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The Custody welcomes Br. Ayman: his solemn profession in Nazareth

“Here I am,” replied Br. Ayman Bathesh, after being called by name. This is the first word uttered by the young friar of the Custody of the Holy Land on the day of his solemn profession at the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. His “yes” to the Lord’s call happened in the place of the most famous “yes” in history: Mary’s. On Saturday, October 1, a celebration was held at Br. Ayman’s former former parish church, and it was attended by all of his family and friends. Parents processed in first, ahead of their son, carrying an icon of Jesus with the disciple John. “I ask that I may follow the teaching and the footprints of Our Lord Jesus Christ and be accepted permanently in this brotherhood, professing until death, with holy diligence, the Rule and the Life of the Order of Friars Minor,” said Br. Ayman. Before the community of the faithful and all of the people in his life, he committed himself to embracing the life of poverty, chastity and obedience that St. Francis chose for himself and his brothers.

In his homily, the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton explained with three words the call to follow Jesus: gift, faith and service. The first, because vocation is a gift from God; the second, because trust and loyalty lead to perseverance in our response to the call; and the third because it is a call to serve others. “Dearest Br. Ayman, I wish that you may have a noble heart, and thereby be capable of serving the humble and the poor, in the school of St. Francis,” said Fr. Patton. Answering “yes” to God is therefore equivalent to Mary’s “yes.” “Here I am!” recalled the Custos “is also the profound meaning of the gesture that you will complete at the offertory, when you will put the formula of profession on the altar, written with your own hands and spoken with your own lips. This gesture will mean: I am present to the point that I unite the offering of my life to the offering of yours.”

With great emotion, Br. Ayman replied “yes, I want this” to the priest’s questions regarding his commitment to follow the Lord, to love his brothers and to devote his life to witnessing to the Gospel. At the time of the litany, he was prostrate on the ground at the center of altar so as to invoke the help of the saints. After reading the formula of the profession of faith in Arabic, Ayman was welcomed into the brotherhood with a hug by the friars who went up to him on the altar one by one. The newly professed friar then came down from the altar to embrace his parents and closest relatives in an emotional atmosphere for those present.

Before the final blessing, Br. Ayman expressed his joy: “I want to thank God for the gift of life and and the consecrated life. Once again, I thank the Lord for the gift of my family who has wished to be with me during this important step of my life. I cannot forget my brothers today who welcomed me into the brotherhood.” He also thanked the Father Custos, Fr. Francesco Patton, the former Custos, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the bishops present—including Mons. Kamal Hanna Batish, the Bishop Emeritus of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the pastor of Nazareth, his spiritual director Fr. Najib Ibrahim and all of his teachers. “I ask you to pray for me, for my family and for peace in Syria,” concluded Br. Ayman.

The celebration continued with a dinner at the Benedict XVI parish center. A man and a woman sang Arabic love songs to piano music, in keeping with what had just taken place: Br. Ayman’s answer to God’s love.

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