May 17-22, 2003 marked six days of meetings between political and religious leaders of Torreon, Mexico and two representatives of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF).

The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical  Foundation*
News Release

For Immediate Release   

Christians in Torreon, Mexico Host HCEF Delegation, Plan Twin City Relationship with Bethlehem, and Establish HCSN Committee

May 17-22, 2003 marked six days of meetings between political and religious leaders of Torreon, Mexico and two representatives of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF).  Rateb Rabie, HCEF President, and George Ghattas, HCEF Country Representative-Palestine, were hosted by the Honoroable Guillermo Anaya Llamas, the Municipal President of Torreon, and by the Most Reverend Jose Guadalupe Galvan Galindo, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Torreon. 

The HCEF delegation proposed the idea of twinning the city of Torreon with the city of Bethlehem.  On May 18, Mayor Llamas officially announced that he will initiate this twin city relationship with the Honorable Hanna Nasser, Mayor of Bethlehem and sent a confirmation letter for Mayor Nasser with the HCEF representatives.  A local Holy Land Christian Support Network (HCSN) committee was formed and has already begun work planning the events that will surround the official ceremony to inaugurate the twinning of the cities.  The chair of the local committee is Grace Abularage.  Mrs. Abularage may be contacted by email at:  Other committee members include: Mariluz ZarZar Charur, Assistant Chair; Huby Mascort de Kort; Monica Issa de Fernandez Ale Zurita; and Sharon Lee.

“The energy and commitment of this HCSN committee is astounding,” said Mr. Rabie, the HCEF President.  “The Christians here are clearly passionate about supporting their Brothers and Sisters.  We are looking forward to hosting several members of Torreon’s HCSN committee at the national office in Bethesda.  They will be an inspiration in many ways to our existing HCSN volunteers across the United States.”  

Bishop Galindo and Mayor Llamas also presided as an olive tree brought it from the Holy Land was planted in a ceremony at Cristo de las Noas, a Catholic Church in Torreon.  More than 600 people attended the service for peace in the Holy Land, and Bishop Galindo pledged diocesan support for HCEF’s programs that will create solidarity between the Christians of Torreon and those in the Holy Land. 

The diocese has already begun facilitating the involvement of local Christians in HCEF’s Child Sponsorship Program, Christmas Gifts program” Jesus loves the Children”, establishing sites for the sales of Holy Land Gifts, and identifying parishes who could benefit from having a Parish Partnership with a Holy Land parish. 

Mr. Rabie and Mr. Ghattas also met with local Christians at the Instituto Cumbres to present the plight of the Holy Land Christians and describe the ways that HCEF is working to preserve Christianity in the Holy Land.  Bernardo Vazquez Leano, the Director of Instituto Cumbres, coordinated this event and has offered the facilities of Instituto Cumbres as a local “home” for HCEF in Torreon.  The local business community of Palestinian Christians also demonstrated strong support for HCEF’s work and committed to promoting HCEF’s programs among Torreon’s Christians. 

*The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to improving the lives of Christians in the Holy Land through building bonds of solidarity between Christians in the United States and Christians in the Holy Land. We have two goals: to inform Americans about the Christians in the Holy Land, and to provide humanitarian assistance for the needy in the land where Jesus Christ was born, preached, died and rose again.  HCEF, 6935 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 214, Bethesda, MD 20815 (301)951-9400, Toll Free (866) 871-4233 (HCEF),  Email: