The new priests (29 June 2024) | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

The new priests (29 June 2024)

GEORGE PAOLO JALLOUF

George, 28 years old, from Aleppo (Syria), grew up in a family which passed on to him faith and  a love of prayer. Despite his fragility, he always found in Jesus the strength to overcome his fears. “Even with the war I tried to go to Mass every day. I was afraid but I would repeat to myself: ‘I am not afraid because You are with me.’” He struggled between his dreams and the call of God. The Franciscan March, when he was 18, was decisive: “I asked the Lord for signs. Why have you chosen me? I felt unworthy.” The encounter with the fragility of a woman who was ill was for him God’s answer, which is revealed in the weak. “I am not called out of merit or because I am worthy, but out of love.” His yes gushed out from here. His path has been lit up by words from the Gospel: “And I consecrate myself for them so that they also may be consecrated in truth” (John 17,19). “I want to be the hands of Jesus, his feet and his heart. The Lord has embraced me with his hands, he has accompanied me with his feet along this path and he has loved me. This is how I want to take Him to others.”

 

JOHNNY JALLOUF

“Give me the captives, the goods you may keep”: this sentence from Genesis (Gen 14,21) has marked the life and vocation of Johnny, together with the hymn to the love of St Therese of the Child Jesus (“in the heart of the Church I will be love”). A Syrian from Aleppo, he was a teenager when the war broke out and when the idea of becoming a priest first came to him. Brought up in faith and in prayer in his family, over the years his wish to become a doctor to  bring relief to bodies turned out to be a suggestion to become a doctor of souls: a Franciscan in the Custody of the Holy Land and a priest. His pastoral experience over the years has brought out even more strongly his desire to “save souls.” “Many people come to confess but I could not.” With the ordination to the priesthood, “I will dedicate all my life to souls to take them to Christ.”

MARK VERTIDO PALAFOX

“My vocational story is marked by waiting.” Mark is 33 years old and comes from the Philippines. Fascinated by St Francis, he had to wait until he moved to Manila, the capital, to get to know the friars. Before entering the Order, he waited for his three younger brothers to finish their studies, while he helped the family with his work. “This was a providential period of time which allowed me to get to know myself better.” He learnt about the Franciscans of the Custody through the website and at the end of 2014 he arrived in the Holy Land. The experience that marked him the most was that of the pastoral work with the migrants: “I wanted to simply become a friar, then seeing their difficulties, their need for pastors, I asked myself whether the Lord was asking me to become a priest.” With his companions, he has chosen the words “I am thirsty” for the memory of the ordination: “It is not only the thirst of the Lord for souls, but also my thirst to be able to serve.”

LORENZO PAGANI

Italian, aged 31, Lorenzo came to the Holy Land following in the steps of St Francis of Assisi. Infected by his love for this land, he chose to become a friar minor in the Custody of the Holy Land. There are two shrines where celebrating the Eucharist will have a particular meaning for him: “Bethlehem, because this is where Jesus was born, as he is reborn in the hands of the priest, and the Calvary, where He gives life: as a priest I am called to give life for the salvation of souls, in union with Christ the high priest who offered himself to his Father for us.” “I am thirsty” are the words shown on the souvenir of the priestly ordination, one of the seven words Jesus said on the cross: “It is the thirst Jesus has to make us happy and the thirst that humanity has for mercy, justice and peace, this peace which is so awaited in this Land, which only Jesus can give.”