From Pisa to Bethlehem: Br. Matteo Brena, Commissioner of the Holy Land of Tuscany, chose to go among the poor for his ordination to the diaconate. The diaconate ordination mass took place on January 3 at the headquarters of the Antonian Society of Bethlehem, the location of the [senior citizens center] . “I chose this place because it helped me in discerning my call to the diaconate and in understanding the importance of serving the very poor,” said Br. Matthew. “And the elderly from Bethlehem are perhaps the poorest of the poor here.” The celebration, which was presided over by the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, was held in a festive atmosphere. “Yes, I do,” replied the Commissioner of Tuscany to the questions for the solemn vows.
In his homily, Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa recalled: “Your service will be full to the extent that you will know to recognize that everything comes from above and is the work of the Spirit, not your work. It is a service that you carry out on behalf of the Church, which transcends you, your perspectives, your ideas, your thoughts, your plans.” As Commissioner of the Holy Land, other commitments also await the monk. “You will be the announcer of Jesus' incarnation,” said Pizzaballa. “[the same] Jesus, whom you meet in places, but also in people, in communities, in people's faces.”
After the ceremony concluded, the Guardian of the brotherhood of Pisa, Br. Simone, representing the provincial father who could not be present, said he wanted to express his joy and gratitude: “We thank Matthew, because he has brought us all here.”
Br. Matthew's bond to the Holy Land began in October 2014. “I had just been appointed Commissioner and I came here to figure out what I should do. The Custos told me to go to Bethlehem and then we started to collaborate, which has continued over time. We believe that the elderly are the roots and the memory of a people.” This is why the Commissariat of Tuscany initiated the “Roots of Bethlehem” fundraising project so as to try to involve as many people as possible. Among them also a famous Italian singer, Giovanni Caccamo, who donated the proceeds of two of his concerts to the project. Following his visit to the Bethlehem senior citizens center, he also wrote the song “We are not alone,” the title of his latest album. “It shows that the mystery of Bethlehem of fragility and love is a message that reaches everyone,” said Br. Matthew.
As Commissioner of the Holy Land, the work is to be carried out daily: “One of our greatest works is to raise awareness and love for the Holy Land, and for the places and people, the living stones. We do this through awareness days; we organize pilgrimages for youth and adults.” Today in the world, there are a total of 84 Commissariats are spread all over 44 countries. They collect offerings and donations, and they spread love for the Jesus' land. The Tuscan Commissariat of the Holy Land, for example, financially supports the Bethlehem senior citizens center.
“I am very pleased to share this important milestone with the people for whom we work,” - said Br. Matteo after his diaconate ordination mass. “For me it is a sign of closeness to the Christians of the Holy Land.”
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