JERUSALEM – On Sunday, June 11, 2017, eighteen seminarians, Salesians and Missionaries of Africa, were ordained deacons by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. A highlight for these religious men from all over the world and for the Church of Jerusalem.
Burundi, Malawi, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Zambia, Slovakia, Italy, Ethiopia: it was indeed from all nations that they were there to say yes to the service of the Church, to the service of their brothers. The eighteen seminarians – fourteen Salesians of Don Bosco and four Missionaries of Africa – rose to respond to the Lord’s call at the diaconal ordination Mass celebrated on Sunday, June 11, in the Church of Gethsemane, Church of all Nations.
In recent years the seminarians of the Missionaries of Africa, sent to Jerusalem for their formation, have joined their Salesian confreres in the classroom at the International Seminary of Ratisbonne, an English speaking section of the Faculty of Theology of the Salesian Pontifical University of Rome, to do their theological studies, a central part of the formation of priests.
Since 2010, they also share the liturgical celebration of diaconal ordination prior to their final year of formation, a time when the Church of Jerusalem shares with dioceses of the world the joy of gift and service.
The Gospel of the washing of feet in John 13 (1-15) was chosen for the occasion and it was from this text that Archbishop Pizzaballa addressed the eighteen ordinands and the large assembly of faithful, religious and lay. The Apostolic Administrator, repeating the phrase that had been chosen on the invitation to the celebration: “He loved them to the end,” recalled how Christ had stripped himself, “laid down his garment” to show his love. An invitation to become aware of this ‘mad’ love of God for mankind, but also to imitate this total gift where there is nothing to lose but, on the contrary, everything to gain.
In one year, if all is well, the eighteen new deacons will receive the sacrament of priestly ordination in their home community and respective dioceses, responding to this invitation reinforced in their faith by their formation and by this time of grace spent in Holy Land.