Sir Rateb is a Christian from Palestine, born in Jordan. His parents were forced to leave Jerusalem 1948 and emigrated to Jordan. Later, he emigrated to the United States where he married and has lived for 35 years. Sir Rabie is an American Citizen.
Regarding his life’s journey he says: “I was a businessman, I was consumed with thinking about how to gain power and money. Then I got an invitation to return to the Holy Land and felt called to do something for Christians and peace.
Three years after that return visit, I realized that I had to choose between going ahead with my job and business career or pursue the mission for the Holy Land Christians. I knew I could not do both simultaneously. I left everything and entered fully into this ministry and now I can say I am happy. I have four daughters and at first my family questioned me because they could not understand why I was starting this non-profit organization. It took time, but a Foundation was formed, engaging the entire international community.”
The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) was started 14 years ago with the intention of keeping Christians in the Holy Land. It now has offices in Washington, DC and Bethlehem, Palestine. Millions of Christians from the Holy Land live in the Diaspora around the world, and this Foundation is trying to connect them to the small community of Christians in the Holy Land.
HCEF has about 500 core volunteers and thousands of other people who help in various ways. Politics is not of interest for them.
Sir Rabie stated, “Medjugorje has attracted messengers of peace and has many other links to the Holy Land. In particular, our ecumenical prayer movement, ‘Maranatha!’ will focus on the many messages of Medjugorje that emphasize peace as a community-led mission. The second objective of organizing the ecumenical prayer movement, ‘Maranatha” is to establish peace between Israelis and Arabs and between Muslims and Jews, for as we are Christians we need to establish that we are the bridge on which peace will be built”.
Sir Rateb Rabie believes that Our Lady of Medjugorje beseeches us to seek peace. He was praying how to get to Medjugorje, to this holy place, to meet her, listen to her and to be close to her.
Rabie said, “I have long wanted to come here because many people who walk with me in peace and volunteering have been here once or twice. They told me I was to come home and bring them blessings from Medjugorje. I feel that I am blessed to be here and I am full of enthusiasm to return home and build a new path to peace in the Holy Land by bringing us closer to Our Lady of Medjugorje who teaches, advices, and guides that we must bring peace to the Holy Land so that all people who love peace can come to the Holy Land, to Bethlehem, the city of peace, where He was born, Prince of Peace.”
He went on to say,” We will pray together, the faithful– Christians, Jews, Muslims, all together. We look forward to the presence of Monsignor Andre-Joseph Leonard, Archbishop of Belgium, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and many other people joining us as we hold the first prayer meeting for peace in Bethlehem.”
The hope is that there will be thousands of people in Bethlehem to say the prayer for world peace. Peace in the Holy Land is needed, because if there is peace in the land of our Lord, peace will be everywhere! The theme of the ecumenical prayer movement is,: ” To bring peace to mankind we must first bring it to the Holy Land.”
Rabie then continued: “This is the first time HCEF has attempted to organize something like this and I do not know what difficulties we may encounter or what may happen, because I believe the evil one can go against us. We fervently pray that we will succeed in this and that we will be in the good hands of Our Lady of Medjugorje. This is a way to connect the Holy Land with Medjugorje. She has always called for peace in the Holy Land, and has arrived in Medjugorje for a reason, in this country that has so long been under communism.”
Rabie reflected, “My first knowledge of Medjugorje was 10 years ago. I heard that Our Lady was appearing here, but did not really pay attention until I began to meet people who had been to Medjugorje and heard how they were talking about Medjugorje as a place searching for a way to establish peace in the Holy Land. I knew then that the world needs Medjugorje to help us in fulfilling our mission.”
Rabie goes to the Holy Land four times a year, but knew that something was missing. He needed to come to Medjugorje personally, to feel it, to be with people here and to experience their spiritual needs. He says now he knows that as a complement to our mission all must join HCEF on the mission which has begun, the ecumenical mission for peace.
Rabie believes Our Lady of Medjugorje in the future will be a leader, as she speaks to the world and teaches peace and hope. He knows Our Lady of Medjugorje will be with those who together will fulfill her wish for world peace.
Our Lady of Medjugorje came here pursuing peace. Her apparitions are a sign of something great, something needed and it all connects with the Holy Land.
Sir Rabie said, “I think a lot of people in the Holy Land are familiar with the events at Medjugorje, but not as much as it should be. I want to change that.”
Sir Rateb thanked the faithful at the end with these words: “Thank you for the opportunity to be here with Our Lady. I feel so blessed now that I will start working more on my life. When I get back to the US I will start work on this prayer for peace for mankind.”
Accompanying his delegation was Sabrina Covic from Paris, who added that they met through common friends in 2007 and Rabie invited her to come to Washington.
Covic explained, “Many HCEF volunteers and the people involved have been to Medjugorje, and ask why HCEF does not have a closer tie to Medjugorje as Medjugorje has changed their lives. They became active in helping people in their Churches on behalf of HCEF after their personal experiences in Medjugorje. I think this is something priceless and that this is wonderful now as this is the beginning of a close relationship. HCEF is a natural catalyst for peace.”
Rateb Rabie said that despite all of his obligations he would like to take a week and come back to Medjugorje with his family and friends.
According to a final statement by Sabrina Covic, “Rateb is a man of faith, a man who is active in spiritual matters, but always stresses his organization HCEF remains not political, theological or ecclesiastical. HCEF acts as a resource for His Beatitude Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.”