DOMUS GALILAEAE - On June 2, 2021, at the Domus Galilaeae international center on the Mount of Beatitudes, Fr. Hanna Kildani, the Patriarchal Vicar in Nazareth, presided over the institution of two new lectors, four new acolytes and a newly admitted candidate to the orders.

“These ministries that you are being conferred with today, are steps you are taking that will stay with you forever. You are not alone in this itinerary of formation; in this marvelous adventure, like the two disciples of Emmaus, Christ is there walking beside you, He is your true companion, your true friend in this call you received like the disciples on this lake of Galilee.” It is with these words of encouragement that Fr. Kildani addressed the six young men, who were instituted ministers of the word and altar on their way to the priesthood and invested to the soutane. In a lively ambiance of collective joy, the Domus Galilaeae opened its doors to receiving numerous guests who came to show their support to these young men as they took these important steps in their formation to the priesthood. The guests that participated in the liturgy included priests that serve the Latin Patriarchate in the Holy Land, numerous brothers and sisters of the Neocatechumenal communities from the Greek-catholic parishes throughout the Galilee where these young men assist and grow in their itinerary of faith formation that compliments their priestly formation, as well as the formators, professors, families in mission, and seminarians that live in the seminary and in the Domus.

“First off, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the parents, relatives and families of these young men, who raised them with love, and passed the Christian faith over to them, presenting them to the Mother Church of the Jerusalem”, were the opening words of Fr. Kildani’s homily, as he greeted the families of these seminarians that followed the entire celebration through the internet. In fact, their relatives were unable to assist the celebration in person due to the active restrictions and complications still in place for traveling to the Holy Land, as the lasting consequences of the Covid pandemic are still felt throughout the world.  

The celebration took off with a cordial greeting from Fr. Francesco Voltaggio, the seminary’s rector, as he welcomed the presiding Vicar, thanking him for his willingness to visit the seminary on the occasion of these important rites, as well as a warm welcome to brothers and sisters present from the different Neocatechumenal communities.

The young men who are newly instituted lectors include Giacomo Dainotti, 31 years old from Italy, and Paolo Felicetti who is also 31 years old and from Italy. While the new acolytes are Mauricio Alberto de la Cruz Natera, 33 years old from Colombia, Samuel Costanzo, 28 years old from Italy, Igino Sistilli 28 years old from Italy, and Rubén Cabrera Rosique 25 years old from Spain. The seminarian who has been admitted to the orders and invested to the soutane is Daniel Pérez Meroño, 29 years old from Spain.

With a solemn procession, the Vicar, priests and candidates all made their way into the auditorium and took their places to begin the Eucharistic celebration. The readings of the day carefully reflected the mission and spirit of the ministries that were to be conferred to these young men. Commenting on the first reading taken from the Book of Deuteronomy (Deut 6, 3-9), Fr. Kildani gave the candidates a relevant cultural note that reminds us all of how listening authentically to the word of God gives way to obedience: “There’s a proverbial saying we use in Arabic that is usually intended of some children that are very obedient. When we see such a child, we tend to say that he or she listens to his parents; what we mean is that the child obeys his parents closely. So much more then, is the obedience that we show God when we listen attentively to his voice through the liturgy and act upon it.”

Fr. Kildani, pointing to the priests concelebrating with him, explained to these young men that “we here in front of this altar, took these same steps that you are now taking, yet they did not leave us, nor did we leave them behind. Upon taking them, they stayed with us and form an integral part of our priestly consecration and our mission today in the Church. In the same way, these ministries are steps that will accompany you throughout your priesthood, to help you fulfill your mission in the world.”

Regarding the second reading (Acts 2, 42-47) the Vicar noted that the unity of spirit and the communion of goods were essential to the mission of the apostles: “Their fervent contact with the teaching of Christ and their communion in the breaking of the bread gave them such unity and peace of heart. Therefore, if you wish to serve the people of God as lectors, your task at hand is to read and contemplate the Sacred Scriptures. As for you that answer the call to nourish the people of God with Christ, the Bread of life, you first need to serve at the altar, having nourished yourself with the body of Christ, to give it to those who earnestly need it.”

Concluding these words of exhortation, Fr. Kildani proceeded to highlight how the Gospel (Mk 12, 18-27) gives an authentic invitation to those that decide to take up the path of consecration to the service of the Lord. To the point, he underlined that “the gospel teaches us that our consecration, our celibacy is a sign that renders the kingdom of God present to this generation” so that a life at the service to the Lord may help us shine by virtue of his grace “to be like the Angels of heaven” in such a way, “all of our actions are permeated with His presence, so that when you are happy, you can be happy like angels, and when you joke, you can joke in an angelic fashion and even when you are angry or annoyed in your community life-all things that happen often-you may nevertheless do so in an angelic way. In a word, you may act with the presence of God inside of you at the service of the people where God wills to send you.”

After the homily, the celebration proceeded with the blessing prayer through which Daniel Pérez Meroño, in his new black attire and clergyman, was formally accepted to be formed to the priesthood. The new lectors were then entrusted with the scriptures, whom the rites of the celebration exhorted to “contemplate, keep and proclaim the holy scriptures to the people of God, announcing his gospel throughout the world.” As for the acolytes, the rites called upon them to be “faithful and earnest servants to the eucharist banquet at altar of the Lord, that came not to be served but to serve.”

After the eucharistic prayer, consecration and distribution of Holy Communion to all those present, the Vicar gave one last remark to those present, noting how dear the lake of Galilee and the Mount of Beatitudes should be to all of us, as it makes present “that first call to leave our nets and follow Christ totally.” The celebration then gave way to a banquet of delicious Arab cuisine dishes of all types, generously prepared by the brothers and sisters of the Neocatechumenal communities. The banquet was accompanied and ended in a climate of joyous folkloric songs performed by the seminarians and the guests alike.