St. Matthew’s Catholic Church of Charlotte, North Carolina, has been selected by the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) to receive the 2007 Living Stones Solidarity Award. This award is given annually to honor persons and institutions that have shown extraordinary commitment to solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land.

St. Matthew’s Catholic Church of Charlotte, North Carolina, has been selected by the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) to receive the 2007Living Stones Solidarity Award. This award is given annually to honor persons and institutions that have shown extraordinary commitment to solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land. 

The term “living stones” refers to the Christian people (as distinguished from the Christian buildings) of the Holy Land. Most of the Holy Land’s Christians are descendants of Jesus’ apostles. 

The programs of HCEF are designed to provide moral, spiritual, and financial support to Christians of all denominations in Palestine, Israel, and Jordan. 

The Living Stones Solidarity Award will be presented to the people of St. Matthew’s at a banquet held in conjunction with the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation’s Ninth International Conference, which will be held on October 26 and 27, 2007, at National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. The theme of the conference is “Walking the Path of Peace”. The Awards Banquet will take place on Friday, October 26, at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel, 6701 Marinelli Rd., North Bethesda, MD 20852. 

Under the leadership of Monsignor J. McSweeney, the pastor of St. Matthew’s, the parish has contributed significantly to the well-being of the “living stones” through both parish-wide programs and individual efforts. The parish has sponsored two “Holy Land Days” during which over $30,000 worth of handcrafts made by Palestinian Christian artisans were sold. In addition, over 400 families and individuals at St. Matthew’s have provided funds to support the education of over 400 children in Christian schools in the Holy Land.

In 2006, St. Matthew’s participated in the HCEF’s Children’s Peace Program, under which the parish hosted five eighth-grade Palestinian students and their teacher for six weeks. The visiting students lived with parish families, and attended school with their host families’ children.

In commenting on St. Matthew’s participation in the Children’s Peace Program, Rateb Rabie, HCEF’s President, said, “This program is a cultural exchange for peace, for it promotes awareness and understanding between American and Palestinian Christians. The children who come from the Holy Land are both delightful and effective ambassadors of the Mother Church.”

In the fall of 2006, Coadjutor Archbishop Fouad Twal of the Latin (Roman Catholic) Patriarchate of Jerusalem visited St. Matthews, which has given significant moral and financial support to the Patriarchate. Archbishop Twal has been designated next Patriarch of Jerusalem.

All those interested in the Holy Land are invited to HCEF’s October Conference in Washington. For specific information about the conference, consult the following web sites:

Conference Registration : 
http://www.hcef.org/index.cfm/ID/466.cfm
Award Recipients 2007:    
http://www.hcef.org/index.cfm?mod=arts&id=453 
Hotel Accommodations:   
http://www.hcef.org/index.cfm?mod=arts&id=450
Endorsement Letters:       
http://www.hcef.org/index.cfm?mod=arts&id=459
To be a sponsor:               
http://www.hcef.org/index.cfm?mod=arts&id=456
To place an ad:                  
http://www.hcef.org/index.cfm?mod=arts&id=462

To donate a gift to the Silent Auction: http://hcef.org/publicfiles/conference/8thconference/DonationForm.pdf