Decorating the Great Dome
The heads of the three Christian bodies responsible for the care of the major Christian holy places in the Holy Land – the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land and the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch – have approved a design for the decoration of the great dome of the rotunda of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
“This is a historic day,” remarked Diodoros I, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, following the 17 August Meeting. It marked the first occasion the three leaders agreed to a joint activity since the Turkish decree of 1852 guaranteed the Status Quo of 1757.
The accepted design depicts 12 radiant streams of gold on a pearly white background. The rays represent the Apostles while the background tones evoke the luminous cloud of the glory of God as described in the Bible.
Christmas in the Holy Land
Continuing a long-standing tradition, Msgr. Stern concelebrated the Christmas liturgies with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Michel Sabbah. The festivities culminated with Midnight Mass in Bethlehem, which Msgr. Stern offered for the intentions of all our benefactors.
While in the Gaza Strip, Msgr. Stern met with Yasser Arafat. President of the Palestinian Authority, and briefed the Palestinian leader about the work of the Pontifical Mission.
President Arafat expressed his gratitude and told the Monsignor of his recent decision to declare both the Latin and Orthodox feasts of Christmas as Palestinian national holidays.
Update: Smakieh, Jordan
As the next step in the development of the village of Smakieh, our Amman office has proceeded with the creation of a breeder farm. Complete with fencing and olive trees and a partially built house, the farm will serve as an ideal breeder facility. Soon, high quality sheep and goats will be purchased and a barn erected. This will permit the stock to be cross-bred, which will improve the quality of milk and wool.
Financed by the German Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre, the farm will expand the village’s cooperative, will employ two villagers and will be self-sufficient.
News from Bethlehem University
Bethlehem University inaugurated a new international Board of Trustees at a meeting in Rome on 23 January. The new board elected Msgr. Stern as chairperson for a term of three years.
Bethlehem University, which was founded by the Congregation for the Eastern Churches and the Brothers of the Christian Schools in response to the expressed desire of Pope Paul VI for an institute of higher education in the Holy Land, is directed by the Brothers and has an enrollment of nearly 2,000 students, 30 percent of whom are Christian.
25 Priests in One Family
“I have always had a high regard for the priesthood,” said Mr. Tom Brenna, a good friend of our Association, during a recent phone conversation.
“And I thought, ’Wouldn’t it be great if I could sponsor a few?’”
Recently Mr. Brenna completed sponsoring his 25th seminarian through CNEWA’s Seminarian Sponsorship Program.
“It has given me such pleasure to watch these young men grow, to receive their photos, to read their letters.
“I have not done this for self-aggrandizement.” he continued. “God has just been very good to me.”
Thank you, Mr. Brenna, for your generosity.
Cardinal Receives Egypts Grand Mufti
The leader of Egypt’s Sunni Muslim community, Dr. Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, visited John Cardinal O’Connor in New Fork on 8 January.
During the meeting, the Cardinal expressed his gratitude to the Grand Mufti for his anti-abortion position, which concurred with that of the Catholic Church, during the Cairo Conference on population.
The Muslin leader, who visited the United States on a goodwill tour, invited Cardinal O’Connor to visit him again in Cairo.
A Letter from Ukraine
In early January, we received a thank-you letter from the Rev. Michael Khrypa, C.Ss.R., pastor of a small Greek Catholic parish in Vinnitsa, Ukraine. Father Khrypa received a CNEWA grant to help build a church. Until now the parish was using a converted railroad car.
“We thank you most sincerely [for your gift]….” the priest wrote.
“We lack words to thank you adequately, except to tell you that every Sunday, before Mass, we say the rosary for our benefactors.”
The church, which will accommodate 600 people, is the first to be built in eastern Ukraine in 215 years.