HOLY LAND- Attached is the letter of the AOCTS, Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, for all the Consecrated in the Holy Land on the occasion of the 2015 year of the Consecrated Life as dedicated by Pope Francis.
Dear Monks and Nuns,
Dear Members of Apostolic Institutes,
His Holiness Pope Francis wants to dedicate the year 2015, 29th November 2014 – 2nd February 2016, to the Consecrated Life in all its forms, contemplative, apostolic and missionary.
1 –Thank you. We, the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, would like to publicly express our thanks and appreciation…
- For the prayers of the 274 Contemplatives from 27 different houses, who pray incessantly for the sanctification of the Church and the spiritual needs of our priests, parishes and faithful.
- For the enthusiasm, apostolic, educational, and charitable, that you, the 1594 consecrated persons, express in the building up of our churches and the formation of the faithful.
- For your fidelity to the Church in the Holy Land, the fruit of the love you have for it. This ever faithful love, sustained by the presence of the Holy Spirit, leads you ever forward seeking new insertions so that the joy within you is shared with all your brothers and sisters.
Yes, since the very beginnings of Christianity, “our dioceses in the Holy Land are known for the abundant presence of religious congregations, both male and female. Several have been present for centuries…others have come…in request of the Bishops…”(Diocesan Synod of the Catholic Churches, General Pastoral Plan, page 76)
Thank you for your prayers! Thank you for your service! Thank you for your sense of belonging!
2 – Objectives. The Year of the Consecrated Life will begin on 30th November 2014. This date is not chosen by chance but rather it is a grace to say that the different liturgical calendars that we use in our Churches, introduce us to the heart of the three objectives proposed by Pope Francis. The Holy Father asks…
- Remember with gratitude the recent past. Four Sundays before Christmas, the Maronite and Syro-Catholic churches celebrate a Sunday of the joy and thankfulness that Mary sang when she visited her cousin, Elizabeth. ‘My soul glorifies the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour’. (Luke.1, 46.49)
- Embrace the future with hope. On the 30th November, the first Sunday of Advent, the Latin Church invites you to be confidently ever on the alert as you spread the love of God thus building together with Him a new world: Announce to all the people : Here is your God; he comes to save us! On that day a great light will be seen. (Antiphons of First Vespers).
- Live the present with passion in the wake of your Founders and Foundresses, so as to awaken the world. The 30thNovember, the Byzantine Melkite Church will be celebrating the Sunday of the commandment to love and fraternity. ‘I give you a new commandment: love one another; as I have loved you, love one another.(John 13, 34). May the witness of your true love and your sincere fraternity open the doors of your heart and of your house, to reach out to your ailing or deceived brother.
We would like to remind you that the Consecrated Life, the life of each one of you, is at the heart of the Church in the Holy Land as a decisive element of its mission, since she understands the intimate nature of the Christian vocation (cf VC.3): to respond to God’s call with joy.
3 – Being Consecrated. The year of Consecrated Life is a fitting occasion to return to the General Pastoral Plan, the fruit of the diocesan Synod of the Catholic Churches, approved by the assembly of Catholic Ordinaries and published during the 2000 Jubilee .Many of you worked on this document, ‘The place of Religious in the pastoral life in our dioceses’.
We are asking you once again to take up this document and give it an attentive reading. Be led by the Spirit who will help you recall the fundamental aspects of your presence in the heart of our dioceses and groups:
- strengthen your consecration,
- let your whole life be a witness,
- let your life be a sign of your total consecration to God.
Together you form a great wealth and you possess huge possibilities of witnessing to and serving both the Church and Society. To carry out this role of serving witnesses, you should know that you are the Church before being an Institute, that you form one body, one faith and together share the same responsibilities.
A diocesan Synod for the Consecrated, men and women, could without doubt, offer an occasion to review the motivations which brought your Institute to the Holy Land, to question the current value of your presence here so as to draw up together attractive missionary insertions. Our diocesan Churches have no need of closed and empty convents; the need is rather for alive and active communities.
4 –Action Plan. We, the Catholic Ordinaries, during our plenary meeting of 16th-17th September 2014, listened with interest to the wealth of ideas that the Union of Religious Superiors of the Holy land (USRTS) and the Committee of Religious (CRTS) proposed for the year dedicated to the Consecrated Life. Whilst encouraging all personal, community or inter-congregational initiatives, we have decided and encourage and recommend the following….
29th-30thNovember 2014 –Opening of the Year of the Consecrated Life.
The USRTS and the CRT will organise an official common celebration in Nazareth, Bethlehem, Amman and Cyprus.
