JERUSALEM - On Sunday, June 28, the eve of the Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the Augustinians and Oblates of the Assumption invited, as is tradition, religious communities and a few faithful to come and celebrate the First Vespers at the site of Saint Peter- in-Gallicantu. Presided over by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, the ceremony was the occasion this year to celebrate the sending on a mission of Father Jean-Daniel Gullung, who leaves the Holy Land after having served there for nine years as superior of the community of Assumptionists and rector of the Holy Place.
As every year, the religious and faithful responded to the invitation of the Assumptionist community and the Oblate Sisters of the Assumption to come and celebrate the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Saint Peter-in-Gallicantu. Gathered at the foot of the holy staircase, where the ceremony opened, the guests then climbed the steps, stopping at the first station for a reading of the Gospel on the site of Peter’s denial, before leaving directly to the place of prayer, following in the footsteps of the Augustinians and Oblates of the Assumption, Archbishop Pizzaballa, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Delegate for Jerusalem; Fr. Rafic Nahra, Patriarchal Vicar for Catholics of Hebrew language; Bishop Yaser Al-Ayyash, Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchal Vicar as well as Bishop Jules-Joseph Zerey, Patriarchal Vicar Emeritus Greek Catholic Melkite. The Consul of France also attended the event, accompanied by his advisor for Religious Affairs, Father Luc Pareydt.
In a theological address, Archbishop Pizzaballa started with a comparison between the figures of Barabbas and Jesus, by showing what brought them together, the messianic title they share - The etymological meaning of the cognomen or surname of Barabbas is “father’s son” - despite being opposed motivations and the different choices they made. “Barabbas is the opposite of the idea of messianism that is formed by looking at Christ,” said Archbishop Pizzaballa. Then, he confronted the characters Judas and Peter, evoking the similarity of their journey - the betrayal of which they were guilty and the disappointment they caused - the difference residing in the attitude of Peter before the eyes of Jesus. Peter accepts the gaze of Christ on him, a benevolent gaze that the Lord places on each of us despite our weaknesses and our rejections; he admits his fault and accepts, in all humility, to look at himself in depth and to get up. “Leading a community does not require being perfect, but accepting the look of Jesus on us, our weaknesses,” said the Apostolic Administrator.
After Vespers, Father Jean-Daniel Gullung, superior of the Assumptionist community and rector of Saint Peter-in-Gallicantu, was sent on a mission by Archbishop Pizzaballa. The Apostolic Administrator spoke about Father Jean-Daniel’s nine years of service in the Holy Land, before briefly discussing the new mission that awaits him within the Assumptionist community of Albertville, in Savoie (a department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France), with elderly Priests and Brothers. “Following the elderly priests is a great mission, because we are all preparing for the great departure, and accompanying the elderly brothers reminds me of a condition for all of us who are preparing for this,” said Archbishop Pizzaballa.
At the end of the celebration, the guests were all invited to share a buffet dinner. The opportunity for those who worked with Fr. Jean-Daniel to thank him for all the years of service in the Holy Land.