The presence of the charisma of Mother Teresa, proclaimed a saint by the Holy Father Sunday, September 4 in St. Peter’s Square, illuminates the streets of the Holy Land in the joy of a smile and in service. The Missionary Sisters of Charity arrived in the Diocese of Jerusalem in 1970 and today have active communities in Gaza, Jerusalem, Nablus, and Bethlehem and, in Jordan, in Amman, Ermaimim and Rusaifeh. Some are active in reception centers, caring for the elderly or those with disabilities and giving support to poor families. In other realities they are a roving presence visiting families in their homes, and even enlivening catechism.
Moreover, in Nazareth, there is a community of the Contemplative Missionary Brothers of Charity. Besides the three classic vows – obedience, poverty, and chastity – the brothers profess a fourth official vow: to freely and wholeheartedly serve the poorest of the poor. On June 15, 2013, on the occasion of the solemn profession of five members of the congregation, the patriarchal vicar for Israel, Msgr. Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo blessed their new chapel dedicated to the Holy Family of Nazareth, like all the chapels of the Contemplative Missionaries of Charity. The altar contains the relics of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Saint Mariam Baouardy, Saint Marie Alphonsine Ghattas and Blessed Charles de Foucauld.
Mother Teresa made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1982 and, on that occasion, visited the Houses of Peace (Dar al-Salam) of her congregation in Amman (Tla el-Ali), Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nablus and Gaza. She also visited the seminary of the Latin Patriarchate in Beit Jala where she wrote on the guestbook that love is the foundation of a priest’s life.
The Missionaries of Charity have several active centers across the Middle East. We remember, with deep emotion, the community in Yemen which recently witnessed the violent loss of four sisters killed on March 4, one of which, Sister Anselm, had lived for some time at one of the houses in Jordan.
During the press conference for the canonization of Mother Teresa on September 2 at the Vatican Press Office, Sister Mary Prema Pierick, superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, responded to a journalist’s question asking what the future saint of Calcutta would have said about the current situation in the Middle East: “Dear brothers, love one another, take care of each other and come to each other’s aid because we are all children of the same heavenly Father and are created to love and be loved. The evil that we commit in conflict is to no one’s advantage but God wants to see us united”.
We join in prayer and thanksgiving for this woman of God whose life has brought many fruits to the Holy Land and throughout the world.
November 13, 2016