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GALILEE – On October 26, 2017, at the Domus Galilaeae’s Church of the Twelve Disciples in Korazym, the conferment of the ministry of acolyte to Sliman Hifawi and Javier Martínez Alcalá and that of lector to Mateo Alvarez Serna took place. Presiding over the Eucharistic Celebration was Fr. Hanna Kildani, the new Patriarchal Vicar in Israel at his first conferment of ministries.

For the first time as Patriarchal Vicar, Fr. Hanna Kildani conferred the ministry of the lector and acolyte to three seminarians from the Redemptoris Mater of Galilee, all of whom will be incardinated in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem: Sliman a native of Jaffa and Javier a Spaniard were instituted acolytes, while Mateo originally from Colombia, received the ministry of the lector. The three seminarians received a warm welcoming from the communities to which they belong to, as well as from formators, brothers and sisters in mission.

Before the celebration began, the Rector of the Seminary Fr. Francesco Giosuè Voltaggio, offered a congratulatory note to those present, for Fr. Hanna as he takes charge of his new role in the Patriarchate, assuring him support and proximity in prayer. Subsequently, he moved on to refer to the fruits of the Neocatechumenal Way, highlighting in a particular way the faithfulness of many families to the encyclical Humanae vitae, as well as to both the rich number of children that the Lord has given these families and the resulting vocations that arise from them.

The Patriarchal Vicar expressed his joy in presiding over this liturgy, as he underlined the importance of the Way in the Catholic Church. He then thanked the Rector, the families and the rest of the formators, In his homily to the Gospel of the day (Lk 12,49-53), the Vicar remarked upon the lengthy road that each Christian is called to fulfill in order to reach the end of his path that is paradise. Particularly by updating to the present celebration the words of the prophet Jeremiah  that say “From the womb, I have chosen you” he indicated to the three seminarians the call they all received in baptism, as well as the grace of growing up in a Christian family and of having formators. “Without listening to the Word and frequency to the Eucharist–affirmed Fr. Hanna–it’s impossible to take up any path: only Jesus Christ can show us the way we are to take, while showing us the end-goal and giving us the necessary strength to reach it”

The Vicar also highlighted that the willingness of the seminarians and of each Christian isn’t just in theory. Rather, it needs to be put to the test like in the parable of the rich young man who despite his knowledge and practice of the ten commandments, when in front of the obstacle that Jesus himself places in the face of choosing an authentic adhesion to the call, that of selling one’s goods, leaving affections behind and following him, puts up resistance and refuses to adhere to the invite. Jesus in fact wanted to clarify to the young man and to all of us, that the willingness to follow God in everything and in every occasion has to be total. “So then, also these three seminarians–continued Fr. Hanna–have been asked to love and adhere to the Lord in a complete way: they have been faithful with the help of grace, and being  hand in hand with the lord. They are not heroes just as Peter and all the other apostles were not: instead, they are weak and it is Jesus Christ who renders them strong. In this way, the words of St. Paul are fulfilled: “I wish to do Good but it is the Evil that I do”, to which Jesus responds with “My Grace suffices you”. He is the strong One, the Holy and Good One. That is why it is possible for these brothers to be lectors and acolytes.”

In the end, the Vicar reminded us of Cardinal Sandri, prefect of the congregation for the Oriental Churches, who visited the seminary on October the 18th 2017. His visit to the seminary was made on the 100-year anniversary of the congregation presently under his guidance. The Cardinal, Fr. Hanna reminded us, spoke about testifying and martyrdom, of a zeal that is to be fulfilled there where the Lord calls us to go. “Jesus Christ’s incarnation has a history and a geography–the vicar affirmed–a time and place to be fulfilled, and so it is for each of us. Today the lord is calling you to be in the near east, and tomorrow who knows, but nonetheless he calls you to give an answer! Jesus as servant loved and redeemed his people; a mission to which we are all called to also as servants. Today this is made present in a particular way for these three young men in the Church of Jerusalem. Jesus has answered: “Here I am” just as the Virgin Mary did: “Here I am, the hand-maid of the Lord.” This with the help of the Lord is also our answer.”

To the Vicar’s question, as seen in the rite, the three seminarians answered with a resolute “Here I am”, as they continue on their path to the priesthood. The celebration was then followed by a lively  and festive setting that saw the participation of those present and concluded with  a candid agape prepared by the brothers and sisters present.

Augusta Fiore

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