10 Jul

Orient and Holy Land: Ordinary Custodial Chapter – Part II

On July 2-6, 2018, the friars of the Provincial Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land celebrated the second part of their Ordinary Custodial Chapter in Istanbul-Turkey.

The Provincial Custos of the Orient and the Holy Land, Friar Anton BULAI, presided over this fraternal event. Also present were Friar Joaquín AGUESTA CUEVAS, the Assistant General for the Federation of Intermediterranean Ministers Provincial (FIMP) and Friar Teofil PETRIŞOR, the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph, Spouse of the B.V.M. in Romania.
The Capitulars reside in Turkey and Lebanon. Friar Maurizio DI PAOLO, the Procurator General of the Order, met with them and gave a spiritual introduction to start the work of the Chapter.
During the Chapter, Friar Dominique MATHIEU, who had not been present for the first part, was elected a member of the Custodial Definitory. He took an oath to carry out this service with dedication.
Important decisions were made during this Chapter for the life of the Custody. The Capitulars approved the Custodial Statutes and accepted various pastoral and charitable activities. They approved the management of some real estate and some issues regarding vocations and formation animation.
During Mass on the last day, some deceased friars were commemorated, in particular, Friar Alfons SAMMUT from the Province of St. Paul the Apostle in Malta, who spent many years in Turkey. He went to the House of the Father on June 28, 2018.
Also during that Mass, the new guardians took their oath of office. They are Friar Martın KMETEC for the community of Büyükdere (Istanbul-Turkey); Friar Iulian PIŞTA for Beyoĝlu (Istanbul-Turkey); Friar Felician TAMAŞ for Sin-el-Fil (Beirut-Lebanon); and finally, Friar Iosif Florin PETRILA for the friary of Zahle (Lebanon).

Friar Lucian ABALINTOAIEI, Chapter Secretary

 

Capitolo Custodiale 2018 II

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20 Apr

Orient and the Holy Land: Ordinary Custodial Chapter

On April 9-13, 2018, the Provincial Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land held the first part of its Ordinary Custodial Chapter at the Our Lady of the Well Retreat Center in Bkennaya, Lebanon.

Those attending included the Friar Joaquín AGESTA CUEVAS, the Assistant General for the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP); Friar Teofil PETRIŞOR, the Minister Provincial of the Mother Province of St. Joseph, Spouse of the B.V.M. in Romania; and the friars who juridically belong to the Custody. This is the Custody’s third Ordinary Chapter.
During the third session of the Chapter, Friar Anton BULAI was elected to his first term as Custos. The Definitory members are: Friar Roger KOUYOUMDJI, Custodial Vicar; Friar Lucian ABALINTOAIEI, Custodial Secretary; and Friars Dominique MATHIEU and Iulian PIŞTA, Definitors.
We thank the Lord for gathering the friars together for this fraternal meeting. The atmosphere was very warm and joyful.
The second part of the Chapter will be celebrated in Istanbul, Turkey, in on July 2-6, 2018.

Friar Lucian ABALINTOAIEI

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21 Mar

Lebanon: Canonical Visitation

On March 3-10, 2018, the Assistant General for the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP), Friar Joaquín AGESTA, conducted a canonical visitation to the two fraternities in Lebanon belonging to the Provincial Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land of the Province of St. Joseph, Spouse of the B.V.M. in Romania.

The Custody has two friaries in Lebanon: one in Beirut (Sin El Fil) and one in Zahlè, which houses the Custody’s postulancy program and serves as a place to welcome prospective vocations. There are nine friars between the two fraternities: five are in the friary-parish of St. Anthony in Beirut, and four are in Zahlè where various ministries are carried out such as Secular Franciscan (OFS) formation, charity towards the poor and the Syrian refugees, and youth and vocational animation. There are two additional young confreres: one is studying sacred scripture in Jerusalem, and the other studying patristics in the U.S.A.
The Zahlè fraternity is just over fifty kilometers [31 miles] from Beirut. The friars have been there for more than ten years. The church next to the friary is still under construction. About two and a half kilometers from the friary, [1.5 miles] the friars also take care of a hermitage dedicated to St. Clare. It is a pilgrimage destination and a meeting place for faithful participating in Easter and Franciscan events (the Palm Sunday procession, Good Friday and the Pardon of Assisi indulgence).
The Custody is preparing for its next Ordinary Custodial Chapter, which will be celebrated during the second week of Easter.

