Project: Al-Salt Latin Parish, Jordan
Al-Salt Latin Parish, Jordan
Together with the Lieutenancy of Monaco, the Lieutenancy of Ireland shall finance the renovation of the Priest’s House, Salt.
The Irish contribution will be €45,000 of a total of €64,000.
Salt is an ancient agricultural town and administrative center in west-central Jordan.
The priest’s house is part of the Salt convent complex. It’s one of the oldest structures in the area and has been neglected for decades.
The house requires a swift and effective intervention to bring it back to healthy living standards as it is currently deemed unfit for human habitation.
The project will include demolishing the old partitions, toilets and kitchen and building new ones with brand new aluminium windows
The direct beneficiaries of the project are the parish priest who will be able to live in a proper space with improved living conditions for his coming years of service in the parish, and the future parish priests who will serve in Salt.
Project: Aqaba Parish - Our Lady "Stella Maris" Church, Jordan
Aqaba Parish - Our Lady "Stella Maris" Church, Jordan
Aqaba is located on the Red Sea in the far south of Jordan. The parish was founded in 1982 when the church’s liturgies and prayers took place in a hall. Construction of the present church began in 2010.
It was consecrated by His Beatitude, Patriarch Fouad Twal in 2012, and is one of the most beautiful churches in Jordan. It is circular in shape with a dome in the shape of a star, a reflection of the Church’s name, “Stella Maris”.
The Latin parish consists of approximately 100 families. The Rosary Sisters run a mixed High School, which has about 1,000 pupils, thus increasing the importance of the Christian presence in the city.
The Lieutenancy of Ireland generously donated the sum of €130,000 towards the cost of the construction of the Church.
Project: St Paul Latin Parish Church, Ajloun, Jordan
St Paul Latin Parish Church, Ajloun, Jordan
Ajloun is located 73km north of Amman, in Jordan. It is a fairly prosperous town whose inhabitants are mainly occupied in professional, business, military and governmental work. There are many Christians living here. Outside the town the land is mainly agricultural, with olive trees being the predominant feature.
In 2013, the Lieutenancy of Ireland generously donated the sum of €29,940 towards the cost of roof insulation, painting and electrical installation works.
Infrastructures of the Latin Patriarchate: The school, in the middle of the town, was established in 1889 in two small rooms of a house. The first permanent building had three rooms. More classrooms were built in 1967, two rooms in the priest’s house were used for the Kindergarten. In 1970, the main school of eight classrooms was built, followed in 1995 by school offices next to the church. In 2005, a multipurpose hall was constructed behind the church and school, a very useful play area with shade in the summer and shelter in the winter, and on the ground floor a good sized science laboratory has recently been developed. After grade 8, the pupils have to go to either private or governmental schools.
Project: Naour Sacred Heart Church and School, Jordan
Naour Sacred Heart Church and School, Jordan
Naour is a small town in the southwest district of Amman, Jordan. Built in 1954, the school and the playground were dilapidated and especially too small to accommodate the growing number of schoolchildren. This is why the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem deemed it necessary to enlarge and renovate the premises, which had only eight classrooms.
A second floor was built for the 9th and 10th grades (15 and 16 year olds). It also included a teachers’ room, a science laboratory and a well-stocked library.
The Lieutenancy of Ireland, since 2007, has donated approximately €235,000 towards the cost of construction and equipment. In this way, the school will be able to respond to the strong demand from families and recruit new teachers to teach classes for these new classes in order to prepare young people for baccalaureate and university entrance. Indeed, this Christian school held by the Patriarchate is very popular. It welcomes children without distinction of confession or social class, with low tuition fees.
As Fr. Ashraf al Nimri, Director of Schools in Jordan, said: “It’s wonderful! We were able to welcome new students. Parents, teachers and children are delighted. They hope for an even bigger extension in the future.
Project: Bir Zeit
Bir Zeit is a Palestinian Christian town, situated in the central West Bank of the Occupied Territories, 7 km north of Ramallah.
In 2021, The Lieutenancy of Ireland funded rehabilitation works of the Immaculate Convent Parish School Hall, converting the hall (auditorium style) to a flat multi-purpose hall, for the benefit and use by Birzeit’s children, youth, students and elderly to host activities that aim to serve the community at large.
The project was completed in May 2021, at a cost of €21,700, and involved different electrical, technical and mechanical works to be operational and functional.
The major beneficiaries fall into two categories: firstly, 400 school students and their teachers will be able to undertake school-related activities like ceremonies, community gatherings and lectures in the hall.
The second are the 1,500 parishioners, including youth, active members of church communities and societies, elderly people and scout troops who will directly benefit from the newly rehabilitated hall, which will provide a safe and welcoming environment to conduct all activities, gatherings and meetings.
Fr Louis Hazboun is the Parish Priest of Bir Zeit.
Project: Classroom extension, Mafraq, Jordan
Classroom extension, Mafraq, Jordan
Mafraq is a town in the north Jordan, 20km from the Syrian border surrounded by Iraq, Syria and Saudia Arabia.
The Latin Parish of St Joseph was established, in 1949, with the arrival of the Rosary Sisters who commenced the building of a church, convent and school for boys. In 1959 classrooms were built for girls and a kindergarten was built in 1962.
A secondary school was further developed that contains classes until the 10th grade, after which students were required to leave and attend non-Christian governmental schools, where they did not study Christian education and may be exposed to conversion to other religions.
The Latin Patriarchate, as part of its pastoral and educational mission, sought assistance to finance the building of three classrooms, for the 11th & 12th grades, a teachers room and bathrooms which would enable students stay at St Jospehs and benefit from the teaching of Christian education and values.
