Feast in Nazareth: new deacons and new priests for the Custody of the Holy Land

The smiles on their faces reflected their joy. Feeling emotional and somewhat nervous, 14 friars of the Custody of the Holy Land entered the church, waiting for the moment that they had dreamed of for years and that perhaps, without God’s help, they would never have truly believed possible. At the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, hundreds of people from all over the world gathered to attend the moment of the diaconal and priestly ordinations of the Franciscan friars of the Custody. The ordinations, which usually take place in Jerusalem on the day of Saints Peter and Paul, took place in Nazareth on the following day, June 30, this year. Among the two newly ordained priests were Fr. Ayman Charbel Bathish (from Nazareth) and Fr. Oscar Emanuel Parra Alvarado (from Mexico) and 12 new deacons, from different parts of the world, from Mexico to Congo.

The mass was presided over by Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in the presence of other bishops of the Patriarchate and of the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton.
Mons. Pizzaballa’s homily began precisely with the episode of the Annunciation. “The question that Mary asks the angel, when she realizes that she will be given a child by God, is a fundamental question for each of us: how can this be?” said the bishop. “Within this question, there is the meaning that dominates life; there is the acknowledgement that we are called to something bigger, that we cannot reach on our own.” Thus, Mons. Pizzaballa went on to explain that Mary knew how to be humble, because “true humility is being able to recognize that everything is a gift.”

Speaking to the ordained friars, he recommended: “Dear brothers, know how to recognize the gift that has been given to you, which is greater than yourselves and does not belong to you. Know also that in this choice, the only guarantee is God’s fidelity.” All of the friars were sitting in the front row, at the foot of the altar, and many of them, after years of joys and fights, were reaching the moment of ordination. Mons. Pizzaballa warned the friars not to worry about pleasing everyone at all costs and that the priesthood is not a desire for prestige and power, but “to save.” “The priest loses himself; he gives himself to others,” he explained.

Then came was the moment for the vows of the 12 deacons and of the two priests and for the laying on of hands. In front of family and friends, each man pronounced his “Yes, I want it.” Each with his own fears, defeats, desires, and with the power of God who works miracles. The newly ordained prostrated themselves on the ground, during the invocation of the intercession of the saints to ask for help in their mission. The friars of the Custody of the Holy Land welcomed the new deacons and priests, embracing them one by one on the altar.
At the end of the mass, the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, expressed his congratulations and thanked all those who participated. Words of thanks also came from Fr. Ayman, who represented all of the other ordained friars: thanks to God, first, and thanks to the family for the gift of life, thanks to all those who shared their joy.

The Ordained

Fr. Ayman Charbel Bathish
Fr. Oscar Emanuel Parra Alvarado

Br. Alonso Hernández Parra
Br. Anselme Kpakpo
Br. Carlos Adrián López Ramos
Br. Clovis Luis Bettinelli
Br. Eduardo Masseo Gutiérrez J.
Br. Giscard Sikama Ouambi
Br. Jesús Emmanuel Farías R.
Br. José de Jesús Alcaraz Valle
Br. José Manuel Ávila García
Br. Joseph Kamwashi Samba
Br. Josip Ivkić
Br. Michael Muhindo Kyamakya

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