In considering what would be the most appropriate way to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Lieutenancy in 2011, providence in the person of Comdt. Frank Hearns came up with the solution, children, the future of the Holy Land!
In 1905, an Orphanage and crèche for abandoned children was founded by the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and. The place became a home for these children and a shelter for mothers in crisis and it is called Holy Family Children’s Home. The mission of the nuns is to fight for the right to life of children, to guarantee a safe shelter and safe delivery for the babies and mothers.
The age of the target group in the Holy Family Children’s Home is from 0- 6 years. The children are welcomed into the Home regardless of their religion, race or background. They are a gift from the Lord. Who can reject such a gift?
As a result of this fact women who managed to conceal their pregnancy had to abandon the child, many other women lost their lives while trying to get rid of the baby, others were not lucky enough to conceal it and they were killed with their infants by their families.
Many children are born with malformations and retardations because of the lack of good prenatal care and poor conditions surrounding the deliveries. As a result of the increasing social problems, the Home expanded its services to receive children who live in crises, children from broken families, divorced parents, drug addicts, etc.
The children have a boarding section well arranged to meet the needs of lives. The home is divided into rooms according to their age group. The Crèche is an address for children who live in danger, who are victims of domestic violence and violence in general.
The children from outside the Crèche receive lunch with our children every day from Monday until Saturday. It has four teachers working with the children in the kindergarten, beside the supervisor and the trainer. It implements its program under the supervision of Bethlehem University Education Faculty. A paediatrician, a child psychologist, and a social worker add their professional expertise, guiding the development of each child.
The number of children is increasing, and cases of abandoned children are even harsher than before. The level of violence and irresponsibility is higher in the area. Those most affected are the children and women.
All of us are aware of the need. The present situation and the future are vague and unpredictable. Violence is increasing and ignorance is one of the predominant causes of the present general situation.
Chev. Frank Hearns who turned 70 years old during his 2011 tour was on the roads of Europe for a month starting from the Carmel of St. Joseph of Malahide. He cycled from Malahide, accompanied by a friend, Blaise O’Rourke to Bethlehem commencing on 5 June and concluded in Bethlehem on Monday 4 July. They covered 3,200 kms in 30 days over 6 countries. They had to change one tyre which resulted in a wheel being given free. They first crossed the Channel by boat to France, then travelled the roads of Italy and Greece before flying to Tel Aviv. They then resumed traveling on bicycles to Bethlehem. They were welcomed by Sister Sophie Boueri, then Director of the Holy Family Children’s Home, who received €110,000 from Frank in donations collected from the Irish Dames, Knights and friends.
“Everywhere, we were met with exceptional hospitality and kindness in the countries we visited, and there are many stories to tell,” said Frank, “a Greek who, seeing my T-shirt in the colors of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre offered me hospitality for the night.”
The event had been carefully prepared, while leaving much to improvisation and surprises along the route. It was an experience like a real pilgrimage by the Irish Knights, marked by daily prayer and Sunday Mass as food on the long road to the Holy Land.
On his arrival in Jerusalem, Bishop William Shomali, then Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem warmly welcomed him expressing friendship and recognition of the local Church saying “The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre is a great help for our community. Its members are generous with their ongoing support and evangelisation, may it continue along this path.”
“The journey is often more important than the goal in itself ,” said Frank, “and with all my heart I sincerely thank those who helped me make this pilgrimage possible.”
The most recent visit to the Orphanage was in November 2019 when the Lieutenancy made a donation to the help the running of the Orphanage. In all over €250k has been donated in recent years.