The importance of young people to witness Christian values
Ever since its restoration in 1847, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has always paid special attention to the youth, as it is thanks to them that Christian values such as faith, love and hope can endure and be shared. Through the pastoral education provided for by priests and congregations, and the multiple schools of the diocese, supported by the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, young Christians can deepen their religion and become active members of society by spreading the values of the Christian experience around them.
Care and love for people with disabilities: the centers and homes sustained by the Order
In Jordan, the Our Lady of Peace Center strives “to help the poorest of the poor, especially people with disabilities.” Father Shawki Baterian, director of the center, explains: “In Jordan, 13% of the population suffers from a disability. When the center started to receive funding in 2003, the idea was to provide a free service to all residents of Jordan, regardless of their religion or nationality.” This organization has many needs and the Order has been helping it for a long time, through various projects.
Preparing the seminarians to serve in the Latin Patriarchate parishes
Another lifelong beneficiary of the help given by the Order is the Seminary of Beit Jala. For more than 150 years, the Order has supported the fundamental work of training diocesan priests. Father Bernard Poggi, the current rector, says that the seminary has benefitted from various improvements in recent years and that the Knights and Dames have supported certain projects such as the renovation of the library or the auditorium, in addition to their fixed contribution to expenses.
Alongside the elderly, the sick and orphans. The Order's support for those most in need
In collaboration with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and a network of Catholic institutions, the Order also invests in the care and support of the elderly and orphans, as well as people with disabilities. Among the establishments that offer these services, without discrimination, living the Gospel in depth, is the retirement home of Beit Afram in Taybeh, which offers quality care to the elderly, encourages spirituality among its guests and its employees and enables them to interact with different church groups. In Jerusalem, at Saint-Louis, also called the French Hospital, terminallyill patients are offered palliative care. “Here we have patients of all religions: Christians, Muslims and Jews,” says Sister Frida Nasser, who works there. “They are all treated the same way, and it is nice to see people coming here, especially relatives of patients who get to meet each other. When facing suffering, there is no difference: Jews can talk to Muslims, Palestinians, Christians. This is really important for us and we try to pursue our mission as best we can.”
The Order’s contribution to the work of the St. James Vicariate with Hebrew-speaking Catholics
The St. James Vicariate for Hebrew-speaking Catholics is another important project for the Order. The Order’s assistance has made it possible to develop programs, purchase goods and materials to organize more activities for young people, as well as translate spiritual literature into Hebrew. Thanks to the contributions received, Father Piotr Zelazko, Patriarchal Vicar of the Saint James Vicariate, was also able to publish a book for members of the Vicariate who visit migrants in prison. Among the essential activities is also that of the Saint Rachel center, which welcomes the children of foreign workers, migrants and asylum seekers who are unable to look after them during the day.
Humanitarian support by the Order in the most disadvantaged areas of the Holy Land
There are also many activities related to humanitarian aid, especially in Gaza and the East Jerusalem region, where Christian families are often unable to cover their expenses. The Humanitarian Aid funding that the Order renews each year benefits those who need help with medication, school fees, and various other needs. Father Gabriel Romanelli, parish priest of Gaza, recalls that “Christians have lived here for more than 2,000 years, and we must protect this presence for the common good.”
Forming the new generations in the Holy Land - The mission of the Latin Patriarchate schools
The Order supports the Latin Patriarchate’s network of 44 schools, which welcome approximately 20,000 students. Msgr Jamal Khader Daibes speaks of his time as Director General of the Patriarchate Schools in Palestine at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We faced many challenges during this period” he says speaking of his time as director general of the Patriarchate’s schools in Palestine at the beginning of the Covid-19 emergency, ”such as the online learning and the equipment in our schools to deal with these problems. However, we were able to secure all the technological tools and train teachers to meet the needs of online learning. It would not have been possible to address these challenges without the support of the Order.”
The Order alongside parishes to maintain the Christian presence in the Holy Land
In the Holy Land, the Christian presence is fostered by the priests and members of the clergy who support it. Although many Christians often seek a better life elsewhere, parishes remain a beautiful and safe environment where the faithful can not only pray, but also share moments together and enjoy multiple activities.
The Order alongside the Latin Patriarchate strengthening pastoral guidance of local communities
Like a diocese, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem works alongside parishes and local communities in the region, and organizes pastoral and liturgical activities in the Holy Land through its Liturgical Office, its Catechetical Office and its Pastoral Office. Thanks to the support of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, these three offices have been able to widen their field of action and organize numerous events and activities. The Pastoral Office, founded in 2017, has for example created, thanks to funding from the Order, a game based on the Holy Scriptures entitled “In the footsteps of Jesus”, which allows young people to discover the life of Christ in an enjoyable and stimulating way. “This game that you have supported has helped our community become more familiar with their land and sacred places,” Father Ibrahim Shomali tells us.
"Job creation" program for youth in Gaza
The Order’s funded project to create jobs for young people in Gaza. Sami El-Yousef, CEO of the Latin Patriarchate, explains; “The easy solution is to provide people with some kind of monthly financial assistance, like a charitable grant. But we have made a more difficult choice that, in one way, is also more productive; namely to give people a job, depending on their specialization, by which they can really gain valuable experience and put it to use, so that they are potentially better equipped to find a job by themselves in the future.”
Solidarity with the people of Gaza
In Gaza, two million people, among whom live a small Christian community, are struggling on a daily basis to face with high unemployment rates, poor infrastructure, electricity cuts and little prospects for a better future, especially for the youth and for women. Faced with this reality, the Latin Patriarchate together with the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, supports people by providing humanitarian aid, implementing job creation and training programs as well as organizing pastoral activities.