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JERUSALEM – On November 15, 2017, the Episcopal Committee for Consecrated Life in the Holy Land invited all members of men’s congregations and religious institutes, to share a time of reflection and friendship around the theme: “The place of religious men and women in the pastoral plan of the Catholic diocese”.

The afternoon training and reflection, organized in St. Peter in Gallicantu, saw the participation of nine congregations – about thirty present in the Holy Land – which responded to the bishops’ religious Committee invitation. Archbishop Jules-Joseph, Patriarchal Vicar of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church and the new Chairman of the Committee, had been invited to the meeting but, being absent from Jerusalem on that date, he could not join the religious.

The organizers chose to work on the pastoral plan written after the Synod of the Catholic Churches of the year 2000. For this reason, Father Rafiq Khoury, who was responsible for the Synod and for the implementation of the Pastoral Plan that followed, introduced sections of the Plan related to religious men.

The presentation largely interested the religious present. The exchanges that followed resulted, particularly, in emphasizing the special place of the religious compared with the diocesan priests. While the latter is mainly dedicated to the service of the faithful in their Church, that is to say: Catholic Latin, Melkite, Maronite, Armenian, Syriac and Chaldean; religious, with their educational work, social, charitable, are at the service of Christians of all these rites, and also Muslims and Jews. They live in a natural way, from the base, ecumenism as well as the inter-religious meeting. Another aspect that characterizes the religious is their task of receiving pilgrims and also the Institutes of Biblical studies. Their presence gives the Catholic Church an undeniable visibility.

This afternoon is part of the annual cycle of meetings proposed by the Episcopal Committee for Religious. A meeting will be held in the presence of Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem; another will be held on February 2, 2018, together with the religious, on the occasion of the Day for Consecrated Life; It will follow another during Lent, for a morning of penitential; and finally the year will end with the traditional excursion in common.

These meetings help to strengthen the bonds of fraternity and mutual support. For religious who are in Galilee and who cannot travel from the north to Jerusalem only for a few hours, similar meetings will be organized soon in the vicinity of Nazareth.

Cécile Klos

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