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KORAZYM – As part of his visit to the Holy Land to commemorate the 800 years of Franciscan presence in the Holy Land, Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation of the Oriental Churches, visited  on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Galilee, hobnobbing with the seminarians and the formators, giving a speech off the cuff in which he remembered, in the liturgical feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, the happy occurrence of the hundredth anniversary of the Congregation led by him and also the tenth anniversary of the seminary.

Accompanied by the Archbishop Mgr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the new patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Fr. Hanna Kildani, the card. Leonardo Sandri, Prefect for the Congregation of the Oriental Churches, today made his first official visit to the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Galilee, along with the two ministry officers, Fr. Mario Oscar Marzo and Fr. Flavio Pace, and with Msgr. Marco Formica, appointee of affairs for the Apostolic Delegation. Having arrived late in the afternoon, the Cardinal with his entourage was welcomed at the Domus Galilaeae by the Director, Fr. Rino Rossi, who guided him in a brief tour through the house environments, presenting its artistic peculiarities, architectural and figurative alike.

At the end, led by Fr.Francesco Voltaggio, rector of the  Redemptoris Mater seminary of Galilee, the Cardinal was welcomed in the premises of the seminary, where, after a greeting to the seminarians he retired in prayer in the Sanctuary for the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, placed at the center of the Seminary. After a few moments of prayer, Card. Sandri met the seminarians and formators of the Redemptoris Mater, also with a representation of some priests, formed in this seminary, among which were some pastors and parochial vicars of the Latin Patriarchate. After a brief presentation and a word of welcoming by Msgr. Pizzaballa, the Prefect reminded, in a brotherly off the cuff speech, the specificity of the Redemptoris Mater seminaries, in which “the candidates for priesthood find in the participation to the Neocatechumenal Way a specific, basic element of the formation itinerary and at the same time are prepared to the genuine Presbyterian choice of service to the entire People of God” (Statute of the Neocatechumenal Way, art. 18, § 3).

The Cardinal Sandri then wanted to emphasize that “our Congregation, which also has jurisdiction over the Latin Church in the Holy Land, holds very dear the encouraging and promoting the formation of seminarians and we say it a little everywhere to all our brothers of the Oriental Churches. Such formation, in the specific context of the Church in the Middle East, aims to form priests to the pastoral action in a land of persecution and martyrdom, in which, the prelate continued. You should maintain the spiritual care to know that although we are all called to martyrdom in the generic sense of the testimony of life, you will be asked perhaps something more in this field.”

Precisely in view of this ecclesial and social context of human and spiritual need Card. Sandri asked especially to the priests of the Neocatechumenal Way a special closeness to the Oriental Churches, in the field of formation for the priesthood and the spiritual action. This since, as he explained, “you cannot have a charism of your own that is not also a charism that is lived in the Church, that is, with the Pope and the bishops. But indeed it is this charism, which is a recalling to your testimony understood as belonging to the Church. You are in fact members of the Church, children of the Church, guided by the shepherds, the bishops, while carrying in yourselves a special charism, that of the Neocatechumenal Way, which is a richness for the Church, the same way as the popes and bishops in many countries of the world have appreciated.” The prelate then addressed to the seminary a special thought of congratulations in occasion of the occurrence of the tenth anniversary of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Galilee, which this year happens to coincide with the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches of the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

At the end of his speech, Card. Sandri then reported the joyous welcoming made to him by the seminarians with the joy of the people for the gift of the Word of God in the time of Ezra the priest. The Word of God, pointed out the cardinal, is placed in the Sanctuary of the Word, where the seminarians meditate in the lectio divina, before the Sacrament of the Eucharist. In that union between the Word and Sacraments, said the prelate, “Are the foundations, the basis of the whole Christian life, which is meeting Christ. This is the surest way to be not only priests, but to be good Christians and to find the keystone of life, its deeper meaning, which is the presence of God in his word, that which here was made flesh and which we then can live and receive in the consecrated bread and in the wine transformed into his blood.”

Finally, His Eminence addressed the seminarians with the hope of being able to always live, “the joy of having discovered the Word of God and have the grace to live it in your sacramental life, especially in the Eucharist and thus be a treasure for the whole Church in the Holy Land and for the universal one.”

Father Paolo Alfieri

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