Prayerful Conclusion to Custodial Chapter

After twelve days of intensive work, the Custodial Chapter ended in prayer. The capitular friars gathered in the Saint Saviour Monastery church for Vespers on Friday the 12th of July, and again at the Holy Sepulchre for a final time of prayer together.

These twelve days not only saw the election of a new government that, together with the Custos of the Holy Land, will oversee the choices and decisions of the Custody for the next three years, but also provided the opportunity to recap the last three years.

During the Chapter reports were given by the friars who are in charge of the Custody’s various commissions, as well as by those few laypeople who are key to life in the Custody.

Working groups of friars proposed general lines to be followed by the missions. The Chapter also heard about particular experiences, such as those of the friars missioned to Syria and Lebanon. These testimonies provided an understanding of how, in very tense environments, the missions are reinventing the Franciscan presence while adapting to new realities. This continuous adaptation is always at the heart of the Custody’s concern in all its activities everywhere that it serves.

Fra Renato Beretta, Visitator General, presided over the chapter, the end of which will mark the end of his appointment. The Custody thanks him for his work, not only during these two weeks, but for the past several months.

The Chapter was also a time for important meetings, notable among which were those with the new Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, Fra Michael Anthony Perry, who came from Rome for a special day of work and dialogue; and with the patriarch, H.B. Mgr. Fouad Twal, and the Nuncio and Apostolic Delegate, Mgr. Giuseppe Lazzarotto. Everyone exchanged greetings, encouragement and thanks for the accomplishments of the past three years.

One of the subjects considered during the chapter was vocations and formation of the young religious. Always a delicate matter, as it takes into consideration the world from which the young people come, as well as religious life in general and Franciscan life in particular, as well as the exigencies of the Custody as a specific province. This year, the young friars in formation were able to make their voices heard for the first time in a custodial chapter. Coming from some ten different provinces around the world, each arrives with his own cultural background along with the choice of Franciscans life made in his country of origin. The reality of life in the province of the Holy Land can be a divine surprise, but it can also shake the rhythm of life and studies in the seminary, punctuated as it is by pilgrimages and visits from official delegations. The exchange was fraternal and enlarged the horizons of the older friars, as well as of the young.

During the first meeting of the Discretorium at the beginning of August the “families” will be composed. Following the tradition of the Order, the friars move to different monasteries and undertake new missions in different parts of the province.

At the heart of the capitular friars’ prayer was peace in Syria, success of the mission in the service of God and the local peoples, as well as vocations to enrich and support the Custody in an ever more demanding mission. The Custody asks everyone to join them in this prayer, and wishes a pleasant summer to all.

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