Blessing from the Holy City of Bethlehem.
Am Fra Rami Asakrieh , parish priest of Latin parish of the Bethlehem .
With this letter I have the pleasure to present you with a short presentation of our mission as Franciscan Brothers of Saint Francis of Assisi at the Parish of St. Catherine at the Shrine of the Nativity of our Lord.
St. Catherine’s Parish of Bethlehem has 1,479 Christian Palestinian families and among the manifold activities carried on today at this Parish are to be enumerated especially: the Third Order of St. Francis, Legio Mariae, the Pious Union of Christian Mothers, the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin, the Antonian Charitable Society, Terra Sancta Boy Scouts, St. Joseph Girl Scouts, and the Catholic Action Club for the activities of the Parish.
Due to the bitter circumstances in the Holy Land, several hundred of the Christians of Bethlehem have left the country and immigrated abroad, looking for peace and seeking a better future for their families. Therefore, our goal at St. Catherine’s Parish is to reduce the immigration as much as we can by giving them hope through direct assistance in many areas of need, and to provide means for the global community and Christians worldwide to encourage them to remain in the Holy Land as living stones and real witnesses of The Lord Jesus Christ.
In Bethlehem, the social situation is a constant emergency. Due to the separation wall, its inhabitants live in a condition of quasi-confinement, restricted freedom of movement, which gives rise to an irritable atmosphere of social tension. Since the beginning of the construction of the separation wall, Bethlehem residents have been forbidden to enter Jerusalem, unless in possession of a special permit. This phenomenon has progressively increased unemployment and poverty rates and the collapse of the local economy and labor market has led to the reduction of the monthly income of many workers to the point that nowadays many families have little or no enough income and cannot provide many needs of their children. In Bethlehem, economic life is at rock bottom, unemployment skies high and medical care is extremely difficult: this situation of crisis mostly affects the weakest members of the society, especially children, elderly and poor families.
As the Palestinian Authority is unable to provide enough medical services, does not offer enough financial allocations for elderly and needy and does not offer any program of support for poor students, the assistance provided by the Parish to the Bethlehem community comes to be essential. As a matter of fact, through his effort, the Franciscan parish office provides economical and financial support for hospitalization, medical assistance, laboratory analysis, surgery, and chronicle diseases treatments, fulfilling almost the whole amount or a partial amount of the expenses bared by the patients depending on the family financial condition.
Thank you for showing your compassion and passionate support to the people of Bethlehem.
The star in Bethlehem that guided the wise men to the birthplace of the Holy Child more than 2000 years ago, still indicates us the path toward the place of our roots. In this difficult time for all Christians of the Middle East, in our prayers at the Holy Grotto of the Nativity, we always remember our friends that came to visit us and support or mission to keep alive the light of Christianity here were everything Started ! we invite all of you to come and to visit us and fulfill your spirit with the blessings and graces of this Holy land.
From the place where God manifest in a child, I send you my warmest regards of peace and goodness in the Spirit of Saint Francis.
Fr. Rami Asakrieh, O.F.M.
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