The Year of Prayer in Southern Albania

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The solemn inauguration of the Jubilee 2025 is very close. The months of preparation are passing quickly in this year, 2024, dedicated to prayer in preparation for the great Jubilee event.

We Redemptorists, always inspired by the great Master of prayer and Doctor of the Church, our founder Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, take advantage of this, emphasized by Pope Francis to reinvigorate “the family relationship with God” among Christians.

We highlight some interesting activities, which occur in a multi-religious country like Albania. For example, the end of Lent coincided with the beginning of Ramadan fasting, and the celebration of Holy Week took place in parallel with the beginning of Lent for Orthodox brothers. Minarets and bell towers rang simultaneously, calling the believing children of Abraham to prayer. The sound of the bells and loudspeakers evoked in us the commitment to be, together with all the faithful of all faiths, men and women of prayer.

As we have already explained in previous articles, each Catholic community in the southern part of the country has no more than 15-25 members, most of whom are converts and, in many cases, are the only Catholics in the family. Sometimes, they left the small chapel to celebrate the Way of the Cross. Near Korça, in a village where there is only one baptized woman, we prayed the Way of the Cross on the dirt roads in one area, together with the Franciscan Sisters of the Gospel and missionaries from the diocese of Agrigento in Sicily.

It was very evocative to hear the muezzin’s call to prayer while, kneeling, we sing “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.” The cross makes its way with its superabundant redemption to all corners of the earth: “his message reaches to all the earth, and his language to the ends of the world.” (Ps 18.5)

Furthermore, close to the feast of Saint Joseph, we celebrated the diocesan Family Day, with the motto: “The Family, house of prayer.” We Redemptorists are entrusted with the responsibility of coordinating the activities of the Diocesan Commission for Families, the formation of the baptized and the protection of life.

The situation of the families here is very particular. At the meeting, there were only 7 Catholic couples, that is, with both spouses baptized. Therefore, the exchange of experiences in the groups was very interesting, because most of the participants pray and live together with people of other religions in their own homes. These Christians have the courage to read the Word of God to their relatives and to share with them both the holidays of the Catholic calendar and the solemn events of other religious traditions.

Finally, Holy Week and Easter have opened the way for us to other moments of encounter with Christ the Redeemer, in the various Easter celebrations in which we are accompanied by friends and relatives of other religions, who always carry the Easter candle with them.

On Good Friday, in Borsh, a coastal village that knows no asphalt, we carried the Cross among the torches to the rented house on whose balcony we celebrated the liturgy. The roar of the waves accompanied the dramatic story of the Passion and invited us to immerse ourselves in the immensity of Jesus’s Love.

Now begins the time of meetings with the Risen One, the moments of prayer before Jesus, Bread of Life, accompanied by Mary, Mother of the Lord and Teacher of prayer. We entrust these small Christian communities and our desires to experience a more intimate personal relationship with Jesus to his Perpetual Help.

Fr. Laureano Del Otero Sevillano C.Ss.R.
Interprovincial Mission of Albania