Web-Cam with Ramallah The distance between Utica and Ramallah was reduced significantly recently. On Sunday, July 26, a web-cam (audio-video) connection was made with Holy Family Parish, our sister parish in Ramallah, Palestine. Not only were miles trimmed away, but time was also turned back as Holy Land pilgrims and host/buddy families reunited briefly with their Ramallah host families and the children who participated in the Children’s Peace Project of 2007.
The idea for the web-cam session originated at a Holy Land Committee meeting during the early part of 2009. Here was a convenient way for St. Lawrence parishioners to connect with their Holy Family counterparts with no travel required and only minimal expense incurred. The first requirement was satisfied when Youth Group Coordinator Marilyn Trumper-Samra delivered a web-cam to Holy Family Pastor, Father Aktham, during her Holy Land trip this past May. After a date and time were agreed upon to make the connection, the remaining tasks were to practice with the web-cam and alert interested participants on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Shortly after 9:00 AM (4:00 PM Ramallah-time) on July 26, Sandi Viviano made contact with the Holy Family computer while using a St. Lawrence computer. Several minutes were required to complete the connection because the signal traveled from the Central U.S. all the way across the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea to Palestine. Sandi had to focus the screen and adjust the volume before we saw faces and heard voices. Around a table were sitting Father Aktham and Holy Family parishioners, including Laila Kouchakji (hostess for pilgrims Mike and Caroline Butkiewicz) and Abu George (host for pilgrim Father Don) plus Peace Project participants Bulos, Dina, Donia, and Majdi. Bulos was wearing his St. Lawrence shirt.
Present on the St. Lawrence side were Mike and Caroline, pilgrim Fran Marshall, the Lucido family (hosts for Majdi), the Viviano family (buddy family for Dina), the Logrosso family (buddy for Bulos), Mary Kraus (buddy family for Majdi), and Fathers Bob, John, and Phil. .For most of an hour, Mike and Caroline chatted with Laila and the children talked with each other and their hosts and buddies. In between, Father Aktham spoke with his U.S. counterparts. The audio-visual conference had to be brought to a conclusion so our 10:00 Mass could begin.
All those present at both locations were very pleased with the outcome. The only persons leaving early were those helping with the Mass preparation. Some interesting bits of information learned during the discussions include:
- Bulos and Majdi left later that day for scout camp.
- The Holy Family rectory has five vacant rooms for Fathers Bob, John, and Phil whenever they might visit.
- Father Aktham will travel to Washington, DC in October and hopes to pay us a visit then.
- Father Aktham is interested in having web-cam sessions on a monthly basis, and that is a goal we want to pursue.