Tag Archives: Cremisan

we cannot stand in the field, but …

2 Sep

St Andrew adoration September 2

Even though at this moment we cannot literally stand with our “family” of the Catholic parish of Beit Jala, as we literally stood with them whenever we go to the Holy Land on pilgrimage, we stand with them liturgically and virtually.

This evening, Wednesday, September 2, the doors of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Milford, Ohio, open wide to anyone who would like to pray silently before the Blessed Sacrament for our family in Beit Jala. Around 6:30 p.m. there will be a rosary, prayers to Our Lady of Palestine and the closing hymn, “Jerusalem My Destiny.”

Although we cannot stand with them in the fields of the Cremisan valley, they will know that we support them at this time and that we are praying with them and for them.

The live streaming camera will be turned on at 6:00 p.m. Go to the St. Andrew parish website.  On the left sidebar, look for “Church Cast,” and click on “Watch our Mass online”

St Andrew adoration September 2 number 2

at a time (and in a place) of your convenience

1 Sep

Cremisan prayer September 2, 2015

Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 2, the doors of St. Andrew the Apostle Church, Milford, Ohio, will open wide to anyone who would like to pray silently before the Blessed Sacrament for our family in Beit Jala (Bethlehem), West Bank, Palestine.

Exposition will begin at 10:00 a.m. and continue until 7:00 p.m. We invite you to join us in prayer at a time (and in a place) of your convenience.  The closing ceremony will be around 6:30 p.m. with a rosary, prayers to Our Lady of Palestine, and the hymn, “Jerusalem My Destiny.”

(The photo above pictures HOPE teacher/pilgrims at Mass in the Cremisan Valley of Beit Jala.)

stop the work on the wall

26 Aug

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wish I were there

21 Aug

Postcards sometimes come in the mail with a message from our friends, “Wish you were here.”

I am hoping my friends in the town of Beit Jala, in the area of Bethlehem, in the West Bank of Palestine, will see this message, sent by me to them, “Wish I were there.”

I wish I were there.

I wish I were there with you in Cremisan Valley.

I wish I were there with you to prayerfully protest the taking of your land.

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I wish I were there with you, as the Israeli government under the protection of the Israeli Defense Forces starts again to uproot your olive trees, to clear the way for the separation wall that they prepare to build on your land.

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I wish I were there to genuflect with you and your priests before the altar, decorated with new olive trees in front of it and Israeli soldiers behind it; before the altar, on which rests that blue ceramic chalice that was the gift of our parish and our teachers to you, when we celebrated Mass with you in that same valley. 082115 11222005_980856798657888_5074133491311356836_n

I wish I were there to stand beside your Catholic parish priest as he stands in front of – and stands up to – the Israeli soldiers.

082115 11887968_1097448430284141_441573760240644836_nI wish I were there with you in Cremisan Valley.

I wish I were there.

(Unfamiliar with the news story of August 18, 2015: see Israel resumes work on controversial separation wall in Cremisan ​​valley.)

Abuna Sleman in Beit Jala and in Fuheis

22 Nov

This week my friend, and friend of HOPE (Holy Land Outreach for Peace Education), is with me (and us) in Milford.

In the days ahead there will be photos of his visit. As he stirs upstairs in my rectory, after his first ever sleep in America, a very long sleep indeed, I post a few photos from when we met. 

Back in June 2012 then-deacon Sleman (Solomon) helped our group of teachers and pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati celebrate Mass in the olive grove of Cremisan valley on the edge of Beit Jala. That is when we first met him. 

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You see in the photo above that I am using a ceramic chalice. This chalice was signed on the bottom by all the teachers and pilgrims who attended that Mass.

That same evening I presented that chalice to Deacon Sleman.

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To this day that chalice is used every Friday afternoon, when the parish priests of Beit Jala celebrate Mass at that place in the Cremisan valley.

