To get a better picture of the IVE mission in Cyprus, one must know about the political conflict of 1974 between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and subsequent Turkish invasion. This conflict left the island divided in two, the Greek-Cypriots went to the south (mostly Orthodox Christians); while the Turkish-Cypriots and Turkish army took the north (mostly Sunni Muslims). This situation is complicated and remains until today, however, the relation between both sides is less tense now as the island becomes more secularized.
Cyprus has been at peace ever since, and is part of the EU since 2004, but the UN troops still keep guard over a buffer zone between the Greek and Turkish sides, this “border line” goes from northwest to southeast of the island and passes through the capital, Nicosia. The Turks in the north call their side the “Turkish Republic of Cyprus” but no country acknowledges them besides Turkey.
The Franciscans, whom we often visit, have been in Cyprus since the 13th century, and have a house right by the dividing line in Nicosia where they bravely stood throughout the whole ordeal in 74 when the fighting between Greeks and Turks broke out.
Our mission in Cyprus belongs to the province of “Death and Resurrection of the Lord,” which has missions in the cities of Anjara in Jordan; Beit Jala, Jerusalem and Sephoris in the Holy Land; Gaza in Palestine; Alepo in Siria; and Paphos in Cyprus; the Provincial Superior is Fr. Marcelo Gallardo, IVE. All these missions are within the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and although some are more difficult than others, we have a few challenges in common, such as difficult languages, different cultures, rough weather, etc.
We are in the city of Paphos in the southwest corner of the island, in a very touristic part of town where Agia Kyriaki (St. Dominica) is located, this is an ancient Orthodox Church which had been abandoned and is now considered an archeological site. The building was entrusted to a small Catholic community in 1985. The IVE arrived here in 2010, it was then that Fr. Carlos Ferrero, IVE came as pastor and the community officially became St. Paul’s Parish. Father Miguel de la Calle, IVE came about a year later, he is now superior in Papua New Guinea since I replaced him in September 2015.
St. Paul’s parish is neither big nor typical. In fact, we are the only Roman Catholics, or “Latins,” in the whole of Paphos District, this makes our community quite diverse, consisting mostly of retired Europeans from English speaking countries, some Polish families and immigrant workers from the Philippines, Sri-Lanka, India, Egypt, etc., who labor here to send money back home to their families. Tourists also are commonly found in our Liturgical celebrations.
Sad to say, the number and type of parishioners causes us to have very few children; the oratory, for example, has about 12 children on a good day, and there are currently 4 youth in our catechism program.
Around the year 2004, the parish began the groundwork for a very ambitious project called the “Archangel Michael Hospice,” a place where free palliative care could be given to terminal patients. Construction of the building practically came to a halt due illness of the previous pastor, but it was restarted upon Fr. Carlos’ arrival, and today patients are taken care of in state of the art facilities. The hospice operates solely on donations and fundraising activities organized by people both locally and abroad while remaining under the authority of the Pastor.
We ask for the prayers of our Religious family and commend ourselves to our Lady of Lujan, may her intercession grant us many fruits in the missions and perseverance for our religious.
Fr. Fernando Flores, IVE