Tag Archives: SASEAS

the color blue is used only three times

22 Jul

Speaking of my three teachers (yesterday’s post), I took their picture together three times – on purpose.

On any map of the Holy Land of Palestine/Israel the color blue is used only three times: the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River and the Dead Sea.

Here are the St. Andrew teachers on the western shore of the Jordan River.

0 three teachers Jordan

Here they are in the front of a boat on the Sea of Galilee.

0 three teachers boat

I also have a photo of the three of them floating in the Dead Sea. You have to ask one of them to see that photo.


bless Sharon John, Abby William and Christy Earl

31 May

On May 28 at our St. Andrew-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School Mass for the 6th, 7th and 8th graders, we blessed three of our teachers who are making pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

blessing of teachers

We give you thanks for those who teach us along the way.

We give you thanks, O God, for those who teach us about you.

We give you thanks, O God, for those who teach us about right and wrong, and what it means to be Christian and what it means to be Catholic.

We give you thanks, O God, for these women who are spiritual mothers to all of their students.

And as they set out on their pilgrimage to the Holy Land, O God, we ask that you bless Sharon John, Abby William and Christy Earl. Keep them healthy. Keep them safe.

On this pilgrimage, O God, may they keep hope within themselves and be hope for someone else.

Draw them ever and ever more closer to yourself, O God, through your son, Jesus, and in the Holy Spirit. We give you praise now and forever. Amen.

Bless the One who shapes your beauty

7 Mar

As they waited for the Skype connection with the 1st grade students of Miss Ruya from the Latin Patriarchate School of St. Joseph in Nablus (West Bank, Palestine), Mrs. Phillips explained to her students that the children that they were going to meet were 6,000 miles away, and lived near Bethlehem.

The parents in Palestine had brought their children back to school a couple hours after school was out in order to Skype with our children from America.

The Palestinian children had a song ready – “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.” Our children clapped with joy, probably because they recognized the song. They probably didn’t realize how extraordinary it was that 6-7 years olds, whose first langauge is Arabic, were singing in English. Later, the same children would sing a song in Arabic, which Miss Ruya explained was about how they loved their country very much.

The teachers on both sides of the world tried to put some order into the energy and the enthusiasm of their students. Sometimes they were even successful. First graders, wherever they are, are first graders!

When it was our turn, the CD player went on, and our friends in Palestine heard, “All you works of God / Every mountain, star and tree / Bless the One who shapes your beauty / Who has caused you all to be / One great song of love and grace / Ever ancient, ever new / Raise your voices, all you works of God.”

Mrs. Phillips sang.

The children sang and made hand gestures that expressed the words of the song.

The  Arab children clapped with as much enthusiasm and appreciation as our children did.

They asked questions …

… and waited for answers.

There were questions (and answers) about snow, favorite sports, how old they were.

At the end of the visit, Mrs. Phillips spoke with the principal, Miss Abeer, who personally visited Mrs. Phillips classroom back in October. In June, Mrs Phillips goes to Miss Abeer’s school – and the circle of friendship will be complete.

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!

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.

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. 

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!

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.

In the Olive Garden with Ibrahim

10 Nov

Below is an article about Father Ibrahim Shomali and the Christians of Beit Jala. It appears on the website of the Latin Patriarchate Jerusalem (the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Jerusalem).

Father Ibrahim is the parish priest of Annunciation Church in Beit Jala. St. Andrew parish is in a twinning relationship with his parish, and our SASEAS school is in a twinning relationship with his parish school. Father Ibrahim will be visiting us in Milford in December, and will be with us for Sunday Mass, ensha’allah. Next June I will visit him in Beit Jala, and will celebrate Mass with him in the olive field of Beit Jala, God willing.

Beit Jala Christians pray to stop wall

Christians of Beit Jala attended an open-air Mass on Friday, November 4th to pray together against the Israeli decision to confiscate a part of their land. The Israeli government intends to extend the separation wall at the entrance of the Cremisan valley.

To protest against this decision, faithful gathered with the Pastor of Beit Jala, Father Ibrahim Shomali and Father Mario Corniole for an open-air Mass. An Israeli committee approved a plan to build 1,100 new houses on the south slopes of Gilo last September. To do this, the route of the wall “will confiscate land belonging to Christian people and Christian church,” reports a statement of the Latin parish. The idea is simple: protesting not by violence but by prayer. In the same statement, the parish priest and Christians of Beit Jala denounce “the  confiscation [by Israel] of the last green area in Beit Jala (Bethlehem district)”, considering “the annexation of the most beautiful lands in the Bethlehem area as a direct attack against the Palestinian people and especially  against Palestinian Christians.”

Soliciting members of the Quartet for the Middle East – including the United Nations, the Russian Federation, the United States and the European Union – and also calling upon the rest of the international community, the parish of Beit Jala called President Mahmoud Abbas’ government, the Latin Patriarchate and the civil society to do “everything possible to keep the land in the hands of its rightful owners.”

In the light of the message from Synod for the Middle East last year regarding the Christian presence in the Holy Land: “It is Church’s duty to support our presence. Therefore, we call the Holy See and Pope Benedict XVI to act  immediately, using all possible means to help protect our people.”

The Mass was celebrated in a field of olive trees which will probably be cut and uprooted. As recalled by Father Mario Corniole, olives were silent witnesses of Jesus’ suffering and agony in Gethsemane. Thus, Beit Jala parishioners attached to their land and their olive trees will meet every Friday on this “Gethésménai” where they still live in fear, but also with the hope that their land will always be respected.

Consider This Clermont: Palestinian Educators

23 Oct

Thank you, Theresa, Kellie and John!

Our local “Milford-Miami Advertiser” reported twice, with photos, on the visit of the Palestinian Educators to Milford. Enough thanks cannot be given to Theresa Herron, editor, and to reporters Kellie Geist-May and John Seney. They and their Community Press could not have done more.  

photo: John Seney/The Community Press

Palestinian educators share experiences” by John Seney was published on October 13, with accompanying photos of the children and classrooms of the St. Andrew campus of SASEAS school. Take a look and read by clicking on the title.

 photo: John Seney/The Community Press

Palestinian educators to partner with Milford, Cincinnati teachers” was published on September 23. Clicking on the headline will take you to Kellie Geist-May’s article.

photo: John Seney/The Community Press

If you want to express your appreciation, here are their email addresses: therron@communitypress.com
(Theresa Herron), kmay@communitypress.com (Kellie Geist-May) and jseney@communitypress.com
(John Seney).

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