The Lieutenancy of Ireland generously donated the sum of €64,895, which financed the building works.
In September 2022, pilgrims from the Lieutenancy were able to visit, meet with the Parish Priest, Fr Tareq Hijzin; School Principal, Teachers, Students and view the completed construction works.
Project: School upgrade, Safout, Jordan
School upgrade, Safout, Jordan
Safout is an urban area with a poor economic environment situated to the north west of Amman, Jordan. The Latin Patriarchate School of St Theresa of the Child Jesus was first established in 1935 and at that time it was a very simple construction providing a two-roomed dwelling for the priest at the side of a very small church. One of these rooms was used for the school. Three more classrooms were built later, in 1978.
In 1979, a new church was built alongside the house, which allowed the original church to become part of the school. This school is the smallest LPJ school, not only in Jordan, but also in all of the Holy Land.
In 2021 the Lieutenancy of Ireland donated €63,400 towards essential refurbishment work to the Latin Patriarchate School in Safout. The refurbishment works included improvements to administration office block and toilet facilities.
In September 2022, pilgrims from the Lieutenancy were able to visit and meet with the Parish Priest, Monsignor Aldo Tolotto; School Principal, Teachers and Students.
Project: Parish Youth Centre and Library upgrade at Jish/Gush Halav, Galilee
Parish Youth Centre and Library upgrade at Jish/Gush Halav, Galilee
Jish/Gush Halav is a village in north Gailiee, close to the Lebanese border, comprised predominantly of Maronite Catholic and Melkite Greek Catholic Christians (63%), with a Sunni Muslim Arab minority (about 35.7%).
In 2019, the Lieutenancy of Ireland funded the remodelling of a youth centre and a library part of St. Maroun Maronite Church at a cost of €31,000, where we met with Rev. Bechara Sleiman is Maronite Parish Priest of Birzeit and his congregation.
The major beneficiaries are school teachers and their students, members of the Jish Apolostic Movement, Jish Maronite Parish Council, parishioners and members of the wider Jish Community.
Project: St Mary’s Kindergarten, Bethany
St Mary’s Kindergarten, Bethany is part of the Convent of the Comboni Sisters founded in 1966. The Convent and Kindergarten, which hosts 48 children, are surrounded on three sides by the Israeli separation wall.
The Sisters are cut off from half of the population they serve by the Israeli barrier, a series of cement slabs, barbed wire fences and security roads snaking across part of the West Bank.
A small “door” was initially opened in the wall to allow the children of the kindergarten to be passed through to the convent, but that was eventually blocked, and parents on the other side of the wall needed to take two buses, stand in line at a checkpoint, then walk 30 minutes to get to the kindergarten. It became too arduous a journey, and parents sought alternative kindergartens for their children.
The wall and military towers loom above the convent on all three sides, including over the kindergarten playground, which has been covered by a fireproof roof because of the Molotov cocktails thrown over the wall by Palestinian demonstrators during clashes with Israeli soldiers. In 2019 the Lieutenancy of Ireland donated €xx,000 towards the cost of security and fire safety works to protect the children and staff.
Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ, Diocese of Raphoe, visiting the Convent and Kintergarten with other Bishops from the Holy Land Co-odination said he was aware of the difficulties of divided societies.
“Authentic Christians always are in relations with both sides, as are the Comboni Sisters here right up against the wall to maintain relations with both Palestinians and Israelis. This may not seem like anything, but this is respecting the human, respecting the good in both,” he said. “We need to stand for the good in the other, always in truth. We are bringing a complex message, yet this must be at the heart of it.”
Project: Church Roof Refurbishment - Bir Zeit Latin Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Church Roof Refurbishment - Bir Zeit Latin Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Birzeit is considered a traditional Christian village, its ruins date back to the Byzantine era and beyond, a part of the historically Christian region north of Jerusalem.
A recent survey revealed that the Church roof was not weather-tight, which resulted in water ingress to the church and damage to internal ceiling and wall structures. The cost of repair and refurbishment works, estimated to be €43,000, was funded by the generosity of the Lieutenancy of Ireland.
The main and direct Beneficiaries of the project are parishioners of Birzeit and Church visitors, who attend the church to pray and celebrate holy masses and liturgical events during the year.
Thanks to the Lieutenancy, the ancient building of Birzeit Church of the Immaculate Conception has been preserved and maintained for future generations.
Project: Iraqi Christian Refugees in Jordan
Iraqi Christian Refugees in Jordan. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has been providing financial and humanitarian support to Iraqi Christian Refugees in Jordan who have fled persecution in their homeland since 2014, initially by providing emergency accommodation in church premises, halls and caravans.
The most essential fields of support for the refugees are: first, the educational support – school fees for 1,100 students; transportation for 745 students; book fees for 1,100 students; uniform fees for 1,100 students; informal EDU for 300 students; life-skill training for 450 students.
Moreover, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem provided around 11,235 displaced Iraqi families with humanitarian support: cash money, food, clothes, shelter, water, medicine, hospital fees, transportation etc.
Project: Caritas Jerusalem - Gaza Donations
Caritas Jerusalem - Gaza Donations
Caritas Jerusalem, founded in 1967 in the aftermath of the Six Day War, is a humanitarian and development organisation that represents the socio-pastoral services of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land. It helps individuals from all religious backgrounds in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Caritas Jerusalem is a member of Caritias Internationalis, a confederation of 165 Cartias organisations operating in more than 200 countries.
Its mission is to empower the people of the Holy Land to realize their full potential, this giving a voice to the voiceless and hope and encouragement to the youth. It strives to achieve sustainable development and improvement in the health services, social welfare, food security and livelihoods, through advocacy, micro-credit loans, education, charity, emergency intervention and direct service provision.
