ISRAEL – Looking after the Hebrew-speaking Catholics, who are scattered all over the Holy Land, the Saint James Vicariate tries to be more present in the virtual world to be able to reach them all.
Besides the webpage of the Vicariate, which is available in different languages, the Vicariate also has its own app, Daily Gospel in Hebrew. It allows users to receive the daily readings of the Gospel in Hebrew, according to the liturgical calendar, and is available both for Android and Apple/IOS.
Its YouTube channel also offers every Sunday, among other contents, a short lesson about the reading of the Sunday Gospel, according to the liturgical calendar. Each lesson is prepared in Hebrew by the priests of the Vicariate.
Thanks to a collaboration with both institutions and individuals, the Vatican News website is now also available in Hebrew. There can be found the main news from the Vatican, the Pope's Angelus Prayer, Wednesday's Audience, and information about the Holy See and the Universal Church. Local news from the Holy Land can also be viewed in Hebrew thanks to the Christian Media Center.
Fr. Piotr Zelazko, Patriarchal Vicar of St. James, explains: "Our faithful live in many places scattered all over Israel. Often, due to the distance, they have no possibility to participate in the pastoral activities organized by the priests in our various communities. Our presence in the virtual world and on social media is a response to the needs of our parishioners. We even have Zoom lessons, prepared both by priests and lay people, during which we study biblical and theological topics. And we are thinking about having our own podcast; our youth groups have already started to prepare some content. Our dream is a systematic lecture of Catholic theology according to catechism and some apologetical content on YouTube. As Pope Francis said," the vicar pursues, "the ends of the earth... are quite relative and always easily ‘navigable’. The digital world – the social networks that are so pervasive and readily available – dissolves borders, eliminates distances, and reduces differences. Through these different platforms, we hope to reach more people interested in the Good News of the Gospel, although we cannot forget that even the countless virtual contacts will never substitute an authentic sharing, in a genuine communion of life. True Love in the Way of Sacraments is possible only if we really meet to share the Bread of Life. Which is why, even if we offer from time to time the live online transmission of the Eucharist, we remind everyone that this is a solution only for those who, for various reasons, are physically unable to participate together with their communities. The digital means must help us grow in spirituality, not substitute it. In the end, there is no virtual prayer, no virtual life, no virtual death. Some things you need to live truly."