BEIT SAHOUR - a big number of faithful gathered on Sunday, June 21, 2020, at Our Lady of Fatima church, to welcome H.E. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, during a pastoral visit to the parish.
People happily headed to the church, wearing masks, as they were not able to pray at the church for the past three months, due to restrictions imposed because of the spread of Coronavirus in Bethlehem, yet, a month ago, Fr. Issa Hijazen was able to coordinate with the faithful to pray at the church during different days and hours, after the restrictions were relaxed.
The Mass was presided by the Apostolic Administrator, and concelebrated with Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine; Fr. Issa Hijazeen, the parish priest; Fr. Ibrahim Shomali, Fr. Elias Tabban, and Fr. Mamdouh Abu Saada, in the presence of a good number of parishioners, Rosary Sisters, and the scouts who organized the Mass and the entry of the faithful to the church, as they distributed face masks and hands sanitizers, and made sure people were seated distanced from each other.
In his homily, Archbishop Pizzaballa expressed his feelings of happiness to be among the Beit Sahour parishioners. He commented on the Sunday gospel and asked people to listen to God’s voice and plan that He has for them, and asked them to be courageous.
At the end of the Mass, Archbishop Pizzaballa headed to the parish hall with the faithful, preceded by the scout’s group. The parishioners were able to express their worries and concerns regarding the overall situation due to closures because of the outbreak of COVID-19 in the area. They also talked about the deteriorating economical situation in the Bethlehem area as it significantly depends on tourism.