After his visit to the Province of St. Joseph, Spouse of the B.V.M. in Romania, the Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI, arrived in the Land of the Cedars on Saturday, July 31, 2021. His stay lasted until August 6.
He spent his first two days at the Friary of St. Anthony of Padua in Sin-El-Fil (Beirut) where he learned more about the history and development of the Provincial Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land in this country. He leafed through chronicles containing photos and stories of the friars and important events in the history of the friary. He read about the first two missionaries who arrived in 1966, and others who arrived up to the present day. He read about various crises, showing the importance of the Conventual Franciscan presence in rebuilding peace in the country after many years of strife. Indeed, even today, Lebanon is beset with much political, economic and social turbulence, posing a challenge to our charism.
On the afternoon of August 1, Friar Carlos visited some significant places in the center of Beirut, including the port, which was completely destroyed by the explosion of August 4, 2020. Next, he concelebrated Mass on the vigil of the feast of St. Mary of the Angels with our confrere, Bishop César ESSAYAN. The Mass took place at the Church of St. Anthony in Sin-El-Fil.
After Mass, Friar Carlos blessed and inaugurated the friary’s “social kitchen.” He encouraged the friars to further their growth in the theological virtues so that they might get through crises together as brothers.
On the morning of August 2, Friar Carlos met with the Most Reverend Joseph SPITERI, Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon. He then visited the Maronite Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa and moved on to Charfet, where, in 1966, our friars founded the first Conventual Franciscan mission in the Land of the Cedars. There, Friar Carlos met with His Beatitude, Youssef (Joseph) III YOUNAN, Syro-Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Lebanon. In the late afternoon, Friar Carlos again met with Bishop ESSAYAN in Jeita and they both went to Zahlè to celebrate the solemn Mass of the Queen of Angels at our Friary of St. Francis of Assisi.
On August 3, Friar Carlos went the city of Baalbek to visit its ancient Roman ruins, and later, the Shiite Shrine of Sayyida Khawla (daughter of Imam Hussein and great granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad) and the beautiful mosque next door. Friar Carlos next visited the Monastery of the Prophet Elisha, the first religious structure in the Holy Valley, composed of a set of caves and shelters used to escape persecution.
On Wednesday morning, August 4, Friar Carlos visited a retirement home in Beirut to meet with our “patriarch,” Friar Massimiliano CHILIN (98). It was very touching to see the Minister General kneeling before Friar Massimiliano, offering an image of profound Franciscan fraternity.
In the afternoon, Friar Carlos met with the Poor Clares at their Monastery of Our Lady of Unity in Yarze. After some brief dialogue to get to know one another, Friar Carlos blessed the sisters and wished them joy in their lives committed to promoting dialogue and acceptance.
On August 5, Friar Carlos undertook a long journey to a friary in Tyre belonging to the OFM Custody of the Holy Land. After a fraternal lunch, the Guardian, Friar Tony CHOUCRY, OFM, gave him a tour of the city.
On August 6, the Minister General concluded his visit to Lebanon with assurances that he would soon return.
Friar Nicolas ABOU ANNY