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Fragility The Order’s contribution to the work of the St James Vicariate with Hebrew speaking Catholics

Script for theme of Fragility

Voice over + images: As an integral part of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the St James Vicariate, which was first founded as an association in 1955, aims to help and support the Hebrew-speaking Catholic communities in Israel. These communities include both local Christians and migrants and asylum seekers. Since 2013, the St James Vicariate has been acting as an autonomous Vicariate within the Latin Patriarchate. 

Father Rafic Nahra: The asylum seekers are not accepted in Israel. That’s why we never speak of refugees, but we always speak of asylum seekers. These people know that they are here for a short time, they have to work very very hard with very low salaries, and many of them are already projecting to go to another country, which is very difficult. So we try to help them first of all with the children because this is the first means that we have; sometimes, we also help them with administrative things, we work with Israeli organizations where there are lawyers for instance, who help them for the legal difficulties and so on. 

Voice over + images: In Jerusalem, the Saint Rachel center is a pastoral entity that serves the children of foreign workers, migrants and asylum seekers under the jurisdiction of the St James Vicariate. It opened in September 2016 and was able to be entirely renovated by the Vicariate thanks to funds sent by the Order of the Holy Sepulchre as well as other donors.

Father Benedetto Di Bitonto: During the 1st lockdown last year, we made a decision to move into the center and to live together for as much time as needed. So we spent almost two months, 51 days, living in the center with nine of our children. We had to choose, to pick those with the most difficult situations, either because they were only children, or because their flat was too small to live in for we didn't know how long. So nine children and nine adults: we lived here and we spent the whole lockdown together. 

Voice over + images: In addition to the St James Vicariate, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem also founded in 2011 the Coordination for the Pastoral Work among Migrants, which became in 2018 the Vicariate for Migrants and Asylum Seekers. It is served by pastoral workers belonging to the local Catholic Church who organize the pastoral work among migrant communities. 

Father Rafic Nahra: One of the things I discovered during these years in which I served in the Vicariate for migrants is how much the migrants are generous, really generous, in a regular way. When we have Masses and they come, they are the first ones to buy a lot of things, to prepare the food; they work all the day before to serve the others, and if some food remains they give it to the others even though they are really really poor. They are very sensitive really and they have a sense of faith in God and devotion. 

Voice over + images: To expand their activities, the Vicariates are supported by the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, who help them develop programs, buy goods and materials to organize more activities for the youth, and translate spiritual literature into Hebrew. Thanks to the Order, Father Piotr Zelasko, the head of the St James Vicariate, was also able to produce a book for the members of the Vicariate who visit migrants in prison. The book provided them with readings, meditations and other resources.  

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