Tag Archives: HOPE (Holy Land Outreach to Palestinian Educators)

the “we” will mean something different

11 Jan

At the end of our first two-hour session, with our minds on our June 2012 Pilgrimage of Hope to the Holy Land, we sang “The Servant Song.” We will sing this hymn often, as we continue to prepare “for” pilgrimage together in June, and as we remember that we are already “on” pilgrimage together right now. 

When we arrive in the Holy Land, we will sing this hymn with our brother and sister Christians in Jordan, Israel and Palestine. Imagine the feel of the words, as we alternate verses between the Americans and the Arabs. The “we” will mean something different to us then. The hymn will take on new meaning.   

Will you let me be your servant?
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I may have the grace,
To let you be my servant, too.

We are pilgrims on a journey,
We are brothers on the road.
We are here to help each other,
Walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ light for you,
In the night-time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you,
Speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping,
When you laugh I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow,
Till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven,
We shall find such harmony.
Born of all we’ve known together,
Of Christ’s love and agony.

Will you let me be your servant?
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I may have the grace,
To let you be my servant, too.

to Our Lady of Palestine

10 Jan

The preparations for the next HOPE (Holy Land Outreach to Palestinian Educators) pilgrimage have begun. Twenty-two of us, more than half of them teachers themselves, will visit and interact with teachers and administrators in the Latin Patriarchate schools in Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

This pilgrimage is the third step in what is hoped will be a lasting relationship. American teachers have been to the Holy Land. Holy Land teachers have been to America. With this pilgrimage, the partnership in learning continues: another group of American teachers will be on their way to the Holy Land in June 2012.

At the very beginning of our preparation, we prayed a “Prayer to Our Lady of Palestine.”

O Mary Immaculate,
gracious Queen of Heaven and of Earth,
behold us prostrate before thy exalted throne.
Full of confidence in thy goodness
and in thy boundless power,
we beseech thee to turn a pitying glance upon Palestine,
which more than any other country belongs to thee,
since thou hast graced it with thy birth,
thy virtues and thy sorrows,
and from there hast given the Redeemer to the world.

Remember that there especially
thou wert constituted our tender Mother,
the dispenser of graces.
Watch, therefore, with special protection
over thy native country,
scatter from it the shades of error,
for it was there the Sun of Eternal Justice shone.

Bring about the speedy fulfillment of the promise,
which issued from the lips of Thy Divine Son,
that there should be one fold and one Shepherd.

Obtain for us all that we may serve the Lord
in sanctity and justice during the days of our life,
so that, by the merits of Jesus
and with thy motherly aid,
we may pass at last from this earthly Jerusalem
to the splendors of the heavenly one.


the Joy and Hope of being Remembered

28 Dec

Mr. Waseim, the computer teacher at the Latin Patriarchate School in Beit Jala (Bethlehem) had visited with us in November, along with other teachers and school personnel from the West Bank (Palestine), Israel and Jordan.

At Christmas he sent to us a photo of the candles that he lighted in Bethlehem. The first one (in the photo above) is for “Father Rob” and the fourth is for “St. Andrew parish.” The fifth one is for our school and his school. The last one is in thankful memory of all the people he met in the USA. Candle two and three are for Nancy and JoAnne, two of our parishioners here at St. Andrew who spent a great deal of love – and sweat and blood – preparing for the visit of the teachers and dealing with all the intricacies and details during their days with us.

At Midnight Mass here at St. Andrew we lighted a peace candle for them. I had purchased the peace-dove at the Catholic parish in Taybeh in the West Bank, and brought it back with me for this purpose on this night.

Our hope is that it was as good for our friends in the Holy Land to know that we remembered them as it was for us to know that they remembered us in the very town where Jesus was born on the very night on which we celebrate his birth.

In Miss Eman’s Own Words and Language

22 Dec

Below is an account of the December 20, 2011 “visit’’ (by way of Skype) between the 3rd grade class of Miss Eman in Beit Jala and the 4th grade class of Mrs. Schweickart in Milford. 

Miss Eman wrote this account, which is online at the parish website of the Church of the Holy Family, Ramallah, Palestine, the Holy Land – Pastor: Father Faisal Hijazin. It can be found here.

