Over the weekend, three deacons were ordained, including a Palestinian refugee in Jordan. For Fr Ibrahim, Patriarchate chancellor, there are still witnesses of faith and affiliation with Christ in a situation marked by conflict. Advent is a source of joy shared with Muslims. There is “growing feeling of devotion” among the young.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The three diaconal ordinations celebrated over the weekend are "a sign of the vitality of the Church in the Holy Land," said Fr Ibrahim Shomali, chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, speaking to AsiaNews.
In a context still shaped "by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there are still people who bear witness to the faith and affiliation to Christ in his homeland," added Fr Shomali, who, together with Mgr Pizzaballa, presided over one of the three celebrations.
"Of the three, the ordination of a Palestinian, a refugee in Jordan, was especially important,” he explained. “Through his own vocational choice, he placed himself at the service of the local Church. This is very important because places of worship without pastors and faithful are empty, dead."
Last Saturday, the day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the first ordination took place, that of Br Marlon Trinidad Mendez Pavon, 38, who was ordained deacon at the Church of Saint Saviour in Jerusalem. Mgr Girelli together with the Custos of the Holy Land Fr Francesco Patton led the service.
Two months ago, the new Franciscan made his solemn vows, after moving from the Mount Nebo convent. The devotion to Our Lady is rooted in Fr Mendez’s country of origin, Nicaragua, where every year, on 7 December, people celebrate "La Griteria" (Shouting) festival, a tradition that began in Leon and then spread across the country.
Ala 'Saleem Jissa B'air was ordained deacon by the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Mgr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, in the Church of the Annunciation in Beit Jala, last Sunday. Fr Ibrahim Shomali and Fr Yacoub Rafidi, rector of the patriarchal seminary in Beit Jala, concelebrated the service.
The new deacon entered the Beit Jala seminary in 2007 and, after a discernment of almost 12 years, received his ordination.
"The vocations that are born and mature in the Holy Land confirm that we are a living reality, ready to serve those who live in this region,” Fr Shomali explained. “Br Ala 'Saleem was born here and has lived here; he is a child of this land.”
However, the task of protecting the land and making it grow "falls on all Christians, even those who come from outside and whose vocational choice matures here. The whole world has a great responsibility towards the Church in the Holy Land."
After a difficult period, the situation "seems to be improving" for Christians, noted the Patriarchate chancellor. “Pilgrimages,” which are up this year, “are going very well, confirmation" of this trend.
Although politically, "there are no hopes for a better future", unless "leaders’ mindset changes, we must continue to tend to peace and dialogue through faith. For us, Advent is a time of great joy and even Muslims seem to share in it."
In terms of celebrations, various initiatives are planned, from Masses to moments of prayer, from giving gifts to children to actions of solidarity.
In addition, there is a “growing feeling of devotion” that gives hope for the future, “especially among the young” and “the new generations who are seeking more intensively the encounter with Christ."