Parish News

Advent/Christmas, 2013.

Christmas greetings from Rhodes!
Easter was celebrated with much joy in our parishes in Rhodes and Kos. We have often spoke about and prayed for the people of Syria during Eastertide. It was round about this time we were given four doves, a sign of peace and a constant reminder for us to pray for peace in Syria. The crisis in Greece continues although less seems to mentioned about Greece in the world news, and yet the poor people still suffer. We have installed a chicken run and now have four chickens, a turkey and a duck. They provided fresh eggs for the community and enough over to give to the growing number of people who come to the door seeking food. We had a wonderful pilgrimage to Assisi with the LaSalliana in May. The May procession organised by the Legion of Mary at Sancta Maria was a great success as always; the tourists enjoyed it enormously. The devotion to St. Anthony is still an important ecumenical aspect of every Tuesday and more so on his feast which is so well attended by the many Rhodians who generously bring bread every Tuesday to help us feed the poor.
We had many visiting priests this year, both to Rhodes and Kos. Father Kevin the former provincial in the Irish province who is now novice Master, accompanied by Father Eugene a professor of theology in Ireland. We had several young priests from Poland who were completing their doctorates in Rome. All of them well educated but very pastorally minded.. Father John O'Leary, the secretary of the Archbishop of Westminster spent a few weeks with us. We were pleased to receive Father Gasmend Tinoj ofm again this year, he is the Provincial of Albania, he was accompanied by Father Robert, a professor of Theology at the pontifical seminary in Shkodra. Don Antonio Parisi from The Pontifical university of Palermo and Don Dario spent a month on Kos much to the delight of the people. We received four priests from Naples led by Don Orlando the archdiocesan Chancellor. We were pleased to receive Father Antonio the director of Caritas Greece accompanied by Father Alberto. Brother Miguel Eduardo Masseso Gutiérez Jiménez ofm one of our clerics from Jerusalem spent a month with us learning Greek; by the end of his stay he was able to read at Mass and also the readings at Compline in Greek. He had an able teacher in the person of Father Piotrek Blajer ofm who as always works continuously on all and every project put to him with zeal and generosity. Father Algirdas ofm the commissary of the Custody of the Holy Land from Lithuania joined us for three weeks followed by Father Feras Lutfi.ofm. We were all very touched by Father Feras's visit. He came directly from Syria, having lived in the most awful conditions and yet he radiated true Franciscan joy. We have begun to sing the Da pacem after the Masses now having Syria and her people at the forefront of our minds and very much in our prayers. Brother Petrus Schűller ofm visited us on his way back to Jerusalem and was delighted to find we have a German voluntary secretary and treasurer and an Austrian housekeeper. Of course the most frequent visitor to Rhodes is our own beloved archbishop Nicolas who this year celebrates forty years of dedicated pastoral service as a Bishop, we wish him many more to come. The parishioners and tourists are astounded and delighted at the many priests concelebrating Mass in the churches of Rhodes, for such a small island the summer months enables us to welcome many visiting priest from all over the world, and after all, hospitality is such an important Franciscan charisma.
The Custodial Chapter took place in July in Jerusalem. It was a time of fraternal joy and sharing. The friars were reunited, sometimes after many years of not seeing each other and yet the bonds of brotherhood remain strong. There was much laughter and of course much work. We were honoured and delighted by a visit from the new father General, Michael Perry ofm. Following the Chapter the changes came to pass, Father Paweł Juda ofm was named Guardian and life continues apace as usual.
In August a Mr. Sharon Rosner came from Israel to restore the organs in both churches in readiness for our many concerts during the summer months and the music festival in September. These events are much appreciated by the locals and tourists alike. A group of visitors came from Syros the island of our beloved bishop Papamanolis. There was a Christian Brother De La Salle amongst them at Mass whom we greeted with much joy. The presence of the brothers on Rhodes was of great importance and they are sadly missed as are the many religious congregations of nuns who were on the islands with whom we have regular contact now. Several of their sisters are buried here and we remember them in our weekly requiem Mass in the cemetery chapel of the Holy Cross. It was a great pleasure to see Elisabetta Galeffi this year; a very talented journalist she is too, as well as a competent lawyer. She is always helpful and supportive with her wisdom and understanding..
In October, we commemorated the 103 Italian officers who were executed in Kos during the Second World War. They were all so young. There are no gains in war. The Finish Lutheran pastor, the Rev. Bror, responsible for the Lutherans abroad came to spend time with us followed by Rev. Klaus the Danish pastor. We are happy we have such good relationships with our Lutheran brethren. Our bonds and friendship with the Greek Orthodox Church are brotherly and respectful. We feel very much at home at the many Orthodox Liturgies we attend. The Metropolitan Greek Orthodox Archbishop Kirilos is a support and friend to the Catholic Church and we value his paternal interest in our presence in Rhodes. We visit him on most of the occasions that our own archbishop visits us, in fact around every six weeks and these visits are very beneficial for both our faith communities. The course on Istanbul on Islam and Christianity is marvellous as it is informative. The warm Franciscan hospitality from Father Ruben Tierrablanca González ofm is second to none.
The vice-mayor came to look at the Franciscan theatre It will be much used over the Christmas period. He said he has heard many good things about this theatre (the first ever in Rhodes 70 years ago) and wanted to see for himself. After his visit he has offered to help us install a bathroom/WC in the theatre itself which will indeed be very useful. We are very grateful that our relationship with the civil authorities is harmonious and reciprocal in all that we are able to do to support each other for the benefit of the social community of Rhodes. All our activities are reported and commented on by our beloved Mary Papandreou in the local newspaper "Proodos"
The book "The Churches that were" written by Dr. Lucia Conti Janiki has been a huge success and almost all the 1000 copies have been purchased. It will be printed in English soon. It gives a comprehensive view of all the Catholic Churches of the past. We hope she might write a book in the future on the religious orders and their institutions in Rhodes.
All in all we have much to be grateful for and for our part we thank the members of the parish pastoral council and all who help us maintain this very active living faith community in Rhodes. We wish one and all a very merry Christmas and a happy peace filled New Year.

Fr. Luke ofm & Fr. Paweł ofm