George and Najwa Saadeh light a votive candle in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. (photo: Nadim Asfour)
CNEWA’s presence in the Holy Land, particularly what are known today as Palestine and Israel, dates to its earliest days. But it was the first visit by a pope to the lands of Jesus, writes our former regional director in Jerusalem, Sami El-Yousef, that set the present course of CNEWA in its service to the church of Jerusalem.
“In 1964, Pope Paul VI visited the Holy Land and called for new Christian efforts to provide services to the community at large. And he urged CNEWA to coordinate worldwide Catholic aid so as to provide services in education and health and social services.”
The Saadeh family — who shared with us here their story of loss and hope — are just a few of the many local Christians who have brought to life these efforts of Blessed Paul VI life. “It is our pride that the schools where all members of the Saadeh family were educated or currently work were part of our support through the years. These institutions are the backbone of our Christian presence and the pride of the church.”
It is impossible to overstate the importance of schools such as Terre Sancta and Bethlehem University and social service works such as the Paul VI Ephpheta Institute for the Deaf.
As Mr. El-Yousef puts it: “It is in these institutions where faith is strengthened, and where a value set is instilled that encourages reconciliation, forgiveness and love. These are values that have clearly helped the Saadeh family cope with their tragedy and made them a model to be followed in our troubled societies.”
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