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2012
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Holy Land – Visit and Formation Meetings

At the invitation of the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, Ivan Matic, OFM, Assistant General of the OFS-YouFra, paid a visit to the Holy Land where he met many brothers and sisters who are members of the OFS and Franciscan Youth in the cities of Nazareth, Jericho, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Jaffa.

The organizer and program coordinator of the meetings was Br. Marcelo Cichinelli, OFM, Moderator for Ongoing Formation in Custody. Together with Br Toni Choucri, a student who follows the OFS fraternity, they accompanied Ivan during the whole time of his visit.

The first day of the visit was devoted to meetings with the OFS and Franciscan Youth groups. Meetings were very interesting and exciting. In a family shared atmosphere, they the various situations that the Secular Franciscans and the Franciscan youth are facing today in the Holy Land. In all these meetings Ivan made a general presentation of the OFS and the Franciscan Youth in the world, highlighting some important aspects of their identity and mission in both the Church and in society. Another important point was also the subject of spiritual and pastoral assistance to OFS and Franciscan Youth.

Also on the evening of November 28 in the Custodial Curia of the Holy Savior in Jerusalem, there was a meeting with all the student friars of the Holy Land. The meeting was also attended by their Formation Director Br. Noel Muscat and vice-director, Br. Giovanni Loche. In a fraternal atmosphere, Br. Ivan introduced the students to the reality of both the OFS and Franciscan Youth as well as the role of spiritual and pastoral assistance. On the 29th of November, the feast of All Franciscan Saints, a formative meeting with the parish priests and spiritual assistants of the fraternities existing in the Holy Land took place at Curia of the Custody. The theme of this meeting was “Spiritual and Pastoral Assistance to the OFS.” On the evening of the same day there was a very significant Formative meeting. It was the first since all members of the Franciscan family were asked to share three very beautiful moments on the Feast day of All Franciscans Saints, that is, Formation, celebration, and an evening of Fraternity. The formative theme was “The Secular Franciscan Order: Origin, History, and Timeliness” by Br. Ivan. After the presentation, there was some time for discussion and questions. Also present was the Custos of the Holy Land, Br. Pierbattista Pizzaballa. Later on, all the participants went to the church of the Holy Savior for the celebration of solemn vespers presided over by Br. Ivan. After vespers, the participants went to the refectory of the Friars to share dinner together with the whole community; they were all received with great joy by Brother Artemio Vitores, Guardian and vicar of the Custody.

On the last day of the visit, Ivan met with Br. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custos of the Holy Land, to share with him his experience of the visit and the formation meetings that took place through out. The meeting also discussed future steps that need to be taken necessary for the reality of the OFS, of YouFra, and especially in the area of spiritual and pastoral assistance. A great need for renewal and a deeper awareness of what both the OFS and the Franciscan Youth today are all about was sensed in all the meetings. Also strong was the great need to have a close and continuous communication with all the international fraternity.

Currently, in the Holy Land there are hundreds of professed members in the OFS and as many young people living the Franciscan spirituality. For more information on Holy Land, go to www.custodia.org

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