The Daugthers of the Church arrived in Turkey on September 21, 1994 at the request of Bishop Mons. Ruggero Franceschini, Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia since October 1993.
The Institute responded positively to the Bishop’s proposal: “In the land of the Holy Church, who but the Daughters of the Church?”.
Their charisma, “To know and to love, to bear witness to the Church, to make it known and loved, and to pray, work and suffer for it”, is perfectly in line with the Holy Land of the Church, and made clear to us by reading the “Acts of the Apostles”, where the dishiples were called Christians for the first time in Antioch.
Their role in Tarsus, a completely Islamic city, is not simple to define.
They welcome pilgrims who are “following the footsteps of Paul”, giving them the possibility to celebrate a dignified Holy Mass in the museum of St. Paul’s church, and offering them refreshments after the Eucharistic celebration.
“Theirs is not a mission of ‘doing’; it is a mission of presence”: of being there. Quiet presence, smiling, adoring, next to the only Tabernacle of Tarsus, next to the only small flame that is always lit.
The presence of the Daughters of the Church ensures that the stones that bear witness to the footsteps of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas, now forgotten and covered with dust, can return and speak to those who come on pilgrimage, renewing their commitment to the new evangelism.
The parish church of the Capuchin Fathers is in the city of Mersin, 30 kilometers from Tarsus.
Here they collaborate in pastoral work, catechetical instruction, liturgical animation, recreational activities, and in the encouragement and support of the Christian community.
“… We refuse to think of the Middle East without Christians. For two thousand years they have professed the name of Jesus, including those citizens who are fully part of a social, cultural and religious identity in the nations to which they belong”.
(Francis Pope to the bishops of the Middle East Churches)
In the suffering of the smallest and the weakest and in “the silence of the victims”, like sentinels of Biblical memory, Christians continue to ask themselves: ”how much longer the night?” (Is 21,11)