During Lent many parishes, schools and institutions of the Holy Land organize spiritual retreats. Catechists from our Catholic schools began this spiritual time with a retreat in Nazareth on February 25, organized by the “Office of Catholic Schools” in Israel, under the direction of Father Abdelmasih Fahim, ofm, in conjunction with the Catechism Committee, coordinated by Mons. G. B Marcuzzo.

The meeting, at which 51 teachers of religion from all Israel participated, lasted almost the entire day. The retreat, in the beginning, hinged on a dominant spiritual orientation, but, however, in the perspective of updating and renewal, it turned to the very real theme of the new evangelization.


After the introduction by Father Abdelmasih, Mons. Marcuzzo began the reflection with a conference-discussion on “the permanent necessity of self-renewal and renewing our methods and instruments of teaching. This could not be done if unless by a closer examination of our faith, as the local Church did in the well-known Diocesan Synod and in its document ‘General Pastoral Plan’. This in-depth analysis therefore will not be possible if it will not bring permanent attention to men and children, accompanied by a coherent personal witness, by apostolic zeal, and by a continued rootedness in the Word of God.”

In the second part of the morning, Dr. Shadi Abou Khadra, secretary of the Latin Vicariate, and secretary of the Catechism Commission, proposed to the catechists on PowerPoint a presentation of lessons from Catechism Manuals for different classes, entitled: “Multimedia Catechism Program”. It is an easy and effective instrument, a concrete sign of an effort in view of the new evangelization, that the teacher can use everywhere and always, with some very different applications. Alumni, parents and educators can also use the instrument at home, in the parish, and during different meetings. Catechists have found this instrument very useful and practical for many uses. In addition, it can raise a renewed interest in the catechism on the students’ part. The catechists hope that this medium will be made available to all schools, parishes and families of the Holy Land.

After the Mass, celebrated in the ‘Don Guanella’ Special School Chapel, by Father Abdelmasih, and the Lenten meal organized by Sr. Ester Bisharat, and prayer at the Annunciation Grotto, the entire afternoon program took place at the Mary of Nazareth International Center: a place that is a sign of a new pastoral on the Holy Sites and thus of the new evangelization for local faithful and pilgrims.

The catechists, welcomed by M. Luc and by the Chemin Neuf Community, visited the archeological part, they followed the “biblical journey” and even went through the small but interesting “biblical garden”. The group was able to pray in the “Chapel of Unity” and ended the day by meeting on the terrace of the Center, which offers to everyone a magnificent view of whole of Nazareth. The evaluation of the day was very positive, in the diversity of the different stages of the program. It was above all the “biblical journey”, with its large multimedia system, its songs and very appropriate sounds, that literally excited the admiration of everyone, and unveiled from a new angle the entire story of salvation. All the catechists are committed to returning with their catechism classes and also their schools in order to visit this Center.