Parish News

Lent/Easter, 2015.

We were blessed to have Mr. Vesa with us for the Christmas celebrations. He is a very talented organist in the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran church in Finland. He flew from Finland to play at our Christmas Liturgies. We are very grateful to him. The Franciscan theatre was filled every day with voices and laughter of the children of the local schools who produced some very good plays and sketches.
January 18th is the feast of the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan archbishop Kirilos. There is always a great reception at his home at which we are always made to feel very welcome. It also enables us to meet and greet the priests from the rest of the island.
Air conditioners have been installed in the Church and parish hall in Kos, thanks to the generosity of the Knights of Malta. We have given each family in the parish a book on the Holy Rosary, beautifully written in Greek from the island of Syros. It is greatly appreciated. We have begun the blessing of houses and fields belonging to the parishioners in both Rhodes and Kos. These encounters with the people in their own homes are of great pastoral importance and significance.
In February our bishops gathered in Rhodes for the Ad Limina visit. They informed the Holy Father of the worsening economic crisis we are living here. 26.1 % of the population, which is 1in 4, are unemployed; sadly of these statistics it is 50% of the youth that are without work. We enjoyed an El Shaddai festival. This is a Filipino charismatic prayer group movement. Several of their leaders are now coming to Rhodes from Athens to instruct our own Filipino community in the scriptures and catechism of the Catholic church. It is bearing much fruit and the community is being spiritually refreshed and renewed. We hope to introduce the movement to Kos.
Archbishop Foscolos came to say goodbye to us in February after 41 years of pastoral service. Then followed the first official visit of our new archbishop Sebastianos Roussolatos. Other than his pastoral visitation we were received by the Prefect of the Dodecanese, the Mayor of Rhodes and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop. They were warm and friendly meetings and we felt a sincere welcome and positive interest in our new archbishop. The press and mass media were present and everything was reported on the local TV and newspaper. On Sunday after the Pontifical Mass at St. Francis’ Church, which is also the archbishop’s Cathedral, (he being the Apostolic Administrator of Rhodes), the parishioners had prepared a large cake, decorated with his name. He blessed and cut the cake which was distributed to all present. The African community had prepared a joyful song to welcome him. It was a very pleasant and uplifting beginning to his time with us and an expression of our joy in welcoming him as our shepherd.
The annual novena to St. Polycarp was sung before his statue. I am presuming the statue came to the Church in Rhodes when the people fled during the sacking of Smyrna during the 1922. This year we are making the Way of the Cross twice a week. Friday in the Holy Cross chapel and Saturday at Sancta Maria. We are offering the second set of Stations for the friars and people in Syria. Having the Stations twice a week also enables more members of the parish to attend one or the other. Father Darek Wisniewski ofm Conv.visited us from Turkey. He is the first conventual friar we have received here. He is a renowned theologian, but very simple and humble.
Brother Miguel Eduardo Masseo Gutiérrez Jiménez ofm continues to study Modern Greek in Athens. He spent the Christmas period in Cyprus. He said that he had enjoyed his stay immensely and that he greatly appreciated the fraternal support of Father George Kray ofm and the other friars. Father George is known for his hospitality and generosity. We are glad that he had such a fruitful visit.
In March the school children from all over the island have begun their visits to our churches. These visits began over the last five or six years as our relationship with our Orthodox Brethren have become ever more cordial. It gives the school children opportunity to see a Catholic Church and learn from us the many things we hold in common. Needless to say the Municipality choir held an excellent children’s concert at St. Francis’ church which was a great success and yet another expression of the close bonds we have with our Orthodox brothers and sisters.
The parishioners and others continue to bring dry food to the various liturgies that enables us to feed the ever increasing demand of the poor at the monastery door of Sancta Maria. So year again all in all we have received many blessings and thank God for His bountiful goodness towards us.
With every good wish for a blessed Easter,

Easter 2015