Project: The Beit Afram Home for the Elderly, Taybeh
The Beit Afram Home for the Elderly, Taybeh was established in 2005, by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Its mission is to offer a healthy environment for the elderly through its assistance of healthcare.
The Home for the Elderly is managed by Institute Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, the female branch of the Institute of the Word. Today, it provides safe residential accommodation for 20 residents and employs 5 staff.
Taybeh is the only Christian village in Palestine with a 100% Christian population.
In 2022, the Lieutenancy of Ireland donated €57,302 towards the cost of life saving fire safety works at the Home.
Project: The Crèche of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul
The Crèche of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul is a refuge for abandoned children in Bethlehem. The sisters, who belong to the St. Vincent de Paul family of religious men and women, came to Bethlehem in 1884 with a mission to care for the poor, the sick and the marginalized. They founded a hospital and later, in 1905, set up an orphanage to house the babies abandoned on their doorstep. The Crèche has grown since, now offering shelter to expectant mothers and a home for children.
At the Crèche, the mission of the sisters and their team is to serve the most vulnerable children and mothers in Palestine.
Sister Denise Abu Haider, who serves the sisters in Bethlehem as their superior and directs the Crèche, hails from Batroun in northern Lebanon. Her role requires confronting many challenges in this deeply patriarchal society, but her belief in her mission and her steadfast faith provide her with the strength she needs.
“Faith plays a major role, faith in Jesus and God in the faces of those who come here,” she says of her community’s commitment. We celebrate Christ every day and the birth of the Saviour in the children we save.”
Since 2012, the Lieutenancy of Ireland has donated in excess of €20,000 towards the operational costs of the Creche.
Project: The Effeta Paul VI Institute, Bethlehem
The Effeta Paul VI Institute, Bethlehem is a special needs school for the audio-phonetic rehabilitation of deaf children resent in the Palestinian Territories. The main aims of the Institute are training and preparing students to face society with the understanding that deafness in not an obstacle for personal achievement in civil society.
The school was established in Bethlehem, when the Pope Paul VI visited the Holy Land in 1964. During his visit, his Holiness noticed that there were plenty of deaf children from Bethlehem, who were not getting the assistance and education they needed. He then expressed his willingness to establish an educational institute for their rehabilitation and education.
The name of the institute refers to a passage in the Holy Gospel, according to Saint Mark (7, 32 – 37) which says: “Some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him: “Ephpheta!” which means “Be opened”. At this, the man’s ears were opened. His tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.”
In Palestine, the problem of congenital deafness has a very high incidence and affects thousands of children. Since 1971, the Effeta Paul VI Institute allows approximately 180 children in need of assistance and education each year, to be able to listen and speak.
In 2022, at the bequest of one of its members the Lieutenancy of Ireland generously donated the sum of €1,000 towards operational costs.
Project: Hogar Niño Dios, Bethlehem
Hogar Niño Dios, Bethlehem is located just down the hill from the Church of the Nativity. It is a home for severely disabled Palestinian children and some adults. Many of the children have cerebral palsy and other serious neurological conditions that necessitate use of wheelchairs. Some children have microcephaly, autism, Down’s syndrome, and genetic defects. Some have poor vision or hearing. Most do not speak. Half of the home’s residents cannot feed themselves, and most require considerable assistance in the activities of daily living.
Four sisters of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word reside in the home, which was founded by their superior, Mother Maria Pia, in 2005. The sisters are the primary caregivers, assisted by lay staff who provide night-time supervision, meal preparation, cleaning, and playground supervision.
Teachers, physical therapists, and a speech therapist provide full time services right in the home because most of the children are unable to attend school outside the home. Priests of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word celebrate Mass in the home’s chapel, provide spiritual direction for the sisters, and interact regularly with the children. A local physician provides medical services weekly.
Seminarians from the Latin Patriarchal seminary visit regularly. Italian volunteers from Unitalsi and Misericordie assist several times per year. They participate in cleaning and painting projects and assist the sisters in feeding and playing with the children. In 2022, the Lieutenancy of Ireland generously donated the sum of € 500 towards operational costs.
Mother Maria Pia is most grateful for the funding, which has gone toward general operating expenses. During recent years, an additional teacher and physical therapist have been hired. The number of residents has increased from twenty five to thirty one. Work is underway to move the now adolescent boys to a nearby home to be operated by the same religious community; this will require additional expense.
Joy, peace, and love are evident within the home as well as rambunctious behaviour typical of most children. The needs of the children are great, and the sisters would like to accommodate still more children as need arises.
