This Lent season, Patriarch Fouad Twal toured the Palestinian town of Birzeit and made a special stop at HCEF’s Birzeit Senior Citizen Center (BSCC). BSCC has a longstanding relationship with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which has played a key role in the Center’s development since its inception in 2005. Not only has the Patriarchate provided HCEF with a space to care for elders from the local community, but it has also provided spiritual guidance and care to both the Center’s workers and its elder members. HCEF and the citizens of Birzeit are profoundly grateful for the Patriarchate’s generous support.
In recognition of this support, BSCC honored Patriarch Twal during his visit with a very special gift. HCEF’s Birzeit Representative, Jamilah Aranke, read a poem she wrote especially for him, entitled “Our Beloved Patriarch.” The poem highlighted the Patriarch’s achievements on institutional and spiritual levels, and expressed gratitude for his support and embrace of the Center over the years, which has been a sustained source of inspiration and encouragement.
Patriarch Twal expressed his deep gratitude for the poem, presented to him in a wooden frame after the reading. He blessed BSCC and its elders and praised HCEF for what it has accomplished through the Center. He recognized the Center as a bridge between elders and the community since it gives elders the opportunity to share their stories with others, stories that together shape the Palestinian story. The Patriarch also noted that HCEF’s role compliments the work of the church, and that together they are better equipped to achieve their shared mission, which is to support Palestine and its Christians in the spirit of Christ’s love.
Eng. Anthony Habash, HCEF’s Regional Director, spoke briefly at the occasion about the Center’s history and its importance to the local community and Palestine as a whole. “The preservation of a people’s heritage and identity depends greatly on the care of its elders. The elders bear this identity in their hearts and can pass it on to younger generations. BSCC has cared for the elders of this community, and through its mission has connected them with the youth of Palestine, ensuring that a sense of Palestine’s traditions and values remains strong in future generations.” Habash also welcomed HCEF’s guest and supporter, Mr. Frank Shea, President of Alpha Group Investigations. Mr. Shea travelled from New York City to see the good work of HCEF firsthand and to provide support to the Christians of the Holy Land. In honor of this, he was presented embroidery of the Lord’s Prayer handmade by an elder of Birzeit.
Afterwards, the guests and elders joined together for a meal and lively discussions. Habash took this time to introduce the Patriarch to the Center’s programs and discuss future plans to support the elders of Palestine.
Also in attendance for the Patriarch’s visit were Father George Ayoub, Latin Patriarchate Secretary; Father Louis Hazboun, Birzeit Parish Priest; as well as BSCC staff and elder members.
If you would like to learn more about the Birzeit Senior Citizen Center, or any of HCEF’s other programs, please visit us at http://www.hcef.org
You can also contact HCEF’s Regional Director, Eng. Anthony Habash, with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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