لقاء عبر الانترنت بين مدرسة البطريركية في بيت جالا ومدرسة القديس أندرو في أمريكا

 2011-12-22 02:59

   ضمن برنامج التوأمة مع مدرسة القديس اندرو في ولاية اوهايو في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية ومدرسة البطريركية اللايتينة في بيت جالا جرى يوم الثلاثاء 20/12/2011 أول لقاء عبر الانترنت باستخدام برنامج Skype وهو اللقاء الأول من نوعه جرى في مدارس البطريركية للصفي الثالث الاساسي في المدرسة في بيت جالا وطلاب الصف الرابع من مدرسة سانت اندرو..

وقد تم التغلب على مشكلة الوقت التي واجهت طاقم التحضير لهذا فقد جرى هذا اللقاء في الساعة الرابعة عصرا حسب التوقيت الفلسطيني والساعة التاسعة صباحا حسب التوقيت في ولاية اوهايو وقد تبادل الطرفان الأسئلة حول كيفية التدريس والوقت والحياة المدرسية والاجتماعية من كلا الطرفين وأيضاً تم القاء بعض الأسئلة من كلا الطرفين والإجابة عليها.

 وفي آخر اللقاء تم تبادل تهاني عيد الميلاد المجيد بين الطلاب الصفين وأيضاُ قام طلابنا بتقديم ترتيلة لعيد الميلاد فيا للغة العربية وهم بدورهم رتلوا لعيد الميلاد باللغة الانجليزية.

وقتم تعليمهم بعض الكلمات في اللغة العربية مثل عيد ميلاد وسعيد وغيرها وتم الاتفاق على أن يتم اعاد مثل هذه اللقاءات في المستقبل لما له من آثار ايجابية على الطرفين.
وقد اشرف على تجهيز تقنيات هذا للقاء الاستاذ وسيم كسابرة من مدرسة البطريكية اللاتينية في بيت جالا مسؤول قسم الحاسوب وتكنولوجيا المعلومات في المدرسة بالإضافة الى المعلمة ايمان عمرو معلمة اللغة العربية للصف الثالث التي قامت بتحضير الطلاب لهذا اللقاء وايضاً المعلمة روجيس قمصية المسؤولة الاكاديمية في الادارة العامة لمدارس البطريركية اللاتينية وكذلك الاستاذ سهيل دعيبس من الادارة العامة وبحضور معلمة اللغة الانجليزية المعلمة سهيلة صليبي للصف الثالث ايضاَ.

نتمنى الاستمرار لمثل هذه اللقاءات لسماع الصوت الفلسطيني وسماع الصوت المسيحي لكافة ارجاء العالم .

Were we the only school in the U.S. that “skyped” with Bethlehem today?

20 Dec

The 4th graders from our St. Andrew-St. Elizabeth Seton school visited with the 3rd graders from the Latin Patriarchate School in Beit Jala (Bethlehem), Palestine. Speaking with children in Bethlehem right before Christmas – how cool is that! 

These Palestinian children live in Bethlehem. They are Christians – just like us – in a Catholic school – just like ours. 

There is Miss Eman, their teacher. When she was in the classroom with our students at our school in November, her face just lit up. She makes her students smile.  

This is Mr. Waseim, their computer teacher. He is very clever – and very computer savvy. He has been to our school, too.  

 They sang “Jingle Bells” in Arabic. We clapped for them. 

We sang “Silent Night” in English. They clapped for us.  

It was a wonderful Christmas gift for me to be able to see and hear my two worlds, my two loves – Milford and Beit Jala – come together at Christmas.  

Mrs. Schweickart is our teacher. Last summer she went to the Beit Jala school, where she met Miss Eman and Mr. Waseim. In November she welcomed them to our school.  

We hope to visit again, by skype and in person. Ensha’allah. God willing. 

Longing for Hope, Many Despair

5 Dec

At the closing prayer of our farewell dinner, with the lights in the room dimmed and candles burning, the Light of Christ shone brightly among us and within us, as we sang with Hala from Nazareth, Rogeece from Beit Sahour, Suhail from Zebabdeh, Waseim from Beit Jala, and Ruya from Nablus. They are teachers. They are Palestinians. They are Christians. They are our friends. They are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.


Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled.
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has pow’r to save us.
Make us your living voice. 

Longing for food, many are hungry.
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us your bread, broken for others,
shared until all are fed.Longing for shelter, many are homeless.
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us your building, sheltering others,
walls made of living stone.

Many the gifts, many the people,
many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another,
making your kingdom come. 

Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

“It was kind of you to share in my distress”

1 Dec

A people without hope perish.

A program called HOPE – Holy Land Outreach to Palestinian Educators – brought Christians teachers together. They teach in Catholic schools, in Cincinnati and in the Holy Land. What they have in common is that they teach children – and they teach with hope.

During the visit of our friends from the West Bank, Israel and Jordan, we prayed in many places and at many times.

We prayed on a Sunday with the people of St. Andrew parish, Milford …

We prayed on a school day with the children of St. Lawrence school, Price Hill …

We prayed with the Sisters of Charity at their motherhouse, Delhi …

Having heard the personal stories of our Jordanian and Palestinian friends, and having shared in their struggles and sufferings as teachers, parents, citizens and believers living as a minority in their lands, we celebrated a last Mass together before they left toward home. Be in awe – and be filled with hope – as you read what was proclaimed at that Mass from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, noting that the reading was not specifically chosen for the occasion but “just happened” to be the reading permanently assigned to that day in the Church’s established calendar of readings:

“Brothers and sisters:  I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of  being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in  need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress. My God will fully supply  whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our  God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.”

We got what it takes!

1 Dec

What does it take to begin a partnership between St. Andrew-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in Milford and the Latin Patriarchate School in Beit Jala?

passion for learning

love of children

hope and gratitude

desire and longing

talent and faith

… and …

SASEAS principal, Tom

Beit Jala teacher, Eman          Beit Jala teacher, Waseim

… and …

the “techies” – Waseim (LPSBJ) … George (SASEAS) 

… and …

the “teachers” – Sue (America) … Eman (Palestine)

What does it take to build and continue a partnership between our SASEAS and their LPSBJ?

passion for learning

love of children

hope and gratitude

desire and longing

talent and faith

Eman … Tom … Waseim … George … Sue

We got what it takes!

“Keep my spirit, until I come back”

29 Nov

At the farewell dinner the night before the Christian teachers from the Holy Land left us to fly back home, Rogeece, in the name of the group, presented me with a piece of olive wood in the shape of a heart. This is how she explained the gift: 

When we were at the Freedom Center, I watched a six-to-seven minute video about a young boy who was from a slave family. He was escaping, in order to look for freedom, and then return to his family. His hope was to bring back freedom for all of them. When the young boy was about to say goodbye to his mother and his young sister, he gave them a heart-shaped stone. Handing his heart to his sister, he said, “Keep my spirit, until I come back.” He meant to come back as a human being, with all his rights and dignity, to give freedom to all of them.

As we leave Cincinnati, we give a heart-shaped piece of olive wood to you, our father, and to our sisters and brothers that we leave behind. We ask you to keep our spirit, until we get peace in our land, the Holy Land, until we live with our families in peaceful and just conditions, and until we return with dignity.

I will keep your heart close to my heart, Rogeece. I will keep your spirit, until you come back.

Peace the Angels Sang About

23 Nov

In the fields near Bethlehem … “Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Bethlehem is still not enjoying the peace that the angels sang about on that first Christmas night.

When we sing the Gloria at Mass, we begin, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.” We sing the hymn of the angels at Christmas.

Eman, a teacher in the Catholic school in Beit Jala near Bethlehem, was at St. Andrew a few weeks ago, with other teachers from Catholic schools throughout the Holy Land. Coming from the West Bank, from Jordan and from Israel, the teachers spent time with teachers from our school, learning together and establishing a partnership for continued learning together.

At Sunday Mass as we sang the Gloria, we noticed Eman looking up.

A teacher from Bethlehem looking up as the hymn of the angels is sung. Was she hearing the angels? Was she expecting to hear them? Was she thinking of the angels and their peace song? Was she thinking of her students in Bethlehem who long for the peace about which angels sing?

We did not ask. We thought it best to leave it between her, the angels and the Prince of Peace born in Bethlehem.