JERUSALEM – On February 2, 2020, the day of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, the Union of Religious Superiors of the Holy Land (URSHL) of Jerusalem and Palestine and the Episcopal Committee for Consecrated Life in the Holy Land organized a “Day of Consecrated Life”. The meeting, which was held at the Sanctuary of Gallicantu, aimed to make known to Religious men and women the rich mosaic in which they operate, through the heritage of their contributions and the new forms of consecrated life. Mass was celebrated and presided over by Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and delegate for Jerusalem and Palestine.
The URSHL of Jerusalem and Palestine and the Episcopal Committee for the Consecrated Life of the Holy Land chose the magnificent site of Saint Peter-in-Gallicantu, for this meeting, hosted by the community of Assumptionists, dedicated to consecrated life which was held on Sunday, February 2, the day of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate for Jerusalem and Palestine, was present in the morning.
Bishop Marcuzzo spoke at the introduction of the event. Speaking in French, before briefly translating his words into English and then into Arabic, he praised the work of the religious communities of the Holy Land, stressing the uniqueness of each of them and the “loss” that each departure for abroad is.
Many religious communities, mostly nuns, were present for the occasion, including the Sisters of the Rosary, the Sisters of the Presentation, the Sisters of the Institute of the Incarnate Word or the Oblate Sisters of the Assumption who live in Saint Peter-in-Gallicantu. The Salesian Brothers were also present.
The program was divided into three stages. A conference by Fr. Filippo Morlacchi on “Consecrated Life in the service of the Holy Land”, three interventions on the common theme of new forms of service, then the Eucharistic celebration. During his intervention, Father Filippo Morlacchi drew up a presentation of the different religious families present in the Holy Land, their seniority, their numbers, their fields of intervention and their evolution through contemporary history, this being brought into perspective with the demographic evolution of the populations of Palestine and Israel.
After a short break, representatives of Opus Dei came to present “Saxum”, a multimedia cultural center located a few kilometers west of Jerusalem and intended for pilgrims wishing to know more about the history of the Holy Land. The Domus Galileae, a center for formation, study and spiritual retreat located very close to the summit of the Mount of Beatitudes, was also the subject of a presentation by the members of the Neocatechumenal Way who direct the place. The Focolare Movement closed the panel discussion with the presentation of the ecumenical dialogue center.
The day ended with a Mass. This was preceded by a very beautiful procession that led the faithful to the upper church of Saint Peter where Archbishop Girelli presided over the celebration of the Eucharist. The homily, on the other hand, was delivered by Father Jean-Daniel, superior of the Augustinians of the Assumption, the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio having been decided at the last moment.
Father Jean-Daniel began his homily on the theme of sacrifice which is at the heart of consecrated life. “No consecration without sacrifice” he stressed, recalling that the consecrated are not defined by what they do but by “their exclusive attachment to the person of Christ”. He spoke of Jesus as the first of the consecrated, also evoking the “very unique place” that Mary and Joseph hold, they who put their person and their whole life at the service of Jesus, living for the rest, in poverty and chastity. The superior of the Assumptionists concluded his speech by insisting on the spiritual dimension of religious life which, according to him, should prevail over all the others, recalling that prayer and evangelization are the heart of the mission of most new communities.