On May 2, 2023, His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, visited the construction site of the pastoral center of the Latin Patriarchate in Haifa. For the past two years he has been expressing his desire to revive the Patriarchate's buildings located in this city, in order to better serve the church in Galilee. In addition to the creation of a pastoral center for youth and family issues to meet their spiritual and economic needs in these difficult times, the renovation plan also includes a space for the Patriarchal Vicar of Israel, in addition to the vicariate of Nazareth.
Since Fr. Johnny Abu Khalil was appointed director of this pastoral center, and in order to serve as a residence for the priests, much of the buildings have already been renovated. About a month ago, renovations began on the building that will serve as the pastoral center, reserved for youth on the first floor and for families on the second floor, where priests will serve the faithful with the help of specialists in family affairs. The third and last floor will house the patriarchal offices in Haifa.
Upon completion, the Latin Patriarchate also plans to renovate a guest house for pilgrims, which will provide a source of income to support the expenses of the pastoral center. It will include 32 rooms and will accommodate up to 64 individuals. "We hope to begin construction as early as the beginning of 2024," said Fr. Johnny. "We also plan to restore a third building next to the guest house, which will serve as a restaurant for pilgrims and will also be a place of communion, meeting and socialization for our parishioners, who today do not have such a place," he added, while explaining that "the due date has not yet been set, as it can only be determined when the project work begins next year.”
The pastoral purpose behind this project is of paramount importance, as it will help to nurture the faith of the faithful and rekindle the spirit of community and family within the church in Galilee, while providing a space for pilgrims who continually seek to meet and support the "living stones" of the Holy Land.
"The cost of this renovation project, which has attracted the interest of the various Churches in Galilee and our parishioners, is very high," continued Fr. Johnny. "Its completion also depends on the support received, and we present our deepest gratitude to all our brothers and sisters who have provided the necessary funds for it. We hope that it will be finished as soon as possible so that we can quickly begin a renewed pastoral work in Haifa, the city of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, to whom we have entrusted this project for her protection and intercession."
During his visit, His Beatitude once again stressed the importance of this project, which will be a great resource for the Church in the Holy Land and will strengthen the presence of God among the faithful.