Tag Archives: Latin Patriarchate Jerusalem

three Palestinian women named Mary – all in heaven and for the earth

15 May

two MarysSunday, May 17, Pope Francis canonizes four religious sisters.

Two of them are  Palestinians: 

Marie-Alphonsine, founder of Palestine’s first congregation, the Sisters of the  Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem, and

Mariam of Jesus Crucified Baouardy, the founder of Carmelite Convents in Bethlehem and India.

Speaking of the two Arab Palestinian women, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Patriarch of the Latin Patriarchate Jerusalem, said, “Now, we have two new saints who represent a model of perfection for Christians, as well as for Muslims and Jews alike. They are both named Mary, and this name is widespread and commonly used among all three  traditions. It is a sign of our modern time which suggests that we can talk about the three religions without any discrimination.”

Mother Mary, Marie-Alphonsine and Mariam of Jesus Crucified, all in heaven, pray for all who live in your native, mother land.

arab women saints three Marys

they are just children

8 Aug

Gaza omer2

There is a small Catholic community in Gaza. Holy Family Catholic Church has opened its buildings to Gazans seeking refuge and safety. In the church Mother Teresa’s sisters take care of 28 handicapped children and nine elderly women. There are 1,400 people being given shelter in the partially damaged school building. It is the only Catholic Church in Gaza. The priest refuses to leave his people and the people in his care.

Gaza Father jorge Gaza

Resources are scarce. I am going to wire a personal donation to Archbishop Fouad Twal of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Archbishop knows Milford and St. Andrew. Back in 2006 he slept in my house and celebrated Mass for our school children, baptizing one of our newborns. I will send my money to him, telling him that I want it to be used for the children of Gaza, and for the school and the parish of Holy Family.

Gaza AFP3394263_LancioGrande

If you want to add your donation to mine, send a check payable to “St. Andrew Catholic Church,” making a memo on the check and addressing the envelope to “Holy Family / Gaza.” Send your donation to St. Andrew Catholic Church, 552 Main Street, Milford, Ohio 45150. Get it to us by Monday, August 18. On Tuesday morning, August 19, I will wire my donation, along with yours, from the bank that holds the accounts of our parish to the bank in Jerusalem designated by Archbishop Twal. I will email the Archbishop to let him know that help is coming from the parishioners and friends St. Andrew parish.

To give assistance to the innocent and non-combatant people of Gaza can reduce desperation and is good for both Palestinians and Israelis. Please join me in giving some hope by offering some assistance.

See photos of damage done to the convent, the living quarters of the Sisters, in yesterday’s post, “recently renovated.”

recently “renovated”

7 Aug

This is the chapel where the Sisters used to live at Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza, prior to the warring between Israel and Hamas. The chapel had been recently renovated.Holy Family chapel 01

Here’s the chapel after it was “renovated” during the shelling of Gaza. Notice that the tabernacle was “moved” from its place. 

???????????????????????????????

The typical room of one of the sisters looked, prior to the warring, like you would expect a sister’s room to look: simple, neat and clean, desk cleared, bed made, statues.Holy Family sisters room 01

Thankfully the sisters had left before the room was shelled. 

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

The priest who heads the Chancery, the official administrative office of the Archbishop Twal of the Latin Patriarchate Jerusalem, sent these photos to me to me by email today. I had asked for a couple photos to help me ask my parishioners for money to send to Jerusalem to help the people of Gaza. Father George was kind and quick with his response.

Here at our St. Andrew parish we will continue to pray until peace prevails. May the temporary mutual ceasefire lead to lasting safety and justice, followed by peace for all. May the cautious calm now lead eventually to a final peace – for Israelis and Palestinians, for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

“literally deteriorating”

26 Jul

0 Holy Family Gaza 03

Bishop William Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate Jerusalem speaks about the Catholic church in Gaza:

“The Christian community in Gaza is less than 1,500. Among them, 200 are Catholics. The others are mainly Orthodox and some Anglicans. We run three Catholic schools and one Anglican hospital. The Christian presence in Gaza is stronger than its percentage.

For the moment, we don’t have special news about the destruction and losses incurred by the Christian community, although we are in contact on a daily basis with its courageous parish priest, Fr. Jorge Hernandez. We know from him that the faithful did not come to Mass last Sunday. They were afraid to come. Many people are deprived of basic needs such as sleeping at night because of what they hear.

Our Catholic school in Gaza, which is part of the parish compound, welcomed many homeless, who escaped the shelling of their quarter in Al Shujaieh and Al Zaitouneh. They are around 600 people living and sleeping in the school without the necessary equipment. They need food and water.”

For the entire interview with Bishop Shomali, click on Situation in Gaza ‘literally deteriorating’ says Latin Rite Auxiliary Bishop

change the route of the wall

30 Apr

JERUSALEM – The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land issued a press release following the verdict last week favoring the construction of the wall of separation in the Cremisan Valley. The appeal called for a change in the course of the wall according to the route of the ‘green line’.

Holy Land Bishops Ordinaries

Communiqué:

A few days ago, an Israeli court in Tel Aviv issued its verdict on the Cremisan Valley issue, endorsing the previously decided path of the wall separating the convent of the Salesian Sisters who run a thriving school and at the same time includes the lands of 58 Palestinian families from Beit Jala to the area of the Israeli settlement of Gilo.

We are frustrated by this unjust decision that invokes the need for security of Israel but also the difficulty of changing the route of the already built portion of the wall, which makes us a fait accompli. Note that fait accompli cannot become the source of a new law. 

This is why we join all those who work for peace and justice. We ask to change the route of the wall along the “Green Line”. We hope that this will take place in the Supreme Court.