2nd February 2015 – An inter-ritual Eucharistic Celebration:
- in Jerusalem : Co-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarch
- in Amman : Greek Melkite Catholic Cathedral
-in Nazareth : The Salesians’ Basilica of the Boy Jesus
- in Nicosia : The Maronite Cathedral
25th March 2015 –Solemnity of the Annunciation
Celebration of religious profession anniversaries and a consecration to Mary:
- in Nazareth (Basilica of the Annunciation),
- in Amman (Church of the Annunciation at Jabal-Lweibdeh)
- in Larnaca (Church of Our Lady of Graces)
7th-10th April 2015 –Permanent Formation courses for all Consecrated persons, organised by the ‘Studium Biblicum Franciscanum’.
21st-23rd April 2015 (Jerusalem-Nazareth) – Corso di aggiornamento for Consecrated men and women, presided by Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo, Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of consecrated life and Societies for apostolic life.
21st November 2015 – Day of Contemplative Life - Community celebration for all Contemplatives.
2nd February 2016 – Closing of the Year of Consecrated Life
The USRTS and the CRTS will organise a Symposium on the Consecrated life in the Holy Land.
We encourage all the religious in the Holy Land to participate in the Initiatives of the Universal Church:
- 22nd-24thJanuary 2015 in Rome, an ecumenical Congress with the Consecrated of other Churches.
- 8th-11thApril 2015in Rome, a Congress for Formators on the Spirituality of Communion.
- 28th January – 1st February 2016 in Rome, a Theological Symposium based on the Consecrated Life.
We would hope that all the Religious will be available for the initiatives of the local Church, such as:
- Being available to animate spiritual parish Retreats in collaboration with the Parish Priests.
- Indicating consecrated persons capable of talking to Seminarians about the Consecrated Life.
- Collaborating with the Diocesan Team to animate days of Vocation Promotion and visits in schools.
- Organising days for Youth where they can remember the Religious they have known, to give their witness and to sing their praises.
- End each Sunday Mass with a prayer for Vocations to the Consecrated Life, composed by the USRTS and the CRTS.
- At the end of the final Prayer at Vespers, recite a prayer for all the consecrated and for the young people we are involved with.
- Each Community to choose a day of the week for an hour of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament following a distributed schema. It would be good if this schema be also distributed in the parishes and to groups who meet for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, on the First Fridays, for example.
- Every consecrated person, every religious community, every institute should profit from all these occasions to work towards a culture of communion.
We must help one another in view of the future of the Holy Land, a future with hope, charity and grace. Together we must prepare a humane and spiritual future for this land. Together, we bear this responsibility for the future generations here. (General Pastoral Plan– page 81).
We have proposed amounts to a lot but without a doubt, your creative spirit will find other initiatives as to how to live out this year dedicated to the Consecrated Life in community, in the heart of your institute, in communion with the local and universal Church. We would be happy to hear of the initiatives you discover during the course of the year – for example, formation sessions or joyful recreational times spent together. Your sharing will be a spiritual and fraternal up lift for us priests and for all the faithful. We encourage you to open a window into existing Catholic sites which will provide information for all those who visit.
We, your Ordinaries, wish that this time be a year of grace for you and for the Church of the Holy Land. May our blessing be the gauge of our thanks and esteem for who you are in the dioceses and sub-dioceses.
May the Blessed Mary of Jesus crucified o.c.d., Marie Alphonsine Ghattas s.r.j, and the Servant of God Simaan Srouji s.d.b., intercede pour each one of you.
Jerusalem, le 1stNovember 2014
Feast of all Saints
+ Fouad TWAL - President
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
+ Georges BACAOUNI
Greek Catholic Melkite Arch. de Akka
+ Moussa El-HAGE
Maronite Archbishop of Haifa & TS
Maronite Exarch of Jerusalem & Jordan
President Committee for Consecrated Life
+ Michel SABBAH
Latin Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem
+ Yaser Al-AYYASH
Greek Melkite Cath.Archbishop in Amman
+ Joseph SOUEIF
Maronite Archbishop in Cyprus
+ Boutros MOUALLEM
Greek Melkite Cath. Archbishop Emeritus
+ Elias CHACOUR
Greek Melkite Cath. Archbishop Emeritus
+ Jean B. SLEIMAN
Admin. Apost ‘sede plena’ Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishopric in Amman
+ Joseph Jules ZEREY
Greek Melkite Cath. Patr. Vicar Jerusalem
+ Gregoire Pierre MELKI
Syro Catholic Exarch of Jérusalem
+ Maroun LAHHAM
Latin Patriarchal Vicar / Jordan
+ Giacinto-Boulos MARCUZZO
Latin Patriarchal Vicar / Israël
+ William SHOMALI
Latin Patriarchal Vicar / Jerusalem &Palestine
+ Kamal-Hanna BATHISH
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus
+ Selim SAYEGH
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus
Mgr. Georges DANKAYÉ
Admin. Armenian Catholic Exarchate
P. Pierbattista PIZZABALLA, O.F.M.,
Custos of the Holy Land
P. David NEUHAUS, S.J.
Patriarchal Vicar of St James Vicariate
P.Jerzey KRAJ, O.F.M.
Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Cyprus
P. Pietro FELET, scj