The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul was commemorated with a special celebration in Tarsus, the city of St. Paul. The mass took place at the place which was built by the Orthodox Arab-Greek Community in 1850 as St. Paul Church and it is used as St. Paul Monument Museum since 2001. The liturgy was led by Mgr Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ankara and Mgr Paolo Bizzeti, the Apostolic Vicar in Anatolia. Other Catholic priests were also present from Iskenderun, Antioch, Adana and Mersin Catholic Churches as well as priests from Italy. Mersin Orthodox Church Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. İspir Teymur was also present.
Mersin, Adana, Antakya and İskenderun communities also participated in the ceremony. Panama Ambassador to Ankara Jorge Hernan Miranda Corona, Consul General to Istanbul Andres Gregorio Nunez and CHP Mersin Deputy Serdal Kuyucuoğlu also attended.
We are celebrating an important man, with an important moment in his life
Apostolic Nuncio Paul Fitzpatrick Russell during his sermon said: “We are here to celebrate an important moment in the life of an important man. It is a moment that instantly changes the world. St. Paul was right in this holy land and had a wonderful experience in his life, and that experience changed the world. We do not only remember St. Paul today, but through this event we understand the life of each one of us. St. Paul had a fire inside. That fire was a fire that changed his life. God saw his heart, God saw St. Paul’s love for Him. He really entered his life and showed him who the true God is. ”
Speaking about the love, Russell said: “We know that every one of us is a sinner. At the same time the idea of ’Who is God?’ is too small for us! God is great. We need to break our little ideas and come to the realization of God’s greatness. If we really want to serve God and prostrate, we must understand how much he loves us. The pain and the troubles that we have in our lives, will never end, but the more we share God’s love, the less we will feel them. ”
Prayer to God to Empower Our Soldiers
Mersin Orthodox Church Parish Priest Rev. Fr. İspir Teymur gave a short speech at the end of the celebration and said: “Every year we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul with the most sincere feelings of the harmony of the churches and organize this mass with the leading of the Catholic Church.” Referring to the ‘Operation of the Olive Branch’ initiated by the Turkish Armed Forces at the border of Afrin, Father Teymur expressed his wish for the Turkish troops God’s empower and hoped that the operation would be successful without harming any of Turkish soldiers.