BEIT JALA – The Argentine congregation of the “Verbo Encarnado” celebrated a Mass in thanksgiving for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the arrival of its first missionary in the Holy Land. It was celebrated in the Church of the Annunciation of Beit Jala on Sunday afternoon.
The Incarnate Word Congregation represents a very young missionary reality compared to other orders present in the Holy Land. It was founded in Argentina in 1984 on the intuition of Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela. It has a men’s branch and a women’s branch and, despite the young age of the congregation, currently boasts its presence in all continents.
The presence in the Holy Land dates back to August 25, 1993, when the first of the missionaries of the congregation, Father Marcelo Gallardo, arrived first in the “land of Jesus”, received by the then Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah. Since then, other missionaries arrived, many of whom are still present here in the Middle East.
The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Gustavo Nieto IVE (Instituto del Verbo Encarnado) in the presence of His Beatitude, Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah, and H.E. Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem and Palestine, and in the presence of a large number of faithful, who came to Beit Jala to celebrate this important event for the whole local community. Naturally, the Sisters of the women’s branch of the order were not lacking in the event; among them there was the presence of the nuns who in Bethlehem manage the “Hogar Nino Dios,” accompanied in church by their beautiful children for whom they care, who were splendidly dressed for the big occasion.
The homily was the occasion to reflect on these first twenty-five years in the Holy Land, retracing all the fruits gathered during this time, starting from the belief that “the first and indisputable fruit is being in the Holy Land.” Among the numerous apostolic fruits produced by the grace of God, Fr. Nieto mentioned the native vocations, the geographical expansion of the Institute in the region, the commendable help to Christians in the Middle East where the Congregation of the Incarnate Word represents only a very small minority, the diversity and multiplicity of works that the Institute was able to face in the Holy Land, such as the Hogar, centers for orphans or abandoned children, often suffering from serious disability, whom the religious and religious of the congregation take care.
The homily focused fundamentally on two points, coinciding with the two great fruits: faith in the Incarnation of the Word and love for the Cross. Regarding the first of the two, Fr. Nieto intended to reflect on the eloquent way where being in the Holy Land speaks to him of the faith of the missionaries in the Incarnation of the Word. This is the mystery that represents the milestone on which the dynamism of the mission “ad gentes” rests, which also necessarily implies firm belief in Divine Providence.
The second point is represented by the love for the Cross that has nestled in the souls of the missionaries of the Institute during the twenty-five year presence and “which has allowed us to grow and reap the fruits blessed by Providence.” A great love, therefore, that is built on affection for the weak and their sufferings: “love that is not born from the Cross of Christ,” he added, “is weak.”
There was no lack of emotional thanks, including one to the Virgin Mary who in Bethlehem gave to men “the sublime consolation of contemplating the Face of God” and that in Jerusalem “gave us the supreme testimony of His complete fidelity.”
Mass was followed by a festive dinner on the premises of the seminary, attended by a devout community of faithful, visibly happy to take part in the joy of the missionaries who animated the evening.
The following morning, the same Fr. Gustavo Nievo and the General Secretary of the Institute, Fr. Gonzalo Ruiz Freites, visited the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, where they were warmly received by Bishop Marcuzzo and Bishop Emeritus Kamal Bathish.
On this occasion, the two missionaries were able to talk about the presence of the Institute in the Holy Land, started twenty-five years ago in Beit Jala, and today are distributed in Palestine and Israel, in Anjara in Jordan, in Paphos in Cyprus, in Sepphoris, Galilee (where there are two monks of the contemplative branch) and, also in the Holy Family Church in Gaza, where the congregation has three sisters and two fathers.
After the celebration, the two missionaries left for Rome to take part in the Mass of the Congregation of the Incarnate Word at St. Peter’s in the Vatican, which took place on October 9.
Filippo De Grazia