On Tuesday, July 5, a mass celebrated at the Basilica of Nations marked the official start of the triennial Chapter of the Custody of the Holy Land.
The celebration was presided over by the Canonical Visitor, Br.Varnai Jakab, OFM. In his homily, Br. Jakab remembered the significance of the place and the events that took place there. “At Gethsemane,” he explained, “we not only see the revelation of the greatness of Jesus, the Son of God, in the weakness of human nature but also other protagonists, in particular the apostles who were unable to stay awake.”
“At the end of the celebration,” he concluded, “we will return to the city to face the work of the chapter. We are aware of our limitations and our failures. However, the grace of Gethsemane puts the certainty that Jesus is among us in our minds and hearts. May his prayer in Gethsemane and his sacrifice on Golgotha form (now and again) a brotherhood in Jesus’ name.”
The chapter is a key moment for the communities to be able to function. This is in a way the cockpit where several people, each through his own role, will gather around the pilot, decide on the destination and consider the course to be taken in order to reach it.
The chapter is a community exercise in which the friars are regulars. Each month, in fact, in the fraternities hold a chapter meeting.
However, the triennial chapter of the Custody, as the name suggests, is held once every three years. It is, thus, all the more important.
It is presided over, not by the Custos, but by the canonical visitor who has spent nearly a year meeting the various fraternities and being introduced to the realities facing the Custody.
Initially, each of the most important leaders will give a speech, that is to say a report of what was done during the previous three years in order to provide a current status of the activities of which he is in charge.
For example,, the bursar will give a precise explanation of expenditures incurred by the Custody and their purpose, as well as a revenue report. Then, presentations will be made by the leaders of the different committees: training and education, the commission for evangelization, the commission for holy places, the Committee of the St. Paul region (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon), the Committee for Commissioners of the Holy Land, etc.
The former Custos or one of his representatives–given that his appointment as Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has moved around his schedule as well as his status–and the canonical visitor will also speak, as will the new Custos. The chapter will also be an opportunity to renew the Custody’s administration: the Custodial Vicar, the Bursar and the Discrete. The Chapter friars, who were themselves elected by their brothers to represent them, will elect the administration that will serve the new Custos.
The chapter will alternate between plenary sessions and group workshops. The groups are organized by a chapter of the secretariat so as to reflect different facets within the Custody.
And since this is also a time of convivial gathering for the Custody, fifty of the capitulary friars from all walks of the Custody will also take a day trip/pilgrimage to Samaria.
All of this work is, therefore, an opportunity to reflect on the last three years that have gone by but most importantly to decide on guidelines for the next three years.
Since the sessions and debates are held behind closed doors, the official website is not responsible for reporting on the work. But secretariat of the chapter will keep a blog updated in Italian only. It is available at this URL: http://capitolo2016.blogspot.it
On the Custody’s home page, an icon labeled capitolo 2016 can take you directly there.
The new Custos of the Holy Land invites everyone to accompany the chapter with their prayers so that the friars may work in docility to the Holy Spirit toward the mission entrusted by the Church to the Franciscans of the Holy Land.» custodia.org