Parish News

Advent/Christmas, 2012.

This spring I had the great joy in returning to Jerusalem. I must say the fraternal welcome and hospitality was as warm as ever. It was a delight to see the many wonderful changes that had taken place in our monasteries. I was at the Holy Sepulchre for the Lenten liturgies, they were prayerful and moving. Sadly in March, Avery Holingworth our much loved organist returned to the House of the Father. I had given her extreme unction and the Viaticum a few hours prior to her death and then peacefully a few hours later the Lord called her to eternal rest. We miss her so much. In the last eight years, the Church was her life. We were all devoted to her. May she rest in peace. We will remember her with warmth and love.
In April we were proud to receive Cardinal George Pel of Australia on the island of Kos with 50 Catholic teachers. I think I am right in saying he is the first Cardinal to ever visit Kos. In May the Armenian Catholic Bishop for Greece, Iraq and Georgia visited us in Rhodes. It is interesting that up until the Second World War there was quite a large Armenian community in Rhodes and yet now there are almost none left at all. In May we also saw five of our children making their promises as Legionaries of Mary. My yearly medical visit to Naples is always appreciated. Dr. Policarpo and family take very good care of me. It was good to see the LaSalliana members in Assisi. Massimo Andreuzzi has been elected President. Of course Ricardo Collaro still remains president emeritus and at a young 90 years old has written a book on the genealogy of his family.
Kos has been pastorally served throughout the summer months by some very distinguished priest. Father Adam Kondys who has been studying for his Masters degree in Jerusalem. Father Alessandro Caspoli ofm, a former secretary to the Minister General, Father Thomas a Canon Law student, and in August the Minister Provincial Gabriele Treveli spent a week there. We had a splendid Music festival at St. Francis' Church, such a great effort made by all concerned to produce organ and song. The organ and trombone were superb. Music unites all without distinction. It was a delight to have been invited to visit the US Eisenhower when she docked in Rhodes for a few days. The ship is absolutely enormous. A few weeks later an equally pleasant visit when the US Cole docked in our harbour. These two ships came in a spirit of friendship to Greece in this time of great need.
It was marvellous to have Father Piotrek Blajer ofm who is now a doctor of the Church on his annual visit to Rhodes. He accomplishes so much work whilst he is with us. We are very fond of him. Father Jozef ofm and Father Arnold ofm joined us in July. Father Paweł and I were able to make a short visit to Jerusalem. It was bliss. Father Paweł commented after visit that the hospitality of the friars in the Holy Land is exceptional.
In August Monica and two friends who are art work restorers from Italy came of the month and continued to restore our oil paintings and art work. Monica is without doubt one of the best house guests you could ever wish for! We were pleased to receive the Polish Ambassadors of Kuwait and Jordan for a short visit. On the feast of the Queenship of Mary I accompanied our beloved Archbishop to Kos on a short pastoral visit. He was pleased with the renovations that had taken place and the dedicated service of the many volunteers who help in the parish. We are singularly grateful to Mrs. Sharon Lloyd-Memis who acts as the voluntary assistant administrator on Kos. She takes care of all the day to day administrative aspects of the parish and apartment. We had two visiting priests from Palermo; one is a professor of theology in the seminary in Palermo. They have promised to give pastoral service Kos next year. I was invited to visit the Greek Orthodox Orphanage in Rhodes. It was the former Catholic Girls' School. It is now run by Orthodox nuns, helped by Father Timothy a very pleasant young priest and many other volunteers including our beloved Mary Papandreou. The free Greek, English and Italian lessons began again at St. Francis' Monastery in September and are much appreciated. We thank Miss Sandie Allen and Mr. Filippo Italia for their generosity.
Our Canonical Visit took place in September. Fr. Renato Baretta ofm came with Brother Giuseppe Maria Modesti ofm, his secretary. Father Renato visited all the churches and buildings and met with the people of the Parish. They loved him! We loved him! He was supportive, helpful in his advice and counsel, fraternal and pastoral. We all felt greatly uplifted, it gave us a great boost and renewed our enthusiasm. The Speaker of the Canadian Parliament, Noel Kinsella came with his wife Anne and two senators. They spent a few hours at Sancta Maria and then came to Mass at St. Francis's Church the following day. They were lovely people and came in a spirit of friendship and concern for Greece. It was much appreciated by the Greek people. Francesco and Fenny Tatada visited us. Francesco was a Filipino Senator for many years and is now councillor to the president of the Philippines, they are a charming couple.
We began the Year of Faith with the "Quarantore", forty hours of uninterrupted Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The parishioners organised that each hour would have someone in prayer day and night. It was a great success and we prayed for Greece and for our futures here, especially the young people. A new set of iron gates were made to mark this year of faith, they were inscribed with the scripture "Lord increase our faith 2012" in Latin and Greek. Every member of the parish has been given a copy of the bible and the Catechism and there is much enthusiasm about relearning who we are as Catholics and what our church teaches.
Around 120 Austrian Knights of Malta arrived with 50 handicapped to spend a week in Rhodes. They celebrated Mass at Sancta Maria. On the feast of all Saints they had a picnic in the monastery garden. It was enjoyed by all. The "Maltesers" as they are known, men and women were seen all round Rhodes town in their uniforms with the sick and handicapped. It made a great impression on the Greek people and was another step on the road to cementing our positive ecumenical spirit enjoyed in these islands. Sister Sangwina from the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow joined us for two weeks to help with the Knights of Malta pilgrimage. She is a great favourite with the parishioners. Her quiet gentle manner is much appreciated. The Knights of Malta were received by the Greek Orthodox Archbishop. He is a fluent German speaker and was able to communicate directly with them. Their visit took place during the time of the Synod of Bishops in Rome. Rhodes was again mentioned as being an example of the good relationships that can exist between the two sister Churches. We are committed to that path of true Christian Unity. To this end, it was with much pride that we were able to see and hear our musical director and organist, Mr. Christos Paraskevopoulos play byzantine music at the organ festival in Jerusalem. We are very proud of him and very thankful for all he does to help us in Rhodes. Indeed, it is through the many volunteers that we are so lucky to have in Rhodes and volunteers who come to Rhodes from near and far, that the parishes are able to make such progress and have still maintain the charitable outreach to those in need, the numbers are growing as the crisis deepens. Long may such generosity continue! We hope our efforts and prayers will be pleasing to God the Father as we await the coming of the Christ Child this Christmas.
Fr. Luke ofm & Fr. Paweł ofm