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JERUSALEM – H.E. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa celebrated this Sunday, February 4, 2018, the memorial of St. Simeon and St. Anne at the Jerusalem Kehilla. It was an occasion for the Archbishop to once again meet the small Hebrew-speaking Catholic community; a community of which he was in charge before becoming Custos of the Holy Land and subsequently Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

A patronal feast marked by the assembly

Each year, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is a festive time at the Parish of Saint Simeon-Saint Anne. These two saints, one, just and religious, the other, a widow and prophetess, welcomed Jesus, while His parents presented Him in the Temple, as the Savior Messiah, the blessed hope, and redemption of Israel. For the Hebrew-speaking Catholic community that lives in the heart of Israeli society, Simeon and Anna exemplify the fidelity of Israel that awaits salvation for so many generations.

This year, the priest in charge of the parish, Father Rafic Nahra, invited Archbishop Pizzaballa to come and share this time of celebration and preside at the Sunday Mass. For the Apostolic Administrator it was a kind of homecoming for, during his extensive studies of the Hebrew language, the young Father Pizzaballa attended and took charge of the small Hebrew-speaking Catholic community in Jerusalem. Subsequently, Archbishop Pizzaballa, while he was Custos of the Holy Land, was assigned the Vicariate St. James overall. After Mass, the parishioners of the Kehilla could therefore very easily exchange with the Archbishop, and especially on the worrying issue of the future of migrants.

A parish where opening to the other is its slogan

The Jerusalem Kehilla Catholic faithful includes families from Asia or Africa that came to find work in Israel. And today the children of these families, settled for several years, have Hebrew as their mother tongue. But this atypical parish also includes some Europeans: religious who come to the meeting of the Jewish people and who are happy to share their faith in Hebrew or people who have moved to Jerusalem to join with an Israeli spouse.

If the community is not numerically impressive, it is rich in a desire to be open to one another, whether within its community membership or in the world around it. This openness is mainly with the Jewish community of Kehilat Zion with which the Catholic Hebrew-speaking community of Jerusalem studies once a month the Word and the tradition of each religion and has opened a used clothing storage room for families in need, regardless of religious confession and environment.

A beautiful way to shine the light of Christ, before Whom the aged-Simeon first marveled.

Cecile Klos


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