Nothing distinguishes HCEF's support for the Christians of the Holy Land more than its programs. Last month's International Day for the Elderly at HCEF's Fr. Anton Buzo Senior Citizens' Center in Birzeit was a perfect example of that support and innovation.
On October 9, HCEF's field staff, which is based in Bethlehem, worked diligently with its network of volunteers in the surrounding Birzeit area to bring this festive day of nurturing and recognition to the Birzeit Senior Citizens' Center, which is home to some 65 Christian elderly in this small town north of Ramallah.
Birzeit Senior Citizen Center residents share a traditional meal
The tightly packed program included prayer, readings from the Bible, gift exchange, and a traditional meal between the elders and their family members. Free medical checkups for the elders were provided throughout the day in coordination with the Palestinian Medical Relief Services for the seniors in Birzeit. The elders presented a remarkable ecumenical prayer that affirmed the Christian community's long-standing belief in peaceful coexistence and reconciliation.
A gift exchange was parto fthe day's events
Hearing about the events from HCEF headquarters in Bethesda, MD, HCEF Preseidnet/CEO Rateb Rabie commented: "Overall, we hope to honor Birzeit's Christian elders with a lasting sense of dignity, an improved quality of life and a message of solidarity from here to the Holy Land. The International Day for the Elderly is the perfect time to do this."
In demonstration of HCEF's ecumenical spirit, Birzeit residents including the Parish Ladies committees, the Caltholic and Orthodox youth committees, and St. Vincent de Paul Society (Mar Mansour) joined the Parish priests from the three different denominations (Fr. Azziz from the Catholic Church, Reverant Nael from the Anglican Church, and Fr. Issa and Fr. Yussef from the Orthodox Church) in the ecumenical prayer with the elderly. The event reinforced a message of peace and solidarity among the community's various churches.
Local church leaders demonstrated their ecumenism at International Day for the Elderly
According to Fr. Issa of the Orthodox Church in Birzeit, "This remarkable event allowed us to convey our prayer from Birzeit Senior Center asking for peace and harmony among all people."
The Birzeit community and their parish leaders were inspired by the event and determined to continue arranging further activities between the ecumenical congregations.
Free medical checkups were made available throughout the day