In June 2013 I went to the Holy Land, this time by myself with no pilgrims or teachers in my care, thanks be to God. The purpose of this trip was to attend the ordination of Sleman in his home parish of Fuheis, Jordan. During the  ordination ceremony, after the bishop, in his case the patriarch, lays hands on the deacon being ordained a priest, all the priests who are present process to the man and lay hands on him as well. 20130624-091123.jpg

A little later in the ceremony all the priests return to the newly ordained priest to offer him a sign of Christ’s peace. As I watched the Latin patriarchate priests approach him, I saw that they were kissing his newly ordained hands. I found it to be a lovely custom, and did the same after I said, “Peace, Abouna (Father)”

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After the ceremony the newly ordained does not walk to the dinner-reception. He is carried, as seen in this video. Notice the fire works going off.

The next day he returned to his home parish, in which he was ordained the day before, to preside at his First Mass of Thanksgiving. What a  surprise for me to see him riding into the courtyard of the parish grounds on a white horse! He told me just yesterday that it was a surprise for him, too, and that he had never been a horse before that ride.

This is probably my favorite photo of the day of his first Mass.

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 Welcome to Milford, Abouna Sleman (Father Solomon).

signing and singing

21 Aug

More than a year ago I signed a petition on Change.org, petitioning the Israeli authorities to “Save the valley in Cremisan: Support bridges, not walls.”

When prompted to write a reason for signing, I wrote:

“Our friends in Israel could clearly express their desire for reconciliation and security for all who live in the land by a decision NOT to build this section of the fence/wall in the Cremisan valley as it is proposed. Just think of the good public relations message that the Israeli government would put out and the good will that they would spread by making it known that they want the Christians to stay, that they want the people of Beit Jala to have a green space in which to rest and play, that they want the people of the area to have access to water, that they do not want the farmers to lose their livelihood, and that they want the children of the valley to feel safe and secure enough to live and learn as all children deserve – by making it known that they will NOT build that proposed wall/fence through the valley of Cremisan. The Israelis and the Israel government have an opportunity here that they do not often have to put their actions where their words are and their hearts where their minds are. An international audience would hear the message. Not building the wall/fence in the Cremisan Valley along the proposed route is a win-win situation for both the Israelis and the Palestinians, and especially for the children on both sides of that fence/wall that now divides them.”

Cremisan Society of St. Yves

This post appeared on August 8 on the Facebook page of the Society of St. Yves:

The Israeli Supreme Court informed today of its decision on the route of the separation wall in the Cremisan valley in Beit Jala, following the hearing which was held on August 4th, 2014.

The Court decided that as to Israel’s suggested route of the wall, Israel must take into consideration different possibilities by which both Salesian convents in Cremisan are taken in and included within the Palestinian side of the wall. The Court gave Israel until September 4th, 2014 to respond to its decision.

As such, St. Yves’ lawyer Zvi Avni, representing the Salesian Nuns Monestary in Cremisan said today that: “The Court’s decision cannot be considered a final ruling on the case. However, it is a sign that the Court has taken into consideration the importance of respecting religious rights and freedoms and the unity of the Salesian convents”.

The wall being built through the land and homes of Palestinian communities dividing families, isolating them from their farmland and their livelihoods, and cutting off religious institutions, has continually been condemned by international legal institutions. Notably On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice found the separation wall to be illegal under international law and international humanitarian law.

It is not finished yet, but this is a reason for singing!

three reasons

20 Aug

During the Mass in Cremisan valley our pilgrim-teachers saw three reasons for why they were praying and singing in the olive grove.

Here are two …

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… and here’s a third.

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These children deserve a green space in which to picnic and play.  

That’s why we sang and prayed.

 

this chalice

19 Aug

In June our pilgrim-teachers joined Father Ibrahim, the local parish priest of Beit Jala, for the every Friday afternoon Mass in an olive grove of the Cremisan valley. We prayed for a particular answer to a particular prayer: that the Israeli security wall not be built along the proposed route through the valley.

