JERUSALEM - On Saturday, June 18th, 2022, on the grounds of St. Anne Church in Jerusalem, nearly forty religious communities gathered to welcome, during the afternoon, families and tourists in a joyful and friendly atmosphere.
Thousands of people joined the one hundred and fifty religious and volunteers mobilized for the smooth running of this Day of Friendship in Saint Anne. Coming from all over the world and from the Holy Land, they all offered a radiant face, the most beautiful of testimonies - as the participants agreed at the end of the day, after the Vespers service presided over by Mgr William Shomali, General Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate.
During this synodal year, the religious communities of the Holy Land were happy to meet each other. These reunions, often touching, motivated many to participate in this day, including lay volunteers, who came to Jerusalem especially for the occasion - such as the Mariam Baouardy Group, composed of Melchite Catholics from Galilee and led by Br. Abiel, who has been hosted at the Abraham House.
From 8:00 am, they helped the other volunteers to set up the place, and then surprised everyone by preparing a delicious meal in the open air. Very touched by this delicate attention, everyone thanked them warmly and the emotion was even greater when one of the youths of the Mariam Baouardy Group spoke, just before the opening of the doors: "We all feel very great joy and pride today by helping you. Sharing this moment with you, seeing you all so kind and smiling, helps us to love Jesus even more."
At 2:00 pm, Mr. Jospeh Hazboun, Director of the Pontifical Mission in the Holy Land, came to greet the initiative, after having given it his full support, as he did for the first edition last year. Mr. René Troccaz, Consul General of France, accompanied by Fr. Luc Pareydt, also honored the event with his presence, joined by Mr. Wilfried Pfeffer, Consul of Belgium.
H.E. Mr. Eric Danon, Ambassador of France to Israel, attended the event in a friendly capacity, as did Mr. Sven Kühn Von Burgsdorff, Representative of the European Union in the Palestinian Territories, and many members of the diplomatic corps.
Between a few groups of tourists, happy to benefit from this opportunity, many visitors came in all afternoon, discovering, amazed, not only a monastic craft of very high quality, but also communities invested locally in education and services to people, especially the most fragile ones.
If the guided tours offered by the White Fathers that day attracted many visitors, the moments of meditation and prayer also had many of them stay, sometimes to their great surprise - as they revealed in a friendly way to the volunteers present on site. Choirs and workshops left beautiful memories for all, especially for the children who decorated candles with Sister Marie-Madeleine, while the more daring ones initiated themselves to painting on ceramics under the benevolent gaze of one of the Sisters of Bethlehem.
The friendly presence of Fr. Dayroyo Boulos Khano from the Syrian Orthodox Monastery of St. Mark (Jerusalem - Old City) was also a great success. In front of an audience fascinated by the reliability of his gesture, he wrote in Aramaic on parchments that were then distributed on-demand. In the audience, members of other Churches and other religions greeted the exhibitors in a friendly manner, making this day a truly fraternal meeting in the heart of the thrice-holy city.