Projects funded by the Lieutenancy of Ireland since its foundation
|1||Abu-Hermar, Eqypt - Village Church 2013 ROAOC Approved project|
|2||Ajloun, Jordan - Church Rehabilitation|
|3||Aleppo, Syria - Franciscan Friars, Syria Carmelite Sisters|
|4||Amman, Jordan - Our Lady of Peace Centre|
|5||Aqaba, Jordan - ‘’Stella Maris’’ Church|
|6||Balad Amman, Jordan -|
|7||Bethlehem – Maternity Hospital, Bethlehem University, Hostel for girls attending Bethlehem University, Daughters of Charity St. Vincent Creche, Effeta Paul VI Institute, Hogar Nino Dios Institute|
|8||Beit Jala, Bethlehem - funding of the printing press and an extension to Seminary|
|9||Beit Sahour, Bethlehem –|
|10||Bethany, West Bank - St Mary’s Kindergarten, Comboni Sisters|
|11||BirZeit, West Bank - Parish Hall, Church Roof repairs|
|12||Gaza - Holy Rosary Sisters School & Convent, Cartias Gaza Humanitarian Aid donations|
|13||Haifa, Galilee -|
|14||Hashimi, Jordan - purchase of land for school|
|15||Jerusalem - St. Louis French Hospital, East Jerusalem Fund|
|16||Jish/Gush Halav, Northern Israel - Youth Centre/Library upgrade|
|17||Jordan - Iraqi Refugees Humanitarian Aid donations|
|18||Kerak, Jordan - secondary school & parish church|
|19||Madaba, Jordan - 2 x school projects|
|20||Mafraq, Jordan - Classroom extension|
|21||Marj al Hamman, Amman, Jordan - Latin Convent|
|22||Naour, Jordan - School capital expansion computer & science labs|
|23||Nazareth, Galilee -|
|24||Rameh, Galilee - school extension €100,00 and school fees|
|25||Safout, Jordan - School upgrade|
|26||Al-Salt, Jordan - Latin Parish|
|27||Taybeh, West Bank - Beit Afram Home for the Elderly|
|28||Tabgha, Galilee - Latin Church|
|29||Tla’Al’Al Amman, Jordan - building of a church hall and presbytery|
|30||Zebadbeh, West Bank -|
|2007||Beit Jala Seminary Extension||€ 25,000|
|Rameh School and fees||€ 56,000|
|2008||Rameh School||€ 60,000|
|Naour School, Jordan||€ 10,000|
|LPJ Schools unspecified||€ 82,000|
|Humanitarian Aid||€ 30,000|
|Holy Family Children's Home||€ 2,000|
|Holy Rosary Sisters School & Convent, Gaza||€ 20,000||2008 ROAOC Approved project|
|2009||Beit Jala Seminary Extension||€125,000|
|Madada School, Jordan||€ 24,500|
|Naour School, Jordan||€ 15,000|
|Humanitarian Aid||€ 20,000|
|Humanitarian Aid to Gaza||€ 25,000|
|2010||Naour School, Jordan||€115,000|
|2012||‘’Stella Maris’’ Church, Aqaba, Jordan||€ 69,985|
|Naour School, Jordan||€ 15,000|
|Daughters of Charity St. Vincent Creche, Bethlehem||€ 10,000|
|2013||‘’Stella Maris’’ Church, Aqaba, Jordan||€ 10,000|
|Naour School, Jordan||€ 19,940|
|Ajloun Church Rehabilitation||€ 29,940|
|2014||Naour School, Jordan||€ 19.900|
|Our Lady of Peace Centre, Amman, Jordan||€ 50,000||2014 ROAOC Approved project|
|Abu-Hermar Village Church, Eqypt||€ 40,000||2013 ROAOC Approved project|
|St. Louis French Hospital, Jerusalem||€ 99,900|
|2015||Naour School, Jordan||€ 20,000|
|St. Louis French Hospital, Jerusalem||€ 50,000|
|Latin Convent in Marj al Hamman, Amman, Jordan||€ 25,000|
|Latin Church, Tabgha||€ 20,000|
|2016||Naour School, Jordan||€ 20,000|
|2017||Franciscan Friars Aleppo, Syria||€ 50,000|
|Carmelite Sisters, Aleppo, Syria||€ 50,000|
|2019||Bir Zeit Parish Hall||€ 21,700|
|Classroom extension, Mafraq, Jordan||€ 64,895|
|School upgrade, Safout, Jordan||€ 63,400|
|Youth Centre/Library upgrade, Jish/Gush Halav, Israel||€ 31,000|
|St Mary’s Kindergarten, Comboni Sisters, Bethany|
|2021||Biz Zeit Church Roof Refurbishment||€ 43,000||GA 263/21|
|Daughters of Charity St. Vincent Creche, Bethlehem||€ 7,000|
|Caritas Jerusalem/Gaza Donations||€ 5,000|
|Iraqi Refugees in Jordan||€ 10,000|
|2022||Beit Afram Home for the Elderly, Taybeh||€ 57,302||GA 322/22|
|Daughters of Charity St. Vincent Creche, Bethlehem||€ 1,000|
|East Jerusalem Fund||€ 1,384|
|Effeta Paul VI Institute, Bethlehem||€ 1,000|
|Hogar Nino Dios Institute, Bethlehem||€ 500|
|2023||Al-Salt Latin Parish, Jordan||€45,000||GA 375/23|
Archbishop opens new 4 classroom School extension in Jordan
Today 12th September 2022, Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly opened a new 4 classroom school extension at Mafraq Latin Parish in Jordan 🇯🇴
Archbishop Kieran is the Spiritual Director, leading the 2022 Holy Land Pilgrimage for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem - Lieutenancy of Ireland 🇮🇪
27 members and friends of the Order are currently in Jordan, part of their 10 day pilgrimage visiting Israel (Read more...), Palestine and Jordan meeting with the 'living stones' in the parishes of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
The school in Mafraq is one of a number of projects that the Equestrian Order support financially.
Mafraq has a Christian community of only 500 faithful, in a city of 75, 000 population
The extension of the school serves the needs of the Latin Parish, as it ensures the continuation of a Christian presence in this part of the Holy Land.
Without the school and the ongoing financial support, given by the Equestrian Order, the Christian population will be extinct as families would have been forced to move away from the area.
