Letter of Fr. Jerzy Kraj
Dear priests, consecrated people and all our beloved faithful of Cyprus.
One of the challenges which Pope Francis poses to priests, religious and indeed to all of us is to go to the “peripheries”! Pope Francis himself continues to go to the peripheries, and we have the duty to follow his call. While many big countries in Europe are waiting for a visit from him, he is coming to Cyprus, which is on the periphery of Europe.
As you know, with great joy but also trepidation, we welcomed the news of the visit of Pope Francis to Cyprus from 2nd to 4th December. The main event of the visit of the Holy Father is the solemn Mass which will be celebrated on the morning of Friday, 3rd December at 10:00 am.
For this Holy Mass the GSP stadium in Nicosia, a large and comfortable space, was chosen because it is a sign of a big welcome to all and everyone who wish to pray with Pope Francis.
Usually, you go to the stadium to watch a football match or listen to a concert. This time will be different. We are transforming a stadium into a Cathedral, open to all. All of us, Catholics and Christians of Cyprus, are having the largest stadium on the island for a true cathedral under the open sky, where, together with Pope Francis, we want to glorify, thank and implore God for the peace and joy of the Gospel.
This big stadium is a possibility for us to bring everyone, so that each place is filled. As in the parable in the Gospel (Mathew 22,9) “So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” Here our mission to the peripheries begins. There are a lot of people around us in our community who are not active. This is the time to invite them! Make them part of the great Catholic and Christian family.
Time is short and “the workers are few”. He asks you to go and be missionaries in the suburbs. Please inform and invite the greatest number of people to Mass with the Pope through all possible channels (social media, calls, personal meetings).
There are seats for everyone, so even the elderly can be accommodated. For people with disabilities there are also places prepared with all the facilities.
To prepare this big Eucharistic Event, a celebration of the love of God, we need your active cooperation as a choir member and especially your help as a volunteer. Also we are counting on your joyful and generous contribution in any way you can.
Here are some practical indications for those who want to participate in the Holy Mass with the Pope at the GSP stadium in Nicosia.
Everyone must register their name (with telephone number) in one of our parishes (Latin or Maronite). We do not have the possibility to do it by phone, but someone can do the collection of names among friends and acquaintances (for example through ‘WhatsApp groups’) and bring this list to the parish to be added to the list of participants. Everyone will be given a participation ticket with the sector assigned in the stands. Remember to bring with you the Covid “Safe Pass” if you are already vaccinated or if not you will have to present a negative rapid test.
For all who come we are preparing a small bag containing the booklet for the celebration, a cap, scarf, distinctive sign, keyring, and flags (Cypriot and Vatican) which will be distributed together with the ticket (a contribution will be asked to cover the expenses).
You can get to the stadium with your own cars, but we recommend that you choose the buses that will be made available to you (for a small contribution) from all the cities on the island.
In December the weather can be cloudy, so we recommend that you bring a raincoat and umbrella.
To be updated with news about the distribution of tickets, bus transportation and other important issues please follow the website of Pope Francis’ visit to Cyprus:
and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/papalvisittocyprus.
Our website is offering some material as well for our spiritual journey (Letter of the Latin Patriarch, HB Pierbattista Pizzaballa, homilies of HE Salim Sfeir, Maronite archbishop, nice videos, ecc.)
Let me conclude with some words from our prayer to Saint Barnabas composed for this occasion and which I strongly recommended that you add to your daily prayers.
May the visit of Pope Francis strengthen us to joyfully go forth to love and serve the Lord and to proclaim Christ’s name to all those we encounter, “comforting each other in faith”.
Fr. Jerzy Kraj OFM
Patriarchal vicar for Cyprus
Nicosia, 13th November 2021