Father Ibrahim told the international visitors and the local people in attendance that the group of teachers that came from Cincinnati in 2012 brought a chalice with their names inscribed on the bottom as a gift to the parish of Beit Jala and as a sign of solidarity and continued prayers. Abouna (Arabic for Father) said that this chalice has been used every week since then.

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It was this chalice that I prepared for Mass with the wine and water.

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It was this chalice that Abouna Ibrahim raised high at the consecration of the Mass, holding the blood of Christ “poured out for us and for all.”

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to Francis from Beit Jala

1 Feb

Shomali and Pope Francis

Pope Francis receives message from Beit Jala Christians

VATICAN – In an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Father Ibrahim Shomali, parish priest of Beit Jala, delivered a message from the people of the city to the Holy Father relating the current suffering of Christian families in the town of Beit Jala.

Fr. Shomali emphasized to the Holy Father the extent of the Israeli oppression regarding the people of Beit Jala, through its expropriation of private lands to open roads and build settlements, including the Wall of Separation, and, more recently, the seizure of lands belonging to the Convent of Cremisan.

Fr. Shomali’s message focused on the fact that the “Palestinian people” strongly adhere to its national homeland and its fight to stay on it. However, the conservation of lands requires concrete measures to thwart any takeover attempt, and to enable the Palestinian people to live with dignity in a free State.

It is worth recalling here that an Israeli Court in Tel Aviv last April adopted a decision reaffirming the course of the Separation Wall, around Cremisan, especially between the Convents of the Salesian Fathers and the Salesian Sisters, as well as the annexation of private properties belonging to 58 Palestinian families of Beit Jala to the settlement of Gilo, south of Jerusalem.

The Heads of the Catholics Churches in the Holy Land, at the time, called for the realignment of the course of the Wall, in accordance with internaitonal law, pointing out to the Israeli decision-makers that the seizure of lands in no way serves the cause of peace, nor  does it  bolster the position of the moderates who, in this objective, opt for non-violence.

send your children to school with these conditions?

2 May

Cremisan Salesian Sisters three sides

nuns and children to be walled in on three sides of their school?

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nuns and monks separated by concrete wall and hindered from praying together?

“Israeli court OKs construction of barrier through Salesians’ property”

By Judith Sudilovsky
Catholic News Service

May 1, 2013

JERUSALEM (CNS) — An Israeli court has approved the construction of the Israeli separation barrier along a route that will nearly surround a convent and its primary school and confiscate most of their land on the outskirts of Beit Jala, West Bank.

After more than six years of legal proceedings, the decision was handed down by the Israeli Special Appeals Committee for Land Seizure under emergency law in late April.

“This solution is still unacceptable for us because the school will be encircled on three sides by the wall,” said Anica Heinlein, advocacy officer at the Society of St. Yves, which has been representing the Salesian Sisters of Cremisan, who operate the school and an after-school program for 400 children. “The street leading to the school will go along the wall and will have a heavy military presence. Whenever the gate is open or there is some security concern, there will also be a military presence. Also you wouldn’t want to send your children to school with those conditions.”

The Israeli separation barrier is a series of cement slabs, barbed-wire fences and security roads that would effectively separate Beit Jalla from two Israeli settlements, creating a strip of land that could be used for expansion and the eventual joining of the settlements.

The plan, which leaves the convent and school on the Palestinian side of the wall, will also cut off the Salesian sisters’ convent from the neighboring Salesian male community, which will be on the Israeli side of the wall. Though a gate is to be placed in the wall to ease movement between the two communities, Heinlein said that this is a violation of religious freedom.

The Salesian men “come on a daily basis to the nuns to celebrate the holy Mass; this is not freedom of religion,” she said.

The wall will also put limitations on two religious processions traditionally celebrated every year by the residents of the neighboring village of Beit Jala, she added.

The gate is designed to also allow farmers and landowners access to their lands on opposite sides of the wall, though they will need permits to reach them.

Heinlein said the Society of St. Yves is considering taking the case to the Israeli High Court.
 

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