Extract of the Irish CatholicExtract of the Irish CatholicExtract of the Irish Catholic newspaper (15/09/2022), contributed by our Communications Officer, Thomas Kilduff, you will see some aspects of the Pilgrimage.
|Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly cutting the tape, at the 4 classroom school extension in Mafraq Latin Parish School||Fr Ferghal McGrady, Diocese of Down and Connor; Mr Kareem Hassan, Engineer Latin Patriarchate; Fr Tareq Hijazin, Parish Priest of Mafraq: Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly; Chevalier Damien Walls, A D Group Chatered Surveyors Belfast; His Excellency Peter Durnin, Lieutenant of Ireland; Fr Francis Mitchell, Archdiocese of Tuam.|
|Chevalier Thomas Kilduff, Cavan; Chevalier Mark Kane, Tuam; Dame Mairéad Walls; Toomebridge; H.E. Peter Durnin, Drogheda; Mr Hazem Haddad, Vice Principal Mafraq School , Chevalier Gearóid Williams, Clare; Mr Kareem Hassan, Engineer Latin Patriarchate and Fr Francis Mitchell, Archdiocese of Tuam.||His Excellency Peter Durnin, Lieutenant of Ireland standing in front of the 4 classroom school extension|
Pilgrimage 2022 - From Ireland to the Holy Land
This morning Monday, Day 8 of our Pilgrimage, we departed Jerusalem, to travel by bus to Jordan 🇯🇴
Prior to our departure from the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre, we were awarded a Pilgrim Certificate by the Ministry of Tourism of Israel 🇮🇱
We travelled north, towards Galilee and crossed from Israel into Jordan at the Sheikh Hussein Centre crossing.
On arrival in Jordan, we drove directly to Al-Maghtas, the Baptismal Site known as 'Bethany Beyond Jordan', where Jesus was baptised by his cousin John.
Matthew 3: 13-17
Holy Mass was concelebrated on the banks of the River Jordan by Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly; Fr Francis Mitchell, Archdiocese of Tuam and Fr Ferghal Mc Grady, Diocese of Down and Connor.
We pilgrims took the opportunity of renewing our baptismal vows, at this most sacred site.
After renewing our Baptismal vows, we drove directly to Mount Nebo, an elevated ridge approximately 710 metres above sea level.
Mount Nebo is mentioned in the Bible as the place where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land before his death.
Maccabees 2: 4-7
We were fortunate to have a very clear, cloudless, day and had an excellent panoramic view of the Promised Land, which we just spent 7 days exploring.
We entered the Memorial Church of Moses and viewed the 6th century Byzantine mosiac in the Diakonikon Baptistry depth colourful hunting and Pastoral scenes.
Departing Mount Nebo, we drove to Amman, where we will be staying for the next to nights in the comfort of the Rosary Sisters' Visitation Home.
On arrival, we were greeted warmly by the Sister Antoinette Kalanzeh, Mother Superior; Sister Christina Masarweh, Saoud, the Reception Manager from Lebanon and Beatrice, Receptionist, was visiting from Ghana.
Leaving Mt Nebo arriving at the Rosary Sisters Visitation Centre in Amman.
On Sunday morning, we arrived by bus at the Church of Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem.
We admired the beautiful panorama and had a group photograph taken. We continued then by foot downhill to the Church of All Nations, situated at the Garden of Gethsemene.
Holy Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly; Fr Francis Mitchell, Archdiocese of Tuam and Fr Ferghal Mc Grady, Diocese of Down and Connor.
Our Musical Director, Dame Mairéad Walls arranged for the signing of beautiful hymns, including Our Lady Queen of Heaven, the sound of which was enhanced greatly by the wonderful acoustic reverberations of the Church interior.
We then walked uphill to the nearby Cenacle 'Upper Room', the location where the Last Supper was celebrated by Jesus for his Disciples, the evening before His Crucifixion.
We were very fortunate to be welcomed by the Franciscan Friar Jakab Varnai, Custodian of the Church, who allowed us direct entry to the complex, on which is situated adjacent to the Upper Room, the Church of Dormition and Tomb of King David.
Leaving the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we took a bus to Bethlehem to visit The Creche of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, a refuge for abandoned children in the town where the Christ Jesus was born.
The Creche is less than a 15 minute walk to the Church of the Nativity.
Here we were warmly welcomed back by Sister Denise Abu Haider, Superior in Charge; Mr Iskandar Andon, the Social Worker and Mr George Tawil, the Administrator who coordinates and acknowledges all donations received.
Leading our pilgrimage group was Dame Veronica Holohan, DCHS who has an established relationship with the Creche, having collected substantial sums of financial donation through her volunteer knitting group in Dublin.
Iskandar, the Social Worker, briefed us on the current situation and allowed us the Blessed opportunity to greet the most recently arrived new born infant, who was abandoned 4 weeks ago.
As we toured the Creche we frequently met with Sr Denise, walking hand in hand with groups of toddlers with excited eyes and anticipated hope.
After a group photograph, we departed the Creche, reminded how fortunate we are each day not to be have been abandoned without the daily love, touch and companionship of one's mother.
Departing the Creche is always emotional, but it helped that we were going straight to the special needs school Hogar Ninos Dios that welcomes disabled children in the Bethlehem area.
This home like The Creche, is located just a 10 minute walk downhill from The Church of the Nativity.
Waiting to greet us was the Mother Superior, Sister Ronces, from the Sisters of the Word Incarnate, of Argentinan descent.
Sister Ronces invited us to meet with the residents and staff, with whom we bonded immediately or should I say they bonded with us instantly, high five ✋ smiles, hugs freely exchanged.
Sister Ronces briefed us on their desperate situation and need for financial support.
The Staff, Children and Sisters literally pray each day for essential items:, food, personal hygiene materials, clothing, birthday presents, bills that need paying,
It was one of the highlights of our pilgrimage, to observe with humility and be grateful for what we have and what we can contribute towards.
This morning 5th September 2022, the Lieutenancy of Ireland begins its Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
We are blessed to return to the Land of Jesus and to meet again the 'living stones' in the parishes of the Latin Patriarchate.
