CREMISAN/BEIT JALA – On Sunday, May 28, 2017, the Parish of Beit Jala organized the traditional Pentecost procession between Cremisan and Beit Jala. Despite the continuing construction of the wall, the event, presided over by Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar, brought together a large number of lay faithful and religious.
The procession this year was still possible! The separation wall, against which Christians of the area have battled in recent years, has come to the edge of the road but has not crossed it. The tradition has so far been able to continue.
At Cremisan, the procession that takes place every year between Ascension and Pentecost is always held at the end of May, the month in which the Virgin Mary is honored.
The tradition has it origins in the procession that the Salesian Seminary organized on the Mount of Cremisan on the Sunday that fell between May 24, the Feast of Mary Help of Christians, and May 31, the Feast of the Visitation, located at Ain Karem just beyond the Mount of Cremisan.
In 1996, in memory of the Diocesan Pastoral Synod of the Holy Land that took place the year before at the Patriarchal Seminary in Beit Jala, and to resume the tradition of the Salesians’ procession which had fallen into disuse, the idea arose to offer this pilgrimage to the youth. The painful question of the separation wall – which remains a disaster for the farmers in the Cremisan Valley – did nothing but nurture a tradition that has now become a way to resist, and to entrust to Mary the faithful of the area.
On Sunday, May 28, 2017, the Parish Priest, Fr. Aktham Al Hijazin, and Father Johny Bahbah, his assistant, were able to organize this gather of the faithful, together with the seminarians of the Latin Patriarchal Seminary, the Scouts and the Rosary Sisters of Beit Jala. They invited Bishop Marcuzzo to lead the procession and were delighted to welcome Nicola Khamis, the new Mayor of Beit Jala.
Following a vintage model 1956 Morris Oxford automobile that belong to the Bassem Zreineh family who use it principally for this annual event, and on which the statue of the Blessed Virgin was positioned, the faithful little by little joined in the procession as it moved along to the rhythm of the songs and the recitation of the Rosary.
Leaving from the courtyard of the Salesian House of Cremisan, the procession crossed the valley that offers a luminous and relaxing landscape, to arrive in the courtyard of the Seminary in Beit Jala.
Here the faithful assisted at the Liturgy of the Word and listened to a short lesson by Bishop Marcuzzo. This year the Bishop invited those present to reflect on the questions: “How can one be guided by the Holy Spirit, following the example of Mary of Nazareth?” In response, he articulated his reflection outlining some suggestions for those assembled to negotiate: to follow a formed conscience, to listen to the Word explained by the Church, to fulfill the duties of one’s state, to perceive and understand the “signs of the times” and to interpret ad majorem Dei gloriam the circumstances of each one’s life.
Text by M.C.
Photos by C.Q.