Sunday, April 14, 2024, was a day of great significance for the faithful in the Karşıyaka District of Izmir, Turkey. It was the day that the Conventual Franciscans returned to the local Parish of St. Helena. This event was celebrated with solemnity and joy and symbolized a new chapter in the history of this church and its community.

The high point of the day was when Friar Adrian BACIU took canonical possession of the parish, having been authorized to do so by the Most Reverend Martin KMETEC, OFM Conv., Metropolitan Archbishop of Izmir (Smirne), Turkey. This act officially marked the friars’ return as the spiritual leaders of the parish, ending an absence that began in 2011.
The Conventual Franciscans originally began to serve the St. Helena Parish in 1997, but in 2011, they were forced to leave due to circumstances that made it too difficult for their work to continue. Today, however, the General Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land is overjoyed to be able to serve this community again.
The return of the Conventual Franciscans brings with it a renewed hope and a strengthened commitment to serve the local community. The friars will provide essential spiritual support for the faithful, but more than that, their presence will represent a tangible link with the long history of the Church of St. Helena and its mission in the region.
At the end of the Mass, the Provincial Custos, Friar Anton BULAI, offered some words of thanks: “Brothers and sisters, we have returned as the disciples of Emmaus. We have come to tell you about Christ, to tell you of how we knew him. You have heard from the Scriptures that Jesus himself appeared among the disciples and said: ‘Peace be with you!’ We will tell you about Christ and I am sure that Jesus will be with us and will say to you: ‘Peace be with you.’ We love you, that’s why we came back. We came to love you. Now, I would like to humbly add one more thing: that you love our new Pastor, Friar Adrian BACIU, and our Guardian, Friar Iosif ROBU and Friar Moses FIDELIS.”
The faithful in the Karşıyaka District enthusiastically welcome this new chapter and look to the future with confidence and hope. The return of the Conventual Franciscans marks a significant period of renewal and spiritual growth for all those involved, and promises to be a beacon of light and hope in the life of the parish community.

Friar Marian-Emanuel VĂTĂMĂNELU