The friars who pronounced the solemn profession on Sunday 11th October in Jerusalem come from nine different countries: Congo Kinshasa, Congo Brazzaville, Italy, Syria, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and South Africa. The sixteen Franciscans made their vows to God to live for the rest of their lives in obedience, without owning anything of their own and in chastity, according to the Rule of the Order of the Friars Minor, in the hands of the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton. The celebration took place in St Saviour’s church in Jerusalem, behind closed doors, due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown in Israel. Relatives and friends of the solemn professed were able to follow the Mass from all over the world which was live streamed on the Facebook pages of the Custody of the Holy Land and of the Christian Media Center.
“The times we are living in are times which train us to live our vocation, learning to be in the situation we are in, instead of trying to flee from it,” said the Custos of the Holy Land in the homily. “These are times which educate us about obedience, because it forces us to accept the circumstances we are in. These are times which teach us how to live without having anything of our own serenely and with Franciscan joy, because we realize that in the situation we are in, we are masters of nothing, but we have to accept limitations, sacrifices and even living today in a different way from what we had imagined. These are times which also teach us something about chastity, on the value that our body has and being able to offer it in full to the Lord.”
Fr. Francesco Patton then said that he saw the dream of God that the Prophet Isaiah and also Jesus in the Gospel spoke of being accomplished in the solemn professions and in the celebration: “That of seeing all the peoples of the world coming up to Jerusalem and becoming a single fraternity, which you represent because you come from four different continents, to take part in the wedding banquet prepared for us by the Lord himself.” Fr. Francesco Patton then emphasized that the call received by the sixteen friars is a gift of God and although it is challenging, it will be possible to be faithful, because “He makes it possible” (the complete homily is here).
Before the perpetual vows, the friars prostrated themselves in front of the altar and asked, together with the assembly, for the intercession of all the Saints. They then kneeled to pronounce the solemn profession, accompanied by their godfathers. At the end of the Mass, some friars wanted to thank, in the name of everyone, their families, their directors and in particular Fr. Donaciano, master of the students, and all the Provincial Ministers of the different Provinces the new professed belong to, who were not able to attend this important occasion.
“The path undertaken so far has been marked by different moments,” said Fr. Andrea, one of the solemn professed, “of joy, effort expectations and hopes, but always in a constant relationship with the Lord in total trust and abandonment, in amazement and in wonder, saying, like Peter: “We have left everything and we have followed you.” In front of the Lord’s promise to Peter to give one hundred times as much together with persecutions (Mark 10, 28-31), the friars prayed: “Lord, do of us as you wish, give us the grace to e ready for everything, but Lord, do not leave us for even a second.”