HOLY LAND – On Sunday August 18, in the library of the Patriarchal Seminary of Beit Jala, a preparatory meeting was held for the extraordinary missionary month scheduled for October 2019. The meeting, directed by Fr. Abdo Abdo, OCD, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of The Holy Land, with Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo present, involved several representatives of pastoral organizations of the Jerusalem-Bethlehem area.
“Dear brothers and sisters, for the month of October 2019 I have asked that the whole Church revive her missionary awareness and commitment as we commemorate the centenary of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud of Pope Benedict XV (November 30, 1919). Its farsighted and prophetic vision of the apostolate has made me realize once again the importance of renewing the Church’s missionary commitment and giving fresh evangelical impulse to her work of preaching and bringing to the world the salvation of Jesus Christ, who died and rose again.”
With these words the letter opens, by which the Holy Father Francis wished to announce an extraordinary month aimed at rediscovering the missionary sense of baptized persons’ faith adherence to Jesus Christ. A faith that we have freely received as a gift in Baptism and that we are equally freely called to share with the rest of the world. We are all called to offer, to communicate, to announce this gift of divine life, according to the spirit of the Gospel. In this sense, each of us is on a mission, or better, each baptized person is a mission: each has the task of living his/her faith in Christ in the dimension and in the perspective of proclaiming the Word of God.
This invitation of the Pope addressed to the baptized naturally also includes the Church in the Holy Land which is preparing itself in the best possible way in view of October, designated by Francis as an “extraordinary missionary month.” And it is in this framework that the Beit Jala meeting of Sunday August 18 is a part and with it several others are planned throughout the Holy Land in the coming weeks, during which time the event will be organized at the local level.
The direction of this “construction process” is entrusted to the parish priest of the Church of St. Joseph of Haifa, Fr. Abdo Abdo, who, as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of the Holy Land, is coordinating the preparatory work for the missionary month of October, presiding over meetings where proposals are made, and operational plans are compared and studied.
Several members of pastoral and parish associations in the area attended the meeting, especially Beit Jala and Bethlehem, and members of missionary congregations. Four Comboni Sisters participated by distributing material and illustrative sheets, confirming their close collaboration with Fr. Abdo in the preparation for this missionary month. Also present was Fr. Bashar Fawadleh, in charge of the “youth of the homeland of Jesus,” who will have a very important role in this month.
After a general presentation on the initiative of Pope Francis, the meeting’s participants were divided into thematic groups: children, young people and families. Clear and practical ideas were born on how to live this event, ideas that, once coordinated, will be given to the pastors of the diocese and to the ACOHL so that they can possibly compose a letter to be distributed to all the parishes, religious communities, schools and associations, with pastoral indications on what can actually be done during the month of October. It has been noted that in this month, the celebrations of Mission Sunday and the Solemnity of Mary, Queen of Palestine (October 20 and 27) coincide. It was therefore proposed to combine the two occasions, developing the feast of Mary, Queen of Palestine (Deir Rafat) into a great missionary event. The whole day would thus be dedicated to the mission, with activities aimed at young people, adults, schools, families and parishes so that all may be involved in this beautiful idea of the revival of missionary zeal.
Filippo De Grazia