Friar Joaquín AGESTA, Assistant General for the FIMP

 

Visita Assistente FIMP In Libano

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30 Oct

Lebanon: Chapel of the “Flying Saint”

On September 26, 2017, the Order of Friars Minor in Lebanon dedicated a chapel to the “Flying Saint,” St. Joseph of Cupertino. The chapel is located in the garden of their St. Anthony of Padua friary in Harissa.

On the evening of September 26, as Our Lady of Lebanon looked on, a considerable crowd of faithful gathered outside the small chapel for the blessing rite. It was presided over by Friar Francesco PATTON, the Custos of the Holy Land of the Friars Minor. Others attending the dedication included the Most Reverend Gabriele CACCIA, Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon; the Most Reverend César ESSAYAN, OFM Conv., Vicar Apostolic of Beirut; and Father Ivan SANTUS, Secretary to the Nuncio. There was also a sizeable group of Friars Minor from the Holy Land and Lebanon as well as various representatives of our own Order: Friar Martin KMETEC, OFM Conv, Vicar Custos; Friar Agnello STOIA, OFM Conv., Pastor of the Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles in Rome (who was passing through Lebanon); and Friar Roger KOUYOUMDJI, OFM Conv., a representative of the Provincial Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land in Lebanon. In addition, there was a large group of Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary.
Before the blessing, Friar Francis PATTON made a brief speech about the meaning of the chapel in this Jubilee Year of the 800th anniversary of the arrival of the first Friars to the Orient (1217-2017) and of the 500th anniversary of the infamous splitting up of the Seraphic Order (1517-2017). Our saints remain beacons of light in our search for communion within the same Franciscan calling and charism. Friar Francis mentioned three aspects of the spirituality of St. Joseph of Cupertino: loving God with all one’s heart and strength, praising God with one’s life, and loving one’s neighbor. At the end of the liturgy, the Custos gave a blessing featuring the relics of St. Joseph of Cupertino. They had been given to him by the General Postulator of the Conventual Franciscans.
At the end, everyone present took part in a fraternal agape meal.

Friar Roger KOUYOUMDJI

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10 Aug

Pilgrimage in the footsteps of Saint Maximilian Kolbe with the Friars of the Provincial Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land

From May 21 to 30, OFM Conv. Friars from the Middle East took a spiritual journey to Poland in the footsteps of the Polish Saint on the 100th anniversary of his founding the Militia of the Immaculate.

This year the Friars of Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land held their annual spiritual exercises in Poland. The retreat had a Marian focus as part of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Militia of the Immaculate by Saint Maximilian Kolbe and six other Friars Minor Conventuals in Rome.

 

The retreat was organized by the Custodial Vicar, Father Martin Kmetec, in collaboration with Friar Diarusz Wiśniewski. Each participant was asked to contribute to the pilgrimage by providing one or more of the spiritual meditations and homilies.

 

The pilgrimage began on the evening of May 21 with our arrival at our friary in Warsaw and the joyous welcome of our Polish Friars. After visiting the historical center of the city, Father Dariusz shared a meditation on the theme of Judaism, the relationship with the Church, and Antisemitism in order to prepare the group for a visit to the museum of Polish Jews. During the visit we had the opportunity to better understand the history of Polish Jews, beginning with their arrival in the country up until Auschwitz, and everything that it signified for their religious, political, economic and family existence. In the afternoon we went to visit and pray at the Church of Divine Providence.

 

Our presence in Warsaw concluded with mass celebrated at the altar dedicated to the memory of the blessed martyrs Michał Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzalkowski, two Friars Minor Conventual who were killed in Peru in 1991.

