With the support of the ecumenical community in Phoenix, Arizona the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation concluded a successful trip to Phoenix! The weekend of Friday, March 30, 2012, Rateb Rabie, KCHS, President and CEO, HCEF and Dr. Hugh Dempsey, KM OB, KMS, Vice President, HCEF traveled to Arizona to give educational presentations about the Living Stones to bring increased awareness to the Phoenix area about the Arab Christians in the Holy Land!

(Front left to right: Sir Rateb Rabie, KCHS, President/CEO HCEF; HE Bishop Thomas Olmstead, Bishop of Phoenix, AZ, Abla Najjar and Michael Bradley, Co-Chairs, HCEF Committee, Phoenix). HE Bishop Thomas Olmstead, Bishop of Phoenix and Rev. Michael Diskin, Diocesan Ecumenical Officer, Diocese of Phoenix, met with Sir Rabie and Dr. Dempsey Friday morning to discuss the importance of preserving the Arab Christian presence in the Holy Land and other ways in which the Diocese of Phoenix could be of support to the Faithful.   Following their meeting, a reception was hosted at the Phoenix Catholic Diocesan Center, which included Bishop Olmstead, priests, laity, community leaders, representatives of Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, Father Joe Schwab, OFM, Director of the Franciscan Renewal Center and journalists from the Phoenix area.

Bishop Olmstead gave his blessing for the HCEF Committee to continue their efforts for advocacy within the Diocese through educational and practical programs aimed to support the Christians of the Holy Land, as well as the support for peace and understanding initiatives developed in support of the Holy Land Christians.

HCEFvolunteers Abla Najjar and Mike Bradley willingly took on the leadership role of this committee and they worked diligently to organize and arrange all of the presentations and events hosted in support of the Christians of the Holy Land.  With the support of several other individuals in the Phoenix area, Abla and Mike will be Co-chairs of this committee

The Living Stones, Witnesses of Christ in the Holy Land’ presentationwas also given at the Franciscan Renewal Center (Scottsdale)and the Mount Claret Retreat Center (Phoenix) as participants  learned more about the Holy Land Christians and how they can help to ameliorate their oppressive living conditions. Sir Rateb expressed his delight in seeing the support and willingness of people to help the Faithful to know they are not alone.  “In my experience, when people are informed about what is going on and when they are shown how they can help, they jump right in and get started,” said Sir Rabie, “knowing this is inspiring and brings me much encouragement.”

Sunday was just as inspiring as they participated in the Palm Sunday service at Pinnacle Presbyterian Church in Scottsdale, AZ.   Representatives from Pinnacle also discussed various business ventures in support of job creation in the Holy Land, and as a result, one member from Pinnacle will be accompanying Sir Rabie to the Holy Land to provide customer service training support.

The weekend also included a presentation at Arizona State University where Sir Rabie and Dr. Dempsey were welcomed by previous delegates of the 2011 HCEF Know Thy Heritage Program and other prospective delegates for theupcoming 2012 Know Thy Heritage Leadership Program.

Sir Rabie extended an invitation for others in Arizona to join the Phoenix HCEF Committee and urges those around the country to support the Holy Land Christians by joining or starting an HCEF Committee in their respective cities to advance the mission of HCEF in replacing despair with hope, fear with security and humiliation with human dignity!