GAZA – On  Sunday, December 18, 2016, a delegation from the Latin Patriarchate went to Gaza to celebrate an early Christmas Mass with the local Christians.  It was a time  of  joyful celebration, and also the opportunity to inaugurate different development projects within the parish which were completed this year.

As usual, a few days before Christmas, a delegation from the Latin Patriarchate came to celebrate the Mass of the Nativity of Christ with the faithful of the Holy Family parish in Gaza. This year, Mass was presided by Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel  with Fr. Imad Twal, General Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate; Fr. Mario da Silva, parish priest and Fr. Gabriel Romanelli, of the Institute of the Incarnate Word.

Christians, Catholic and Orthodox  came in large numbers for this occasion, many were young people and children, offering the testimony of a living faith.  As always, the Scout troop welcomed the Bishop to the sound of trumpets and drums. After Mass, a living Nativity was presented by the children of the parish. Music performance and costumes were displayed and seen by all for a few minutes, although they had long hours of preparation  and choreographed with love by the Missionary Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of the Incarnate Word who work together with the children of Gaza, especially in the kindergarten, school and home for the handicapped, all three adjacent to  the parish. In one of the “peripheries” of the world, the Sisters patiently and lovingly take care of those who remained in Gaza and strive tirelessly to rebuild the future with the poorest and the least.

This celebration was an occasion to give thanks for the past year, despite the desolate situation in the Gaza Strip where poverty, unemployment and the successive wars seem to bury any hope of a bright future.  Along with Father Mario and the Sisters, the faithful find much more than a parish or a shelter, all form a single family. “Every year we ask God for the gift of peace, today we are afraid but we do not despair. Some speak of another war to come, so many things frighten us, but this Christmas, we ask God to give us the grace of peace, “says Father Mario, the parish priest.  With the lighthearted joy of the children, are a few glimmers of hope and restoration.  “Several  projects have been carried out here by the Latin Patriarchate and we are very grateful … We now have electricity thanks to the solar panels”, says Fr. Mario.

The parish and the complex around it have undergone numerous works of restoration and development in 2016.  Five projects were inaugurated:  the parish priest house and offices; the community service hall and offices; the rehabilitation of Latin school in El Zeiton, including the newly installed solar panels; safety and security boundary wall for the parish. The foundation stone for the Church rehabilitation project was also blessed, the building has numerous problems with moisture which threaten the entire structure.  These various projects were completed with the support of the Equestrian Order (Knights) of the Holy Sepulcher, the Pontifical Mission, Manos Unidas (Spain), Governments of Portugal and Poland, and the French Association Œuvre d’Orient.

Myriam Ambroselli

Pictures : © LPJ / Vivien Laguette

Celebration of Christmas in Gaza parish

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Blessing and inauguration of the projects of Gaza parish

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