy Land, as well as the guardian of the convent, Fr. Enrique Segovia and the brothers of the Custody.
After prostrating themselves during the invocation of intercession of the saints, the friars promised to observe for their whole lives the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and to embrace the rule of the Order of Friars Minor.
Those making the solemn profession included two members of the Custody of the Holy Land (Fr. Antonios Habib, Egyptian, and Fr. George Haddad, Palestinian), two from the Province of the Word Incarnate of West Africa (Fr. Aubin Amouzou, Fr. Luc Ashorgohor from Togo) and two others from the Foundation of Our Lady of Africa (Fr. Jean Kogba Mogoda, Fr. Vianney Bonald Foungui from Congo Brazzaville).
“You can profess together your commitment with the Lord Jesus Christ, because He has already shared our life and has put us in a position to get close to Him and to follow him with trust,” the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, said in his homily. “He is our form of life and also warns us against a wrong way of interpreting the call to follow him and the gift of consecration, which is belonging wholly to Him.” According to Fr. Francesco, we have to discover first of all what God has done for us, to then learn how to welcome and appreciate the gift of the vocation.
“I can honestly confess that when I made my solemn profession 35 years ago, and I was a young friar aged 23, I was much less aware than today of what welcoming and embracing this call in all its beauty and depth means, just as I was less aware of what the difficulties and the trials to face were to be,” Fr. Patton revealed. “Yet beauty and difficulties, greatness and trials, all this is part of our call to follow in the footsteps of the Son of God incarnate, to learn to become authentically human.”
The Custos of the Holy Land warned against the danger of going back on “the commitment to obedience which is the commitment to trust oneself,” “the commitment to poverty” and the “commitment to live chastely, which is the commitment to love the Lord with an undivided heart and to keep it as the real good, the only good, the greatest good of our life, the true real love.” He then invited all to pray so that those who had made their solemn profession can carry on the promise made before the whole of the Church with sincerity and perseverance.
When the Mass was over, Fr. Antonios, Fr. George and Fr. Jean spoke in the name of all those who had made their solemn professions. On this day of joy, they wanted to say thank you for the gift of life, for the support of the family and for the participation of all those present. They also wanted to express their gratitude to all those who had been important for them on the path of formation, from Fr. Donaciano, the master of the students, to all the Provincial Ministers of the different Provinces to which the newly professed friars belong.
“We thank God for his merciful fidelity,” said Fr. George. “We give ourselves to his grace to that each one of us can be His trusted and powerful servant, ready to serve through a correct testimony of life, asking for the strength to be faithful and perseverant on our path of consecration and to be increasingly aware of the gift that we have received.”