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Christians in Gaza

  1. Christianity was initially penetrated into Gaza by Deacon Philip (Acts 8: 27)
  2. In the year 400, the total number of Palestinian Christians in Gaza was only 300. These were among 18000 citizens who were pagans then.
  3. St Hilarion (290-371) was born of pagan parents near Gaza, and was converted. He is the founder of  the coenobitism in the Eastern world.
  4. St Porphyr (395 – 450) with the help of Eudoxie, the wife of the emperor Arcadios in Constantinople, restored Christianity in Gaza by destroying the pagan temples.
  5. The total number of Palestinian Christians in Gaza today is 3000 distributed between both denominations: Greek Orthodox 2800, and 200 who are Catholics.
  6.  More than the half of the Christians currently living in Gaza are refugees who originally came from the 1948 cities; mainly from Jaffa and Lod.
  7. On their arrival to Gaza, these refugees settled in the Latin convent and the school playground.
  8.  In 1957, they were supported by the church to move to Al-Rimal beach and were helped to build small houses. Since then, this complex is called the Christian camp and which is located close to the Beach Camp.
  9. Currently, there are twenty six Christian families who are still living in the beach Camp. However, some families sold their houses to Moslems and emigrated.
  10. In this camp, we have a convent for the Little Sisters of Jesus (Catholic sisters). They are two sisters: One works in a school and the other stays at home to welcome the Moslem and Christian visitors who seek spiritual support.
  11. Additionally, the camp includes a notorious clinic, which offers medical services and treatment to the poor people residing in the Beach Camp. The clinic includes a small laboratory and a small pharmacy, with three doctors to treat patients. The Caritas Jerusalem owns the clinic.
  12. The Catholic Church in Gaza runs:
  • A secondary school that consists of six hundred students and starts with grade 1 until grade 12. It has been built on 2002. The piece of land was a gift from late President Arafat. Two Rosary Sisters are helping me in teaching religion
  • Preparatory school from the kindergarten to the 9th grade with 500 students 
  • A cultural center that opens its doors in the afternoon where certified courses are given on executive secretary, accounting, banking, printing, and languages. These courses are given to over than 100 students who have graduated from the National Tawjili exams with a low GPA that does enable their entrance to universities
  • An elementary school of three hundred students, which is run by two of the Rosary Sisters. The school, which is expected to witness a bigger number of students in the coming years, is constructed on a piece of land donated by the late President Yasser Arafat.
  • The Sisters of Charity convent established by the sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta (Catholic). Six sisters take care of sixteen handicapped children, sixteen elderly females, and a kindergarten with seventy students who comes from a severe poor and needy background is very poor.
  1. The Greek Orthodox Church, on its part, owns and runs a primary school with 350 students on a piece of land donated by President Arafat. A new and a bigger construction for the church is to take place next year on a piece of land donated as well by President Arafat.
  2. The Holy Family Church is the name given for the Catholic Church. The pastor is Father Manuel Musallam; a Palestinian priest from Birzeit
  3. St Porphyr Church is the name given for the Orthodox Church. The pastor is Bishop Alexios from Greece who is a resident of Gaza, and Father Elias Awad; a Palestinian priest from Beit Sahour
  4. We have also a small Baptist community of fifty members. They have a small church and a library. In addition, this group dedicatedly serves in one of the hospitals in Gaza
  5. We have a small catholic community in Khan Younis (27 persons) who are not privileged with any religious services. This community comprises of the families of returnees who entered the country with President Arafat on 1993. The patriarchate keeps on constant social contacts with this community.
  6. The Council of Churches [a foundation supported  by the different churches] is a foundation that runs training centers and clinics in the Strip.
  7.  Another Christian foundation is the YMCA for adults, which comprises of playgrounds to practice gymnastic, a hall for the different activities and a kindergarten. Moslems as well as Christians benefit from the services offered.
  8. Many Christian girls from Asian poor countries come to work in Gaza strip. As thriving to receive spiritual and moral guidance, the patriarchate is keen to be for them in these two main domains. However, the monthly salary they receive is severely low (150 $ a month). Since all are Catholics, we tend to maintain in constant contacts with them and follow up their needs.
  9. We have also Christian foreigners who work in the different departments of the United Nations and UNRWA. Their number is indefinite and some of them are Protestants.
  10. A considerable number of Christian women are married to Moslem men. Most unfortunately, these women live in neither the margin nor the core of their Christian/Muslim affiliation. They are unable to be involved either in religious Islamic or Christian practices.
  11. The relationship between Christians and Moslems in Gaza is outstanding. They live together sharing all domains of life. They live in the same neighborhood, intermingle in similar schools, and exchange visits in social and religious occasions. Christians have the full liberty to practice their religion and Moslems participate in their activities like festivals, feasts, or processions. In Christmas, a well decorated and lightened Christmas tree stands high in the main square in Gaza. As Christians, Moslems are invited  to attend the Christmas procession in the streets of Gaza where considerable number of officials participate in the celebrations.
  12. The late President Arafat used to address the Christian community in its religious occasions and pays visits to their churches.
  13.  As for the fundamentalist group who are highly vibrant in Gaza, Christians are never their target. Their attacks are directed exclusively against the occupation.
  14. During the Intifada, some Christians fell as martyrs  
  15. The Christian families in Gaza are neither significantly rich nor considerably poor. Most of them have jobs, and they are the owners of their own houses.
  16. The maximum average of children in Christian family is six
  17. The percentage of working women is 40%
  18. The percentage of educated women is 15%
  19.  Number of students attending universities is fifty four
  20. Number of doctors  is thirty
  21. Number of engineers is twenty-one.
  22. Christians own almost one hundred shops
  23. Christians own two gas stations
  24.  In the Parliament of Gaza there is one Christian
  25. In the President's Office in Gaza there are two Christians
  26. There is a Christian women judge in Gaza
  27. Twenty percent of  Christians in Gaza practice their faith on Sundays
  28. The Christian students are distributed on governmental schools, the UNRWA schools, or the private schools. They are highly esteemed, appreciated, and respected. They follow up their studies in the Universities of Gaza and their preference is geared towards the Islamic University. Due to the political conditions and the closure imposed on Gaza Strip, students are fully incapable to attend the West Bank Universities.
  29. The relationship between the Catholics, Greeks, and Protestants is distinctive.  
  30. Since marriage between Christians and Moslems is relatively forbidden and rare, some of Christians convert to Islam in order to get married. However, marriages between Catholics and Greeks are very normal and occur without difficulties.
  31. Conversion from Islam to Christianity is forbidden
  32. The Christian houses are intermingled with the Moslem houses. Christians and Moslems have distinctive relationships: They exchange trade and social relationships.
  33. In Christmas, many families call for Santa Claus for presents
  34. We teach the Koran in our schools and in the schools of the government, we teach Christian religion.
  35. Christians and Moslems living in Gaza are the best example to the true meaning of goodwill, affinity, and solidarity.

Gaza 9.1.2005


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