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2012
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Franciscan Family Joy: With the Minister General and the Definitory of the Order around the Holy Grotto of the Annunciation

Nazareth, 29 April 2012

At 7:00 in the morning of Sunday, April 29, the Minister General, Brother Jose Rodriquez Carballo, accompanied by Brother Miroslaw Jadlosz, was at the Monastery of Saint Clare, where he celebrated Holy Mass for some 30 Poor Clares who had gathered in Nazareth especially for the arrival of the Minister General.

After visiting the Holy Places of Nazareth in the course of the morning, the friars of the government of the Order gathered at the Basilica of the Annunciation where, at 11:30, the Vicar General, Brother Michael Perry, celebrated the Mass of the Annunciation. Concelebrating were the Custos of the Holy Land, Brother Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Guardian of the Sanctuary of Nazareth, Brother Ricardo Bustos, and other friars who were present. At the end of the celebration, having removed their liturgical garments, they returned to the grotto to chant the Regina Coeli. A lovely photo of the group, with the Minister General, the Father Custos, and the group of Definators general, sealed this meaningful moment.

At 12:30, the Franciscan community shared a formal luncheon in honor of the members of the Definitory General, who were joined by a group of friars from Jerusalem who would accompany the guest friars on this special pilgrimage, particularly with regard to the liturgy and biblical reflections of the retreat program.

In the early afternoon, at 2:30 p.m., an official meeting took place between the Minister General and the Abbesses of the Poor Clares of Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Lebanon. A letter of greetings signed by the sisters and friars was sent to the Poor Clares of Alexandria in Egypt, who were unable to take part in the meeting. Also present on this precious occasion was Brother Stephane Milovitch, Guardian of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem and chaplain for the Poor Clares of Nazareth.

On the occasion of the Spanish pilgrimage of the Royal Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Caceres province, at 4:00 p.m. the Minister General celebrated Holy Mass in front of the Holy Grotto of the Basilica of the Annunciation of Nazareth, offering the pilgrim group the opportunity to live a particularly moving moment of spirituality and prayer, accompanied by the blessing of the mosaic representing the Spanish Estremadura province.

Finally, at 6:30 p.m., still before the Holy Grotto of the Annunciation, Brother Carballo presided over the Solemn Vespers, along with the Father Custos, the members of the Definitory General, many friars from all over the Galilee, the Poor Clares, and many male and female religious form the various congregations of Nazareth. After the Lectio brevis, the Minister General addressed words of affection and encouragement to all present with evangelical freshness and joy, renewing in the hearts of all present the taste of the Christian message and a profound sense of the Franciscan mission, especially in serving the Holy Land. The prayer was animated by Brother Carlos Molina, solo cantor at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and a Poor Clare sister, together with the Shalom and New Life communities, who are responsible for the animating the liturgy in the Nazareth Sanctuary. In conclusion, the Minister General invited the Franciscan friars and the Poor Clare sisters to come forward to the Grotto, which had been opened especially for the occasion, to renew their religious profession. A moment of intense community prayer, of deep and vivid emotion, of authentic ecclesial communion, concluded with the exchange of the Franciscan greeting of “peace and good”.

The day, rich in meaningful events, ended with a fraternal meal in the Franciscan Casa Nova of Nazareth, where the large Franciscan family met in joy and sharing, thanking the Lord and Our Lady for the great gift of the Franciscan vocation, constantly spent in the service of God and the Church.

Text by Caterina Foppa Pedretti
Photos by Miroslaw Jadlosz

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