“Be Witnesses of Love”: New Ordinations on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

As is the case with the most beautiful days in life, perhaps not all of the memories will remain clear in the future, but there is one thing that one cannot easily forget: true joy. The joy that is brought by seeing God’s plan carried out in the lives of men. That same joy could be felt at the Church of St. Savior in Jerusalem when the ordinations of the new friars of the Custody of the Holy Land were celebrated on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, as per tradition. On a warm late June morning, relatives and acquaintances from all over the world saw five Franciscan consecrated men become three deacons and two priests. The true joy could be seen on their faces and on the faces of their families, as well as in the hands of the present that trembled with disbelief at the miracles performed by the Lord.

“I have accompanied some of you on the path of formation toward religious life. For others, I have been a brother who has accompanied [you on] your religious journey for years.” This is how Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa began his homily. The former Custos of the Holy Land, now the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, ordained the friars. Pizzaballa has reflected on the readings, on the solemnity and on the ordinations: “Every turning point is marked by a question asked by Jesus to his disciples about his identity: Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16: 13,15): this is the fundamental question on which every one of life’s real steps is based.” In this way, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate called for a dialogue, because “becoming deacons and priests means to turning life into a dialogue.”

In their new roles, the five ordained friars will be called upon to reveal Christ through their lives: “The Church does not need ministers of the sacred but witnesses of his love.” Mons. Pizzaballa then spoke about Sts. Peter and Paul, for whom “the experience of following Jesus marked a liberation.” Also present was the Father Custos of Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, who presented the candidates to the ministries. Then, at the time of the ordinations with the imposition of hands by the Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, the prayer of consecration and the consent of the young men who said “Yes, I want it.” Br. Ayman Bathish, Br. Jorge Barba Barba, Br. Oscar Emanuel Parra Alvarado were ordained deacons, and immediately after, Fr. Gilberto Hernández Hernández and Fr. Luis Jesús Neri Rodríguez became priests. Great emotion went through the church when the time came to welcome the newly ordained friars into the order. One by one, the friars of the Custody who were present went to embrace the friars on the altar, so as to share their excitement on this momentous occasion .

“I have had the desire to be a deacon and a priest since I was 17,” said Br. Ayman. “Today, I express my gratitude to those who helped me with my formation and who have allowed me to embrace my dream of being minister of God.” Smiles and hugs of pure happiness made their way around the entire church after the blessing. Fr. Luis, a new priest, threw himself in his brother’s arms, as did all of the newly ordained with their relatives. “It is God’s grace to be here to see my ordained son,” said the mother of one of the deacons.

The Custos of the Holy Land also expressed his joy: “We are pleased with these ordinations on the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul. The first thing the newly ordained must not forget is that they are called to proclaim the Gospel.” This is a time of joy, but surely temptations will come. On that day, “remember today,” Pizzaballa said. “Remember not only your ‘yes’ to the Lord but also Christ’s ‘yes’ said to you through the Church. Remember her existence, her fidelity, the freedom that always awaits you.”

Beatrice Guarrera

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