Photos below show our Lieutenant His Excellency Peter Durnin, Spiritual Director Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Pilgrimage Director Dr Frank Hurl, Knight and Dames from the Lieutenancy of Ireland prior to departure at Dublin Airport.
It is with great affection that the members of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem await the arrival of the Lieutenancy of Ireland Pilgrims.
Photos below show Thomas Kilduff, KC*HS, Communications Officer for the Lieutenancy of Ireland with Bishop William Shomali, the General Vicar and Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem; Fr Elias Tabban, Endowments Officer; Fr Tarek Abu Hanna, Vice Rector Beit Jala Seminary; Mr Adeeb Ibrahim, Head of Engineering Department; Mr Sami El-Yousef, Chief Executive Officer; Mr George Akroush, Director of Projects Development Office; Sisters from the Oblates of Saint Martha with Fr David Meli, Chancellor and Fr Adib Ibrahim Zu'mot, former Chancellor L.P.J.
On the 12th September 2022, Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly opened a new 4 classroom school extension at Mafraq Latin Parish in Jordan (Read more...)
The Order's work in the Holy Land
Fr Kevin Laheen and Tom Ryan RHA at one of our supported projects
Pope Francis in his address to the Consulta of the Order in November 2018 said:
"It is a good sign that your initiatives in the field of training and health care are open to all, regardless of the communities they belong to and the religion they profess. In this way you help pave the way to the knowledge of Christian values, to the promotion of interreligious dialogue, mutual respect and mutual understanding. In other words, with your meritorious commitment, you too offer your contribution to the construction of the path that will lead, we all hope, to the achievement of peace throughout the region…….. Then, with regard to your mission in the world, do not forget that you are not a philanthropic entity committed to promoting the material and social improvement of recipients. You are called to place the evangelical love of your neighbour as the final aim of your works, to witness everywhere the goodness and care with which God loves everyone. The admission into your Order of bishops, priests and deacons is absolutely not an honour. It is part of their tasks of pastoral service to assist those among you who have a role of responsibility by providing opportunities for community and liturgical prayer at every level, continuous spiritual opportunities and catechesis for ongoing formation and for the growth of all the members of the Order”.
Since the establishment of the Lieutenancy in 1986, Irish members and their supporters have donated over €5m to the Holy Land, funding capital and current projects in schools, the seminary, humanitarian activities, and financing the education of a Maronite seminarian in Rome.
Member in donating to the Holy Land are animated by the Purposes of the Order.
“The Order, with its structure and activities, participates directly in the Roman Pontiff’s solicitude for places and Catholic institutions in the Holy Land. Its goals spring from papal teachings and are located in the general context of the ends of charity, apostleship and service to the dignity of the human being that are specific to the Catholic Church. The specific mission assigned by the Holy Father to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is that of animating zeal in the ecclesial community towards the Land of Jesus and sustaining the Catholic Church and the Christian presence there”.
The Holy Land is defined as Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the Occupied Territories, Cyprus and the Kingdom of Jordan, all governed spiritually by His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, currently Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
Most Christians in the Holy Land are Arab. Christians are more or less 350,000 out of 23 million people living in the three countries. The world-wide Order donates circa US$14m per annum. In the period since the inception of the Lieutenancy we have donated in excess of €5m to the Holy Land.
Today the Christian population has dwindled to about 50,000 Christians in the Palestinian territories (about 1.5 percent of the population) and about 153,000 (2010) Christians in Israel (approximately two percent). Estimates suggest that about 1,000 Christians a year are leaving their homeland.
According to the 2003 Israeli census approx 98% of Israel’s Christians live in urban settlements with 20% in Nazareth, 12% in Haifa, and 10% in Jerusalem. 60% of all Christians live in Northern Israel.
The Irish contribution to the Order's work in the Holy Land
Irish funding has been provided to projects in Tila ei Ali, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, in Bethlehem to the Holy Family Children’s Home, a youth hostel, the maternity hospital, the University and a hostel for girls attending the University; Haifa, Naour School in Jordan; Nazareth; in Kerak support to the Parish and the School; Ramah School in Galilee and Zebabdeh. In many instances members of the Lieutenancy have visited the Irish sponsored projects whilst on pilgrimage.
The Lieutenancy is a registered charity (No. CHY8617). Its financial statements are audited annually by a non member registered auditor and are available on the website of the Charity Regulator www.charitiesregulator.ie .
Details on some Projects supported by the Lieutenancy over the last 30 odd years.
2021 supported project Mafraq, Jordan.
Background: This City is 20kms from Syrian Border and surrounded by Iraq and Saudi Arabia and is 70km from Amman. There are 2,500 Christians in a population of 75,000. The parish has a secondary school that contains classes until the 10th grade only; pupils of Mafraq continue their high school education in the neighbouring villages and cities.
The students are forced to be enrolled in non-Christian governmental schools where they do not study Christian education which forms a genuine dilemma. The beneficiaries of this project are the students who will not have to move to another school outside the City when they reach high school. It will also open new job opportunities for the teachers who will be teaching in the newly opened classes. We will fund the construction of a new building inside the parish compound to include three classrooms for the 11th and 12th grades, a teachers’ room, and bathrooms. We in Ireland have committed USD $78,690 for that purpose.
Safout School, Jordan, 2020
Background: the town of Safout is located 20 km north west of Amman Jordan, and is economically poor. Of the total population of 15,000 inhabitants, there are 1,750 Christians, of which 160 are Catholic Christians. The population consists mostly of employees and workers who commute daily to work in the cities of Fuheis, Salt and Amman. The School is the smallest of all the Latin Patriarchate schools of the Patriarchal Diocese.
