Wednesday, 31 October 2012
DVK Holds an Audience with His Paternity Most Rev. Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM The Custodian of the Holy Land , by Saju Chackalackal
25 September 2012 DVK Holds an Audience with His Paternity Most Rev. Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM The Custodian of the Holy Land Date: Tuesday, 25 September 2012 Time: 2.30 pm – 4.00 pm Venue: JBC Auditorium, DVK Administrative Block Welcome Speech Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, a Pontifical Athenaeum of Philosophy, Theology, Canon Law, and Formative Spirituality and Counselling, is happy to have the presence of His Paternity Most Rev. Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, the Custodian of the Holy Land. I consider that this is a great blessing to have the presence of the Custodian of the Holy Land with us at DVK, as it is the first time in the 670 year old history of the Custody of the Holy Land, the Custodian of the sanctified places of our redemption is visiting the Indian Subcontinent. As some of you might know, the Custos or the Custodian of the Holy Land is the Minister Provincial, or the major superior of the Friars Minor living throughout the Middle East. He has jurisdiction over the territories of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt (in part), Cyprus and Rhodes without counting the numerous houses in various parts of the world (worth mentioning are those in Rome and Washington). The main task of the Custos, in addition to animating the life of the friars, is to coordinate and direct the reception of pilgrims who come to the Holy Land for pilgrimage and to pray at the shrines of our Redemption. This task was bestowed upon this office of the Custos by the Holy See over 600 years ago. Another mission that the Custos assumes is to coordinate information about the Holy Land and instil in the Christians of the world the "loving care" for these sites: archaeological excavations at the holy places, publication of ancient pilgrimages, and, above all, the study of the Bible through geography and history of these same sites where the events took place. These activities depend mainly on the Custos who sponsors such initiatives. I am happy to acknowledge the fact that one of our prospective staff members in the Scripture, Rev. Fr. Savio Thekkekara, is studying at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Jerusalem, and his studies are partially supported by the Custos; may I take this opportunity to thank him for the same, and I hope that this visit of His Paternity will enable us to take this relationship to greater heights, especially in the domain of researches in connection with the Bible. Another important task the Custos undertakes is to care for and sustain, in agreement with the local church, the Christian presence in the Holy Land through various initiatives. This includes ministry to schools and parishes. For your information, the Custos is not elected like the other Ministers Provincial of the Order. Rather, he is directly appointed by the Holy See after a consultation with the friars of the Custody and the presentation made by the Order’s governing body. In the Holy Land, the Custos is looked upon as one of the main Christian religious authorities. Together with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and the Armenian Orthodox Patriarch, he is responsible for the status quo, the code that regulates life at the Holy Sepulchre in the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. By right, he forms part of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (i.e., the Bishops of the local Catholic Church). The current Custos is His Paternity Most Rev. Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa; he was appointed Custos of the Holy Land for the first time in May 2004, for a period of six years, and reconfirmed by the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor in May 2010, for another three-year term. Born on 21 April 1965, in Cologno al Serio in the diocese and province of Bergamo, he began formation with the friars of the province of Emilia Romagna, to which he still juridically belongs. He was ordained a priest on 15 September 1990, and entered into effective service of the Custody of the Holy Land in 1999. Upon completion of philosophical and theological studies, he received a bachelor's degree in theology on 19 June 1990, from the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome. He completed his studies of specialization at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem, obtaining his licentiate in biblical theology in 1993, and afterward received his master's degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was professor of Modern Hebrew at the Franciscan Faculty of Biblical and Archeological Sciences in Jerusalem, and has done pastoral work with the Hebrew-speaking faithful for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Thus, in the person of His Paternity Most Rev. Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, we have a person who is well-versed, both from his experience of being in the Holy Land, taking care of the Holy Places for a long time, and from a scientific point of view, having his expertise in the Scripture and in Modern Hebrew. He is in India primarily to meet with the bishops of the CBCI Standing Committee. I am very glad and grateful to Rev. Fr. Jayaseelan, OFM Cap, who is a Friar from the Bangalore Province, for having given me the information about the plan of the Custos to visit Bangalore. In fact, I consider it as a privilege and honour for us, the staff and students of DVK, to host the Custos during his first visit to India here at our Pontifical Athenaeum. Hence, in the name of our beloved Fr. Rector, Rev. Dr. Thomas Aykara CMI, the entire teaching fraternity and students of DVK, and all those who have gathered here in the John Britto Chethimattam (JBC) auditorium, I accord to Your Paternity Most Rev. Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa the most cordial welcome to Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram. His Paternity has agreed to speak to us and enlighten us on the theme “The Holy Land: Christian Concerns in the Middle East.” He will begin with a presentation for about 10 minutes and, then, speak to us for about thirty minutes and, then, will take the questions from the audience. So, I hope that this audience with His Paternity the Custodian of the Holy Land is going to be a rewarding one to all of us. May I take this opportunity to extend a very cordial welcome to Rev. Fr. ....... (provincial of OFM Cap), etc. I am indeed happy to welcome our beloved Fr. Rector, Rev. Dr. Thomas Aykara CMI. It is heartening to have his presence with us, as he empowers all of us and animates the entire Dharmaram Campus with his unique style of leadership and support. Hearty welcome, beloved Fr. Rector! May I also extend a very cordial welcome to Rev. Prof. Dr. Thomas Kollamparampil, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, Rev. Dr. Jose Nandhikkara, the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Rev. Dr. Sebastian Payyappilly, the Director of the Institute of Oriental Canon Law, and Rev. Dr. Joy Philip Kakkanattu, the Director of the Institute of Formative Spirituality and Counselling, and all other Staff members, superiors and rectors of various campus houses, and other invited guests, Rev. Fathers, Sisters, and brothers, and all those who have assembled here for this rare Audience with the Custodian of the Holy Land. Welcoming you all, once again, and wishing you an enlightening engagement with His Paternity Most Rev. Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, may I remain! Thank you!