 

In a reflection titled, Popular Marian Devotion, Father Martin explained to us how from the beginning of the church until today, Mary has had a very important role among the people of God. Whether through prayer, or in songs or structures dedicated to her, the figure of the Mother of God, our mother, has always been present in our lives. With this reflection Father Martin helped us to enter into the atmosphere of the Sanctuary of our Lady of Licheń.

 

In the evening, we arrived at the seminary of Łódź. There student friars from two provinces, Warsaw and Danzig, live and study together. They welcomed us with great joy and much fraternal affection. Friars from the nearby friary explained the church building’s history and then we passed a pleasant evening of fraternity together.

 

The next day we departed for the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa. We arrived in the midst of a rainstorm. Upon entering the sanctuary we had the opportunity to concelebrate the solemn first communion mass, surrounded by numerous pilgrims and many children who were receiving the body of Jesus for the first time. After the mass each of us stopped to pray before the miraculous image of our Lady, to offer her our supplications.

 

Afterwards, at the convent of the Little Sisters of Jesus, Friar Iosif Robu offered a meditation about Maximilian Kolbe and Missions. For Saint Maximilian, love must stand as life-giving spring at the root of every mission. For the Saint, every mission has its starting point in the hearts of each of us.

 

Filled with hope from the awareness that the Mother of God is always near to us, in our joys and our difficulties, we left this holy place and set out for Krakow. Here we soon discovered the city’s beautiful churches, including the Arch-cathedral of Saint Stanislaw and Saint Wenceslaus where John Paul II celebrated his first mass, on Wawel Hill next to the royal castle. Near to Krakow we also visited the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy and with it the tomb of Saint Faustina Kowalska.

 

Friar Anton Bulai also shared a reflection on Divine Mercy, highlighting Jesus’ desire, shared with Saint Faustina in a vision: “the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy, and I demand the worship of My mercy through the solemn celebration of the Feast and through the veneration of the image which is painted.”

 

Upon leaving this sanctuary we headed towards the salt mine of Wieliczka. Here we took a guided tour of this, one of the oldest salt mines in the world. In the afternoon we arrived in Wadowice, birthplace of Pope John Paul II (Wojtyła), and visited the new museum in the former Pope’s family home. In the evening we arrived at our order’s Friary in Harmeze. Here, after praying vespers, Father Iosif Petrila shared a meditation on the life and teaching of Saint John Paul II.

 

The morning of May 27 we arrived at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, a Nazi concentration camp that had produced horror and death. Here, an Italian-speaking guide awaited us. Seeing the traces of this horror and hearing the explanation of the guide, we were left speechless. We also visited the place where Saint Maximilian offered his life in exchange for the life of another man, the father of a family, and ended up dying a horrible death, starved by the SS. In the cell where he died as well as outside the cell we spent several moments in prayer. This part of our spiritual pilgrimage took us to the way of the cross of Jesus, taking into our hearts the suffering of the world.

 

Returning to Harmeze, in the morning we celebrated the mass of the Solemnity of the Ascension and then departed for Niepokalanów. During a stop at Częstochowa, Friar Mihăiță Herciu shared a meditation on the Immaculate Conception of Mary, explaining how Saint Maximilian offers Mary as an example for all Christians. The Immaculate shows us that we are full of the gift of the grace of God and it prepares us to be saints. We are called to a great responsibility, following her example, in order to fulfill our journey of sanctification.

 

In the evening we arrived at the Niepokalanów friary, founded by Saint Maximilian Kolbe. Here we visited the city of the Immaculate, seeing the great works that the saint accomplished.

 

On the final day Friar Piotr Szczepanski, Provincial Vicar of the Friars Minor Conventual in Warsaw, talked to us about the life of Saint Maximilian, highlighting the different aspects of the saint’s life, from his mission in Japan until his death in Auschwitz.

fr. Mihăiță Herciu

Pellegrinaggio In Polonia

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