The Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, with his Definitory, has appointed fr. Alojzy Sławomir Warot as Visitator General of the Custody of the Holy Land and fr. Marcello Ghirlando as Assistant Visitator. The decision was taken at the session of 22 December 2023 and is now made public by the Custody of the Holy Land: “We want to thank the Minister General on the choice and as of now we want to extend our best wishes to the newly elected for a fruitful service in our midst. We pray so that the Spirit of the Lord accompanies fr. Alojzy Sławomir and fr. Marcello in this precious ministry for the Order and the Church in the Holy Land.”
In the Order of Friars Minor, when the new Provincial Minister (in the case of the Custody of the Holy Land, the Custos) has to be elected, a Visitator General is always appointed, chosen from amongst the members of the Order. His task is to accompany the Custody in the period (about one year) preceding the election of the new Custos of the Holy Land, and prepares the Custodial Chapter, where the Vicar and the new Discretorium (the “board” that with the Custos forms the government of the Custody of the Holy Land).
In the coming months, the Visitator will go to the various communities of the Custody, for a canonical visit. “During the visit, he will get to know the conditions of the friars, examine the initiatives, support the activities and above all promote the spirit of fraternity and observance of our Rule and the Constitutions” (cf. General Constitutions of the Order of Friars Minor, art. 213). The professed friars of the Custody will be called to vote twice, from which three names will emerge. These will be sent to the Order for the choice of the new Custos. The Minister General and his Definitory will present the name of the candidate to the Holy See. The appointment of the Custos nevertheless remains the competence of the Holy See.
The Visitator General, fr. Alojzy Sławomir Warot, was born in Toruń (Poland) on 12 September 1964. He entered the Order of the Friars Minor (Province of Our Lady of the Angels) in 1983, he made the solemn profession in 1988 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He holds a Ph.D. in dogmatic theology. In 2003 he was Visitator General of the Province of St Edwige of the Order of Friars Minor, between 2003 and 2009 vice-secretary for Formation and Studies and in 2021 Visitator General of the Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Friars Minor, of the Order of the Friars Minor. He is currently performing pastoral service at the shrine of Our Lady of Kind and Reliable Hope in Włocławek.
The Assistant Visitator, fr. Marcello Ghirlando, is the Provincial Vicar of the Province of St Paul Apostle in Malta. He holds a doctorate in Biblical Theology and obtained a degree in Holy Scripture and Biblical Archaeology from the SBF in Jerusalem. He teaches Holy Scripture at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Malta and at the Major Seminary on Gozo. He is a member of the Commission for the revision of the Bible in Maltese and for nine years was a journalist with the Maltese Biblical magazine L-Art Imqaddsa and Commissary for the Holy Land (1993-2002). His various appointments include representing the Holy See at the International Conference on the Dialogue between Israel and Palestine (June 2011) and for Libya.