We remind Israeli decision-makers that the expropriation of lands does not serve the cause of peace and does not strengthen the position of the moderates.

With our prayers for peace in the Holy Land, on the basis of mutual respect and international legitimacy,

His Beatitude Fouad Twal
Latin Patriarch of Jérusalem
Président of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land

8:30 am Milford – and – 3:30 pm Beit Jala

8 Feb

Mass has been celebrated in Cremisan valley every Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in a prayer-protest of a proposed new section of what is called a separation wall by the Palestinians and a security fence by the Israelis. Whether it is for separation or security, it is definitely a wall, and not a fence, in this section of the structure that divides Beit Jala and Jerusalem.

Earlier in January Father Ibrahim Shomali, the pastor of Annunciation Catholic Church in Beit Jala, celebrated the Mass in the cold and snow, after an unusual snowfall a couple days before.fr_ibraheem 2

We see on the altar a blue-green pottery chalice. Father Shomali has used this chalice for the weekly Mass ever since June.

We brought it from Cincinnati as a gift to him and the parish. So, after we used it when we celebrated Mass in that olive grove in Cremisan valley on the edge of the town of Beit Jala in the Bethlehem-area, we left it behind, so that they might remember us in prayer as we remember them in prayer. ibrahin snow bend over 7

Today – Friday, February 8 – will be the last day that Father Shomali will celebrate Mass in that olive grove before the final decision of the Israeli government.  A final decision of the Israeli Court will be handed down on February 12. Will Israel take control of the Cremisan valley? Or will the Cremisan valley remain in the hands of the Palestinians?

PRAY. At 8:30 a.m.(Milford time) pray in solidarity with Father Ibrahim and the people of Beit Jala as they celebrate Mass at 3:30 p.m. (Beit Jala time).

ACT. As urged by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, sign the petition that will be taken to Israeli authorities in protest of the proposed building of this section of the wall.

save the valley in Cremisan: online petition

31 Jan

Cremisan school

The Society of St. Yves is the Catholic Center for Human Rights of the Latin Patriarchate (the Roman Catholic Archdiocese) in the Holy Land. The lawyers of this society have been arguing before the Israeli Supreme Court, at the request of the Latin Patriarchate, asking the Court to stop the Israeli government from building a new section of the security fence (separation wall) through the Cremisan valley at the edge of Beit Jala (Bethlehem).

Crem 97 Cremisan ohio_2012m

Last summer I celebrated Mass in Cremisan valley, and wrote about the place in this previous post: “Not on Friday, but on Tuesday.”

The Society of St. Yves outlines the reasons against the building of this section of the wall, and provides an online petition of support for their position that will be sent to Israeli authorities.  Find out more and sign the petition at “Save the valley in Cremisan: Support bridges, not walls!

When I signed the petition, I wrote this as my reason for signing:

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.

Crem 90 Cremisan jen holy land 964 (205)

You are most welcome

31 Dec

While on pilgrimage in the Holy Land in June 2012 with a group of teachers from various schools in our Archdiocese of Cincinnati we celebrated an outdoor Mass in Cremisan Valley in an olive grove. It was then that we met Deacon Sleiman (Solomon), a student at the Latin Patriarchate Seminary who is serving as deacon at Annunciation Church in Beit Jala.

In his car Deacon Solomon led our bus on its way through the village of Beit Jala, up over the hill and around the winding roads, to the Cremisan Valley. In the open trunk of his car, he brought along an altar table, and inside the car he had everything we needed for Mass. He was the perfect host and gentleman. He is, in the words of one of our pilgrim-teachers, a holy man – and he will be a good and holy priest.

As you see him and hear him in this YouTube video, enjoy his smile and his obvious love for the Church. We can assure  y0u that he means it when he says, “You are most welcome to be here with us in our Annunication Church in Beit Jala.”

“Kairos Palestine” Document

22 Apr

For the sake of my fellow pilgrim-teachers here is a link to The Kairos Palestine Document – A moment of truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.

محادثة “skype” مع مدرسة “Saint Andrew”

1 Mar

On February 28 students from Saint Joseph School in Nablus, in the West Bank of Palestine, visited by Skype with 6th graders from St. Andrew-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton school in Milford, Ohio.

Students from the two Catholic schools were 6,000 miles away, but technology brought them together to see each other’s smiles and to hear each other’s voices.

As one of the Palestinian students sat close to the computer, the others in the classroom watched on a large screen. They saw our students sitting in the hall below our church. Note in the bottom right corner of the next photo: in Palestine it was 420 p.m. The students had finished their school day, had gone home to eat the main meal of the day, and returned, yes, returned to school in order to meet our students who were just beginning their school day at 9:20 a.m.

In the classroom with the students …

… were Miss Abeer, their Principal, and Miss Ruya, their English teacher. Both Miss Abeer and Miss Ruya had visited our school last October. Our 6th grade teacher at St. Andrew, Mrs. Barbara Ambs, worked out the details of the online visit with Miss Ruya. They each prepared their own students, and pulled off this miracle visit, not giving up, even after technological problems forced them to cancel the first two attempts.

And look who else was in the classroom in Nablus: Father Johnny, the parish priest of St. Joseph.

A Palestinian girl asked her question. She spoke in English. She and her classmates began studying English in the first grade – and French, too. Notice the piece of paper. Isn’t that cute? She had her question ready.

Then she smiled, as she got an answer from her new American friend, who also spoke in English, of course. It would have been a very short visit and conversation, if our students needed to speak in Arabic.

It was fun for all: students, teacher and parish priest – on both sides.

This smile says it all. It’s for the children!