The problem: The school did not comply with the minimum health and safety standards.
Our input: With the generous donation of 50,000 Jordanian dinars received from the Irish Lieutenancy in 2020 as well as private donations and local contributions rehabilitation works were implemented to the building of the School to improve the situation of the classrooms, restrooms and the kitchen. The work included installation of suspended gypsum board, tiling, electrical and mechanical works.
Result: The serious safety and health concerns have been eliminated through the rehabilitation work. The duration of the project was from March 2020 until January 2021. The project required ten months to be completed due to the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic and the related lockdowns in Jordan.
Beneficiaries: The direct beneficiaries of the project are the students and teachers of the School who now attend their classes in a safe school meeting State health and safety standards; students’ parents are reassured since their children study in a safe and healthy classroom environment. The indirect beneficiary of the project is the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which strives to provide the best for the parishioners and all faithful, and to allow the continuity of the LPJ biblical mission in serving its communities in the Holy Land and Jordan.
Holy Family Children’s Home, Bethlehem
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.
Five-day old baby
Other Projects supported in recent years
Jish/ Gush Halav
Jish is a Maronite Village in Northern Israel a few miles from Lebanon’s Border. It is a small town of 3,000 and has two Maronite priests. With 65 percent of its residents belonging to the Maronite Church, Jish is the only village in Israel with a majority Maronite population. Muslims constitute about 35 percent of the residents, with a smattering of Melkite Christians making up the tiny remainder.
In 2019 Ireland funded the remodelling of a youth centre and a library centre
Creche in Bethany, East Jerusalem, backing onto the Separation Wall
Bethany was sealed off by the Separation Wall in 2004. The Comboni Sisters started their mission in Bethany in 1966. St Mary’s Kindergarten now hosts 48 children, most of whom are Muslims, coming from families living under social and economic hardship. The Sisters are immediately adjacent to the Separation Wall having to regularly endure tear gas, Molotov cocktails and stone throwing. They are striving to provide a pleasant and welcoming environment for the children to stay as a witness for love, peace and harmony.
The funds made available in 2019 by the Lieutenancy provided a fire-proof roof for part of the play area and renovated two existing classrooms.
|Members with the children 2019|
Birzeit Parish and School Hall
Birzeit, also Bir Zeit, is a Palestinian town north of Ramallah in the central West Bank. It is 73km north of Jerusalem. Its population in the 2007 census was 4,529.
A host of projects and programs have changed the lives of the people in the town and surrounding villages. The 2019 donation will remodel the School Hall from an auditorium to a flat floor building. This will be used both by the school for lectures, graduation ceremonies etc; it will also be used by the Parish church communities, scouts etc.
|Students in Bir Zeit School with members of the Lieutenancy|
Since the dawn of Christianity, Christian communities have flourished in and around the provincial towns of Karak, Madaba, Salt, and Amman, while the growth of Christianity in the Middle East has nurtured a bond with the Hashemite Kingdom. The Christian population is between 5% and 6%. In Jordan, about half the Christians are Jordanian, and the other half are Iraqi.
To maintain the Christian presence in the Holy Land, the Churches consider a good education system in Christian schools to be essential. Therefore, the Churches themselves manage
- 28 schools in Palestine
- 31 schools in Israel and
- 44 schools in Jordan.
The Latin Patriarchate is committed to offering quality instruction to all, girls and boys, Christian and Muslim alike. The Patriarchate has a network of 45 schools and 34 kindergartens and employs 1550 teachers and support staff; 95% are lay and 84% are Christian. They operate within the approved educational programme set by the respective governments. In addition to the standard curriculum, schools offer such programs as psychological assistance, help for special-needs students, catechism, French, biology. Additional classes are provided in music, arts, ecological awareness, peace and social responsibility, and schools offer sports in which boys and girls participate.
Unlike schools in Israel, private schools in Palestine and Jordan receive little financial support from education ministries.
Patriarch Twal inaugurated the new 450 seater Church of Stella Maris in Aqaba, Jordan, on Friday, December 14, 2012. For the first time, the Christians of Aqaba celebrated Christmas in their Church. The reason a church was built is that Aqaba is a city of the future.
Numerous Jordanians come to live in Aqaba where they find work, among them Christian families. Aqaba is a strategic city by its position: a port city, positioned on the border of Israel and not far from Egypt, it attracts Jordanians and also offers work to many migrants. Philippine and Sri Lankan Catholics, numbering about 300, join the local Christians who represent 2% of the city’s population. The new Church of Stella Maria, situated a few minutes from the sea, is also “a witness and a spiritual place of welcome” for Christians in transit, explains the Patriarch, in particular for the many tourists who come to swim, drawn by the Red Sea and the Wadi Rum.
|A large hall was built under the church (pictured) for this purpose, to accommodate Christians celebrations: marriages, first communions and others. It will also contribute to parochial life, developing prayer groups for the young, the Legion of Mary, the scout movement, etc. The lieutenancy contributed significantly to the building costs.||Hall was made under the church||Stella Maris Church in Aqaba|
Part finance a new printing plant and the transfer of machinery for the Patriarchate at just outside Jerusalem. It has printed the new Catechism, pastoral letters, the diocesan paper etc. This Project also provided much needed employment.
On the boundaries of the town of Bethlehem and Beit-Jala House stands St. Theresa’s (a university residence for girls), on the road to Hebron, the Lieutenancy assisted its conversion into a hostel for about 40 girl students of the University whose homes are a considerable distance away.
A Maronite cleric undertaking post graduate studies.
In January 2009 following appeal from the Grand Master.to the world wide Order, Ireland sent a sizable donation to assist in humanitarian aid following the Israeli invasion of Gaza.
