RAMALLAH – From May 5th to May 8th, His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, made a pastoral visit to the parish of Ramallah, after having previously visited the parishes of Til’Al’Ali (Jordan) and Bethlehem.
“Ramallah is a reference point for many parishes in the region. What you are setting up here serves as an example to many. You must always strive to be a leading parish and community.”
Such was the main message of the Patriarch during this pastoral visit, which included, in addition to Eucharistic celebrations, visits to Christian families, schools, places and institutions as well as meetings with various Christian personalities. Opening with the administration of the first Communion and the sacrament of Confirmation to children of the parish, it allowed Mgr Pizzaballa to immerse himself in the life of the parish and to become concretely aware of the realities characterizing the Christian life of Ramallah.
Following the first communions and confirmations on Friday evening, the Patriarch took the time to meet with the staff of the Latin Patriarchate schools in Palestine (LPSP), whose director is Fr. Yacoub Rafidi, also the parish priest in Ramallah. They were thus able to present to him their ideas for the future of the schools and the challenges they face, while Mgr Pizzaballa shared his own vision, particularly with regard to Christian formation, for these establishments, which are essential if one wants to preserve the Christian character of the country.
The visit was also the occasion for the Patriarch to meet Mr. Issa Kassis, mayor of Ramallah, who expressed his willingness to deepen the collaboration between the municipality of the city and the Church, especially with regard to possible Palestinian Christian cultural projects. Members of the parish council also stressed the importance of this kind of initiatives, recalling their desire to increase the visibility of Christians in the Holy Land, not only locally but also abroad.
With the staff of the LPSP
Since an “encounter can change a life” (Pope Francis), Fr. Yacoub had also organized for the occasion various dinners with parishioners and prominent Christian figures of the city, who were able to discuss with the Patriarch the various issues Christians must face, such as the lack of space to grow and develop or the diaspora of a part of the Christian population, but also the initiatives that have so far been implemented, and their ideas for future projects. The Patriarch also went, on Sunday afternoon, to Qubeibeh, to visit first the nursing home ran by the German association in the Holy Land and served by Salvatorian Sisters, and then the Franciscan church. Highlighting the need to increase the number of Christian elderly homes, especially in the region of Jerusalem, Mgr Pizzaballa also visited the elderly home of Ramallah, managed by the Arab Women's Union Society. He met as well the Sisters of Saint Joseph, who run a school in Ramallah, the Rosary Sisters who serve the parish, and several Christian families with a sick or elderly member.
Meeting with major Christian figures of the city
As mentioned above, the visit was also enlightened by Masses celebrated in the parish, during which several actively involved parishioners were praised, scout leaders renewed their promise, and a little baby girl as well as new altar servers were blessed. “Show me how you pray, I’ll tell you what you believe,” addressed the Patriarch during one of his homilies, reminding everyone of the foundation of Christian identity, namely faith, and urging Ramallah parishioners to always be pro-active, to keep their community alive, and to be a beacon for those around them, in order to offer a true witness of faith and communion to their city and to the Holy Land.