AUSTRALIA – From July 24-August 12, 2017, Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar again to Jerusalem and Palestine, has made a working visit to the Australia Lieutenancies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. Bishop Marcuzzo went there as a representative of the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and officially delegated by H.E. Card. Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order. He shares his experiences.
Bishop Marcuzzo, what was the purpose of the working visit and how did it fare?
A crowded program was prepared by the lieutenants, with Dr. François Kunc, a Judge of the Supreme Court in Sydney, providing overall coordination. The program included a retreat – a full weekend from Friday afternoon to Sunday noon – for representatives of Australia and Southeast Asia lieutenancies, more specifically the Taiwan, the Philippines and Malaysia lieutenancies. Then a series of two-day visits to each lieutenant or major cities followed: Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth. The schedule for each two-day visit was very concentrated with no wasted time: evening Vigil, investiture ceremony, promotions rites, solemn Mass and a period of good fellowship. Not to mention the journeys from one city to the other with up to five hours of flying. The lieutenants managed the organization throughout and took care of me with attention and solicitude in all the activities.
They also prepared extra-institutional activities: a visit to and presentations at two seminaries in Brisbane and Melbourne, an interreligious meeting with Muslims and Jews in Melbourne, ecumenical meetings in Sydney and Adelaide, meetings with groups of various nationalities as former Italian and Lebanese immigrants in Adelaide, meetings with new immigrants, Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Hobart as well as radio or television interviews everywhere. I also enjoyed moments of relaxation and culture, thanks to the lieutenants, the bishops and priests with whom I was staying. Thus, I was able to visit the Brisbane Koala Sanctuary, the Sydney Opera House, the Art Gallery of Adelaide and – surprise! – the distinctive churches of the famous architect Augustus Pugin (who designed the interior the Palace of Westminster) on the island of Tasmania.
What was your main message to these lieutenancies on the retreat and in your various meetings?
During the spiritual retreat and other activities, I presented thirty-seven talks on the spirituality of the Order and the Holy Land. The first subject, of course, revolved around the Holy Sepulcher, that is to say the Resurrection of Christ as the light that completely changes life and gives a special color to every detail of our lives. The spirituality of the Order also includes the role of the cross in our life, in the general sense, but also specifically the cross of Jerusalem, that is to say the cross of universal redemption, reparation and the atonement for others, of pilgrimage, of service and solidarity.
About the Holy Land, I am mostly inspired by chapters 8 and 9 of St Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapters that shed light on the how, the motivation and the why of solidarity with the Holy Land. In addressing this issue, we cannot but speak about the general situation in the Holy Land, the specific needs of the local Church and the Latin Patriarchate, its current general projects or those planned for the future. Inevitably, part of every conversation, was the invitation to many to come to the Holy Land, and not be afraid.
During the retreat, I had the pleasant surprise of finding Costandi Bastoli, whom I had known in the ‘60s, he was then secretary of the Christian Youth (YCS and YCW) in Jerusalem, when I was a deacon assistant to the Youth chaplain, Father Michel Sabbah, later the Patriarch. Costandi left for Australia in 1969 with his parents and his entire large family. There, he became the first Lieutenant of the Sydney Lieutenancy and is presently very active in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement.
What is your assessment of this trip to meet with the Knights and Dames of Australia and Southeast Asia?
My overall impression of the situation of the Order in Australia is absolutely very positive and encouraging. The lieutenants, supported by their bishops, as priors, are very careful to keep a high witness of Christian life. All Knights and Ladies work diligently to help the Holy Land through the coordination of the Grand Magisterium. My only wish is that some lieutenancies make an extra effort to stimulate a youthful vigor and so ensure the next generation for the future. Moreover, in Hobart and Darwin, two new sections of the Order were created, which precisely gives a promising sign for the future.
I left all the Knights and Dames of the Order, a small sign of recognition and of ecclesial communion, images of our Saints Mariam Baouardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, an image and prayer of Our Lady Queen of Palestine, patron of the Order, and some Nazareth flower bookmarks. On a proposal from Archbishop Pizzaballa, I also delivered to each lieutenant a small mosaic of the dove of peace with the LPJ logo, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which we interpret as pleasure Love, Peace and Justice. It is an informal mosaic of sufficient craftsmanship, but pleasant, the work of Iraqi refugee families in Jordan as part of the program “Living mosaics” coordinated by Father Imad Twal.
Meanwhile, the combined lieutenancies gave me a beautiful icon of “Our Lady of the Southern Cross”, patroness of Australia, with the recommendation of exhibiting it in the LPJ Co-Cathedral, so that Australian pilgrims seeing it, may venerate it and feel more attached to the Holy Land. Australia’s lieutenancies are five with two new sections. The number of Knights and Dames number almost 550. During this visit, fifteen new Knights and Dames were invested, many were promoted to a higher grade and three bishops were appointed Priors. The visit also created a great ecclesial communion among the lieutenancies of Southeast Asia, and the members felt more encouraged in their Christian witness and in their love for the Holy Land.
It seems to me that this visit of work and prayer, information and fellowship, around the Holy Sepulcher and the Holy Land, in my humble opinion, was constructive. With a little follow-up and persevering work, with the grace of God and the collaboration of all the Knights and Dames of the OESSH, this time of planting seeds will certainly bear good fruit.
+ Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo
Photos de F.K et A.D.