altOn Saturday March 22, 2014, HCEF’s “Living Stones” Pilgrimage group from America, headed by Father Jacek Orzechowski, visited the Birzeit Senior Citizens Center to celebrate Mother’s Day with the elders.

On the special occasion, HCEF’s Birzeit Representative, Ms. Jamilah Aranki, was present to introduce the pilgrims to the Center and its many programs. During her introduction, she focused on the Center’s mission to care for the elders of Palestine, which includes mothers, grandmothers, and even great grandmothers. Ms. Aranki reflected on the essential role mothers play in all societies, but added that mothers in Palestine are of particularly great importance. Palestinian mothers are key to the preservation of Palestinian culture, tasked with imparting age-old traditions to their children.

altMs. Aranki also thanked Father Jacek and the American pilgrims for making the important trip to the Holy Land. On behalf of the Center and its members, she presented Father Jacek with an embroidery of the “Lord’s Prayer.”

Father Jacek was grateful for the welcome and the special gift, and took the opportunity to share some of his thoughts on the work of the Center and Mother’s Day. This was not his first trip to Palestine through HCEF’s  “Living Stone” pilgrimage, and over the course of his many trips he has seen the Center grow and continue its mission to honor and care for the elders of Palestine. As Ms. Aranki mentioned, he also said that the elderly women of the Center were mothers, not just to their own children, but to Palestine and to all who cherish the Holy Land. Father Jacek told everyone present to meditate on their mothers and consider how much our mothers have done for us.alt

Then he encouraged everyone to give back to their mothers in whatever ways they could, never forgetting their sacrifices. He pointed to the Center as an example of what it means to give back.

After Father Jacek’s moving talk, everyone gathered in celebration. Traditional Palestinian folk music was played, and the pilgrims and elders danced together.

The pilgrimage group also spent some time outside of the Center, visiting other elder members who were too sick to attend. During these visits Father Jacek, along with Father Louis Hazboun, Birzeit’s Parish Priest, blessed the homes of the sick and joined in prayer with the pilgrims on behalf of the elders. Before the day’s closing, the pilgrims distributed flowers to all the elders as a sign of gratitude for everything they’ve done in preserving the Holy Land’s traditions. BSCC staff also took flowers and presented them to mothers around the community.