Parish News

Lent/Easter, 2013.

The Christmas celebrations were very enjoyable despite the rather bleak financial situation in Greece, we seem to be following the adage, "less is better" and we make do with what we have. Several of the local schools asked to use the Franciscan theatre this year and it was a huge success. We are always so pleased when the theatre is full of children, it brings it to life. The local community are very grateful that we offer this facility that brings everyone together. Our annual service of Carols and Benediction was splendid. Mr. Christos the organist played the organ and Mr. Janni the trombone. It really was super. Father Paweł spent the Christmas period on Kos. The children's nativity play was well performed and enjoyable. Here in Greece the situation remains austere to say the least. We now have two property taxes. One of these taxes has to be paid through the electricity bill. As you can imagine, the bills have almost tripled and there are many families who have no electricity and use candles, oil lamps and cook on an open fire outside. Who would imagine this in Europe? We have enormous bills now both through the electricity and the lump sum we pay each year. The Catholic Church has no exemption as our sister Church the Orthodox has. Last year we paid over 95.000 Euros. Our properties are so large and they now tax us on building and land that is not used. Several of the tenants have not paid their rents for over a year. Thank God the lawyer is good but of course we have to pay him too and the court proceedings are so lengthy. Sadly the poor feel the situation the most. So many without work and so many without State help, as many benefits have been cut. The Vice prime minister of Canada, Mr. Noel Kinsella, sent us a letter of thanks following his visit. He said his time with us in Rhodes had enabled him to have a good insight and to have further fruitful meetings in the rest of Greece. We were equally grateful for the letter from H.E. Matthew Festing, the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta. They do such good work for the poor and we are happy to assist them in any way we can, they may return to us in 2014. However, we keep optimistic and do what we can. The people give generously each week. Dry food that we are able to make into packages to feed the many who come to the monastery door. However, the food we gather does not match the demand and for months now we have to buy cheap food and toiletries from our budget. We began the house blessings after Christmas and this has brought much fruit. We are hoping to create a Polish Association. The Albanian and Spanish speaking Assoc. are doing very well and they even have their own classroom in the international school now. It was a delight to send the translated work on the text written by Fr Romualdo Fernández Ferriera ofm on Father Pasquale Castellano on the early (IV c.) Church is Syria. Miss Sandie is quite exhausted! We hold an extra Holy Hour on Sunday morning since Christmas to pray for the Chapter and above all for Syria. I am in correspondence with Fr Romualdo Fernández Ferriera ofm so am able to keep the people updated. We even have refugees from Syria now. How they arrive in Rhodes, God only knows. It must be a very perilous journey. The Choir has grown and their four part harmony is laudable and beautifies the liturgy. The parish theatre and hall are in full use. It is usually the schools who use the theatre and it is a joy to see the children enjoy themselves and for them to have this positive contact with the Catholic Church. We have two Easter celebrations here, one in Kos the same time as the rest of the world and one here in Rhodes at the same time as the Orthodox world. Of course there is a five week difference this year which causes much confusion for the poor tourist in Rhodes. The parish on Kos is growing and they too have been marvellous in their service to the poor. We use our St. Anthony's parish hall in Kos as a centre each Thursday for the food and clothes that are collected and distributed; Miss Kerry has been absolutely marvellous in her efforts. Miss Sharon the Caritas representative in Kos is able to help her as much as she can. This year we helped with the presents for the children at Christmas and we will do the same at Easter. Over 240 families received much needed help. The volunteers organised by Ettore and the Pro Terra Sancta have promised to come to Kos this May to help renovate the church and create a worship space outside the Church, if the discretorium gives permission. Thank God we have so many tourists at Mass during the summer months; there is no longer room in the Church! We are grateful for the many young student priests who come in the summer months from Rome to help us in Kos. They are all extremely intelligent and give and receive good pastoral grounding. Ah so much to thank God for in His Divine Providence when I come to think of it all. From the beginning of the Year of the Faith we have been exploring the sacraments each week and this has been very beneficial. Father Angelo Ison ofm has sent me many Catechisms in Tagalog for the Filipinos which will be much appreciated. Of course we worked for many years together in the secretariat and I am very fond of him and very grateful to him. The Filipino's will have their annual Miss Valentine pageant in our parish theatre this Sunday which is always good fun. The Filipino Ambassador has sent a letter of appreciation of the work being done by the Catholic Church caring and helping the Filipino community. The parish pastoral council continue to be a constant source of help and support. We have digitalised the remainder of the chronicles from the archives and I will take to Jerusalem on my next visit. I too have had to think and pray about the articles that I have written in the local press. There is a journalist from one or other of the newspapers everyday asking for an interview. Of course the abdication of the Pope and the election of the new Pope Francis continues to generate much interest. It is wise always to be simple and as truthful as is necessary and to concentrate on the positive aspects of both Popes over the last few weeks. Our faithful Mary Papandreou is a constant help in these matters being truthful and precise always. Of course we are delighted by the fact the Ecumenical Patriarch is going to the Pope's Coronation. After 1000 years! God be praised! So to conclude, we have been given four white doves and a dove cote to house them in. Surely a sign of peace for the people of Greece!
Happy Easter to one and all!
Fr. Luke ofm & Fr. Paweł ofm