May 19, 2022 Last Updated 8:52 PM, Apr 1, 2019

CYPRUS: ST BARNABAS AND PAUL ISLAND

Published in 2021
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With great joy we share the testimony of our sister, Provincial Superior Sister Antonia Piripitsi, in the meeting of Pope Francis with priests and religious, in the Maronite Cathedral "Our Lady of Grace" in Nicosia on 02/12/2021, during his pastoral visit to Cyprus.

Holy Father,

We warmly welcome you to this island of Saints Barnabas and Paul, and many other saints who have contributed to the evangelization of the people of Cyprus.

This evangelization was also been carried out through many religious men and women who preceded us and gave priority to the education of poor children. This mission continues to this day in Catholic schools, which are an effective means of bearing witness to God’s love and inculcating human, Christian and religious values.

Your Holiness, the Catholic schools of the island currently in existing and in full activity are only three: The Terra Santa College in Nicosia (founded in 1646) belonging to the Franciscan Friars Minor, the Santa Maria School in Limassol, which in 2023 will celebrate its centenary, belonging to the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and the elementary school of San Marone in Anthoupoli, frequented mainly by Maronite pupils. Both the Holy Land College and the Santa Maria School are open to boys and girls of all ethnicities, mentalities, cultures and religions. A truly ecumenical meeting place, without any discrimination, where bridges are built, where students learn to respect each other in its diversity, to love, to help each other, to dialogue, to collaborate together to build a better future, a future where everyone can live as brothers and sisters, without distinction of race, culture, religion or language.

In the recent past there were still three other schools, which unfortunately we were forced to abandon after the invasion of Turkish forces in 1974; some of our older sisters tell with regret how they had to flee without delay, to save their own skin. They thought they’d only have to stay one night and come back the next day, but that night’s been 47 years.

The year 1974 marked a dramatic page in the centuries-old peaceful coexistence of the Christian Greek Cypriot and Muslim Turkish Cypriot population. The division of Cyprus has radically changed not only the political and social order of the island, but also our mission in the occupied area in the north. Despite various difficulties and dangers, the sisters, assisted by Maronite priests, have never ceased to be present, poor among poor people, to support them spiritually and morally, and ensure that the bells of some churches continue to ring.

Our sisters originally from Kormakiti, Asomatos, Ayia Marina and Karpasha are advancing over the years, while it is noted that Catholic families are missing because, after the division of the island, they are scattered everywhere; moreover, As in many European countries, in Cyprus too, the demographic crisis and the secularization of daily life make our young people scarcely available to the life of service in the Church. It is an important challenge, which we face with prayer and witness, so that all the beauty of following may appear through us.

Your Holiness, our province of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart has begun the preparatory itinerary of our 150-year jubilee of presence in the Middle East that we will celebrate next year 2022. The theme we will address will be: "Enriched by the experiences of the past we live the present with confidence and courageously face the challenges of the future", is our Jubilee program of 150 years of presence and mission in the Middle East. We promise to live this time of grace as a space of renewal that we expect from God, the giver of every good, of every vocation and every fidelity.

During the Year of Saint Joseph which draws to a close, we wish to renew our personal and community enthusiasm at the service of the Gospel. And in his Holy Father presence, we entrust all our pastoral and educational activities to Saint Joseph and to Mary Most Holy. Thank you for being here among us!


 

Last modified on Monday, 20 December 2021 10:12
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