Parish News

Christmas time, 2014.

April saw the blessing of the renovated British Memorial in our Catholic Cemetery. The British Consul of the day was a Mr. George Frederick Wilkinson. He was born in the 1700s. To our great pleasure members and decedents of his family were in attendance for the ceremony as were representatives of the Consul of Great Britain. We have French, Polish, Italian, Spanish and British memorials in the cemetery reflecting the universality of the Catholic Church. We received two Dominican priests Fathers Robert and Alexander from the Angelicum University in Rome. In May we lost our oldest member of the parish in Kos, Kiria Flora as she was known. She came to Kos in 1947 and was the last Catholic to worship in the Catholic Church of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) which is still to be found near the harbour in Kos. She was a great supporter of the Franciscans throughout her life. She will be sadly missed. The annual pilgrimage to Assisi took place to honour Our Lady of Philerimos. Sadly the numbers of the LaSalliana Association are fewer each year. The new worship space created in Kos to accommodate the growing number of tourists is completed. The church, crypt and parish hall have all been renovated thanks to the generosity of our many benefactors.
It was a great blessing to be present at the Papal visit to the Holy Land. We were all touched by the simplicity of the Holy Father when he came to eat with us in our monastery’s refectory. The archbishop presided over the feast and procession of Corpus Christi in June. In July many of the priest and faithful gathered in Syros for the consecration of the new bishop H.E. Petros Stephanou. Throughout the year many conferences are held in Rhodes; from one of the conferences we were honoured with a visit to the church of Mrs. Barbara the Government Minister of the environment of Ghana. Father Andrew Verdote ofm joined us for a few days break from Cyprus. It was with great pleasure that Father Pitorek Blajer ofm came to spend a month with us. He is a professor of theology in the Franciscan Studium Biblicum in Jerusalem. He worked tirelessly as he always does. A symposium took place on the fate of Jewish community of Rhodes at the Aegean University; it was very interesting but also very sad. The son of Dr. Policarpo Saltalamacchia came to visit two of his student friends. They prepared some excellent Italian cuisine. Dr. Policarpo is a very generous benefactor of the friars in Rhodes. Brother Sylvester Michal Polik ofm and Father Lukas O.P and their respective families came to us from Slovakia. We were also delighted to receive Mons. Falcone from the Vatican Secretariat of State, he is always so very good and so supportive. Professor Maria Pia Pettinau with her husband came to spend two weeks in Rhodes. She is an expert in liturgical textiles. She examined and catalogued all our vestments; to our surprise we have some pieces from 1600. Dr. Graziano Pellicciari, renowned Italian engineers gave a week of his time to catalogue and preserve the many historical architectural plans contained in our archive. There is still much to be done but we hope he will return next year.
Archbishop Nicolas Foscolos came for the Feast of the Assumption. We were delighted to receive a second honoured guest during his visit, the recently named archbishop elect, Father Sebastianos Roussolatos from Syros. Archbishop Foscolos stayed for the feast of the Assumption and presided over the procession of Our Lady. Don Antonio from the Pontifical University of Palermo and his friend Don Dario spent a month on Kos. We also received a group of priests and seminarians from Milan for a week.
The new Mayor of Rhodes is Mr. Photis Hatzidiakou; he is a renowned lawyer. He has a very capable and pleasant wife called Agape, she is the public notary for the friars. We wish him well in his new office and will offer whatever support we can. The Finnish Lutheran church held a concert in the theatre with a group of school children from Finland. We are very grateful to the Finnish Lutheran Church; their organist, Mr. Willy, accompanies the Catholic liturgies on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. Father Peter Hurley joined us from Sheffield followed by Br. Ayman Battish ofm and his family. We were delighted that Rossette his mother prepared us some delicious Arabic meals. They are a truly prayerful and generous family.
In October we enjoyed the Music Festival of Rhodes directed by Christos Paraskevopoulos. Brother Riccardo Ceriani ofm joined us from Jerusalem; he is the delegate for the Custody for the Organ festivals. This year we had a trumpeter who was marvellous and indeed for the first time I heard organ and mandolin together who accompanied a local choir, they were truly wonderful. Br. Eduardo Miguel Masseo Gutiérrez Jiménez ofm who is studying Modern Greek in Athens came to Rhodes to renew his temporary vows, it gave great witness to our Franciscan life to all present. The military ship USS Ross came to Rhodes and we had a wonderful evening aboard. The Americans are always so generous and friendly. I was delighted to receive the military coin presented to me by the commander. All our events are reported and published in the Rodiaki newspaper by our beloved Mary Papandreou. On the 25th October our new Archbishop Sebastianos Roussolatos was consecrated in Athens. We wish him well in his new ministry as shepherd of souls. Whilst in Athens I stayed at the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. Mother General was also present. Deacon Dimitris Altouvas met me at the airport. His wife Georgia has restored many statues and various artefacts in Rhodes and her visits. We are very grateful to her. Their son, Father George is a priest in the archdiocese of Athens. The Consecration took place on Saturday. On Sunday morning, Bishop Petros Stefanou of Syros took me to celebrate Mass at the Carmelite Monastery.
The Rev. Klaus of the Danish Lutheran Church came to Rhodes; we are very fond of him and spent a very pleasant evening in his company alongside his Danish flock. The Greek, Italian and English classes have begun again for the winter in the classrooms at St. Francis’ Monastery. They are given free of charge by two generous professional teachers. They are a huge success. The Remembrance Day ceremony for the British War dead took place in the military cemetery; this year those who fell in the Great War were remembered in a special way; they gave their lives for the freedom of others.
It was with great pleasure and joy to all that the Custos and his board of councillors joined us in November for a fraternal visit and also to give them the possibility to come to know the reality of Rhodes. They noted the work that had been accomplished over the last years in spite of the few economical resources available and through a wide participation of lay volunteers. They also considered the consequences of the economical crisis that has brought about the very fragile economy of the Franciscan presence in Rhodes and possible solutions that may be sought. It was marvellous to have a house full of friars and to enjoy such jovial and pleasant times together, despite the workload that needed to be dealt with, the house was filled with the laughter and merriment of the friars.
Father Jesmond Micallef ofm Cap came with Br. Eduardo Miguel Masseo Gutiérrez Jiménez ofm to visit Kos and Rhodes. We are very grateful to the Capuchin friars in Athens who have always offered hospitality to the friars of the Custody whilst they complete their studies in Modern Greek.
All in all it has been an eventful year, filled with the many blessings the Lord chooses to shower upon us and we give thanks to His Most Holy Name.
With every good wish for Advent, Christmas and the New Year