Purchase of land for a school. Hashimi is situated in a densely populated area in the east of Amman not far from the centre of downtown.
This continues year in year out. In the humanitarian area, the four core programs of
- social assistance;
- medical emergencies;
- medicines; and
- educational support.
These have been complimented with additional programs of assistance targeting three specific groups being Iraqi refugees in Jordan; unemployed youth in Gaza; and marginalized families in East Jerusalem. Through these funds, hundreds of families were supported, though temporarily in some cases to enable them to live a dignified life. New programs are being designed to target the chronic social cases to enroll them in empowerment programs to assist them stand on their own feet in the future. Ireland has supported fellow Christians in East Jerusalem and assisted medical provision.
An example of how these donations was utilized is as follows: K.A. is a 5-year-old little girl from Beit Jala. Her family consists of 4 members who live in their own house. Her father works as a teacher at the Latin Beit Jala School. Her mother works in the Good Shepherd School, where the family total income is about 7,500 NIS per month. The family has a loan from the bank and they have monthly payments. K. suffers from congenital problems in her left eye. K underwent several operations in her eye, but her situation did not improve. In order not to lose her sight she underwent a very critical and sensitive surgery at Hadasah Hospital and because they are from the West bank and have no insurance for Israeli hospital they were forced to pay the whole amount. The total cost of her operation was NIS 28,450 (€7,300) which is a big amount for a family with a minimum income. In cooperation with Christian organizations the LPJ was able to contribute to help K. with a total of 5, 000 NIS to allow the little girl to undergo the surgery and to return home in better conditions.
Includes the administrative cost of the Patriarchate, funds to meet the cost of maintaining the Latin Seminary, to meet the expenses of the clergy and their workers, in all the Patriarch, 4 bishops, 86 priests and 118 nuns; and help for the schools, which includes kindergartens.
The erection of a secondary school. Kerak is located in the Kingdom of Jordan, 124km south of Amman. It is the largest town in South Jordan. The Parish dates to 1871. The school was built in the neighbourhood of the Christian villages of Ader, Smakieh [the only village in Jordan inhabited solely by Catholics - Latin and Melkite rites with a population of 1500], Rabbas and Hmoud. Currently 800 pupils. A sizable donation, in conjunction with Lieutenancies in France and Canada Montreal and the Grand Magisterium was made for a parish church. The parish church is dedicated to “Our Lady of the Rosary” and is the only one in Jordan to have a decorated wooden ceiling.
Madaba Schools Project
Madaba is a medium-sized city of 60,000 in Jordan, located 25km southwest of Amman and 20 minutes from Mt. Nebo. It has become known as the "City of the Mosaics" for the many Byzantine mosaics that have been uncovered throughout the city. In Madaba Balad (close to the city) there will be a mixed school for boys and girls up to grade 3 and a girls’ school from grade 4 to 12, while Madaba Ma’in will become a single sex school for boys from grade 4 to 12. The works (construction and plant) included the electro-mechanical systems, 32 classrooms, 1 library, 4 laboratories and 30 WC units. The total internal works area is over 3500 sq. mts., while external works amount to 1800 sq. mts. of walls and roof plus 1500 sq. mts. of outdoor facilities and playground.
Part payment of the tuition fees of the Christian students attending Naour School, which was founded in 1924. The school family is of both sexes and has both a Christian and Muslim student base and teaching staff. The School caters from kindergarten and Primary ie ages 4 to 11. The Lieutenancy recently funded the capital expansion of the School. This involves an extension of around 95 sq mt to the ground floor, to host the new Computer and Science laboratories. The members of the Lieutenancy have visited the School, its students and teachers on many occasions.
A donation in excess of €100,000 to this school, which is in Northern Israel: the School was established in 1912. Has 377 students of whom 329 are Christian (2008). Rameh itself is entirely made up of Israeli Arabs and has a mostly Christian and Druze population as well as a smaller Muslim population. A further expansion is being undertaken currently.
The Patriarchal Seminary which was established in 1852 is located at Beit Jala. So far, over 280 priests have been ordained from it. The average number ordained is 2. Geographically, two thirds of the students come from Jordan and the other third come from Palestine and Israel. Ireland financed an extension to the Patriarchal Seminary. This is an important project in view of an increasing number of adult vocations. The applicants who enter the Major Seminary need to attend a one-year preparatory course (concentrating on furthering the practice of prayer, communal living and Christian virtues). During this time they need to be housed close to, yet separate from, the students in the Upper Seminary. Currently there are 32 minor seminarians and 18 major seminarians.
Tla’ Al ‘Ali
The building of a Church, hall and presbytery This is situated in a district to the north east of Amman in a mixed economic area where there is some unemployment.
“Our faithful and the other Palestinian citizens aspire to sovereignty and independence. In the land of Christ, they are not foreigners. It is their homeland”. Unity in Diversity, first pastoral letter of Patriarch Twal May 2009.
In 2017 one of our members, Comdt Frank Hearns, undertook a charity cycle from Malahide to Rome in the context of his 75th. birthday. Its purpose was in support of “the children of Aleppo”. They were remitted to Father Ibrahim al Sabagh ofm who is the parish priest of the Latin community based there.
This was used for summer camps for 350 children in 2018. As they had not had the opportunity to play during the war, there was a substantial leap in their scholastic education. They also had cooking courses and courses in dancing. It also financed another 5 summer camps as well as camps for 600 adults and for more than 400 university students. Many of the participants had never left Aleppo due to combat at all, or for many years in the case of adults. Food packs were provided 400 families during a period of four months for which the first beneficiaries were children.