As per tradition, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Custody of the Holy Land had the joy of having its ordinations for the year.
Six Franciscans led the procession of the soon-to-be-ordained priests and deacons, which was followed by some seventy priests.
The celebration began to the sound of Veni Creator, while His Beatitude Fouad Twal incensed the altar.
This is the last ordination that the Latin Patriarch presided over after the Holy See announced that his resignation, which he submitted last October after he reached the age of 75, had been accepted.
Some family members of the ordinandi were seated in the front rows while the rest of the nave was filled with many religious, faithful from Jerusalem and friends.
The different languages of the celebration once again highlighted the international origins of the future clerics.
The Custos of the Holy Land called the ordinandi in Italian in order to introduce them the Patriarch and he confirmed that they had been deemed worthy.
And, carrying on in Italian, the official language of the Custody, the Patriarch addressed them:
“Every vocation,” he said, “has a unique and irreplaceable story behind it; the story of a dialogue, of a call and response, of a love story that begins within the most intimate part of the [human] heart.”
Having emphasized that the ordination was not an end but a continuation of the path to follow Christ, he invited them to “try to grow inside, convinced that your hope is the hope of many men and women, and that your joy may be contagious to those around you, and that your love may know no boundaries, no barriers, no walls.”
Invited to be obedient as Christians, the “yes” to their vows could be heard sounded loud and clear.
After the homily, came the gestures that are unique to ordinations and the ritual of the mass. After that, the joyful congregation met for refreshments at the invitation of the Custos Francesco Patton. The newly ordained were bombarded with requests for blessings. And their joy was obvious. Br. Luis Jesús Neri Rodríguez was a witness to the joy of the mercy that God had shown him: “the path continues and I see this as an invitation by God to be closer to his heart.” Br. Rodrigo Machado Soares was also very moved when talking about God’s call. “Since I entered, twelve years have gone by. And today I feel the grace of God, a God who is so much bigger than us and at whose side we are so small, but regardless, even if we are limited, he gives of himself without measure.” Br. Marko said that he felt tired in the morning, but since the ordination, he has been filled with new strength, to the point of feeling in great form.
It is important to note at that among those present at the celebration was Br. Emad Maria, who was ordained in Egypt on June 7 in the Catholic Coptic rite and who in recent months has officially joined the service of the Custody of the Holy Land. Also present was Br. Dihya Aziz, an Iraqi Franciscan of the Custody, who survived being kidnapped in Syria twice while he was the pastor of a parish in the heart of an Islamic caliphate.
And from Mexico came Fr. Juan Manuel Muñoz Curiel, the superior of the Franciscan Province of Jalisco in Mexico, which sends two new friars to the international seminary in Jerusalem every year.
Together with the Custody’s joy came also that of the Latin Patriarchate, for which the ordinations took place in Jordan.
We send all of our best wishes to all of the new priests, and to all of those who have been ordained today.
Br. Rodolfo Ramírez de la Torre
Br. Eliazar Arteaga Chavero
Br. Gilberto Hernández Hernández
Br. Luis Jesús Neri Rodríguez
Br. Marko Gulin
Br. Rodrigo Machado Soares