1) When and how did you get to the Holy Land? Why have you decided to dedicate this time of your life to the local Church? What is your motivation?
We moved to Jerusalem in February 2014, accepting the invitation from His Beatitude Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, and Bishop William Shomali, to join the LPJ on its mission to love and to serve the Mother Church and the Christians of the Holy Land.
We have been traveling to the Holy Land for the last five years, and after deep and “in loco” understanding the mission of the Catholic Church in the Middle East, as well as their true needs and challenges; we decided to devote some years of our lives to volunteer service to the Church and to the Christian communities. Our main motivation has always been service to others and charitable spirit. Due to the nature of our professional lives, we had to change countries and cultures several times, but we always allowed time for our volunteer work, and to provide assistance to institutions and individuals requiring our support.
During this time of great need for the Church, we received an important spiritual call, and decided to leave behind, our country, our lives, families, friends, material possessions; in favor of true happiness, which for us has been, to love and serve the Church and our most needy fellow Christians.
2) What is your mission?
Our mission is to serve the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and its projects and needs in the Holy Land.
In 2014 we have three lines of work in our mission:
a) We work together with the media department of the LPJ, with translations for the webpage and documents in Spanish and Portuguese.
b) This year we are also dedicated to the projects of the Taybeh Parish, in Palestine. Recently, we successfully completed the first project that was the “Ecumenical Summer Camp”, in which we had both the privilege of sponsoring and working on. This project directly benefited 264 children and 70 leaders (even during the war in Gaza) they enjoyed four weeks of intense cultural, sports and leisure activities. This year, we still have two more projects to go: the reform of an old typical Palestinian house-museum (House of Parable) and the Youth Center of the parish; both benefiting the pilgrims as well as the parishioners. In addition to the projects, we also work at the Elderly Home of Beit Afram, and at the parish with Fr. Aziz Halawe, in routine activities, such as welcoming groups of pilgrims who come to Taybeh, sharing with them the story of the village, the Christian situation in Palestine and the importance of helping the communities in need.
c) In our free time, we try to put on our agenda, the visit to parishes that we have not been before, the hospitals and homes for disabled children, as the Sisters of the Incarnate Word in Bethlehem, Mother Teresa of Calcutta in Nablus, among others.
3) How does your mission relate to the Order of the Holy Sepulcher?
As Knight and Lady of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, we carry with us a great weight and responsibility to support the Holy Land, as the main objective of the Order is to serve, protect, maintain, and support the projects and works of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Christian community.
We have traveled through Jordan, Israel and Palestine in recent years, and had the privilege to visit many parishes and to learn the great and often heroic work that our priests are displaying, often facing many difficulties and challenges. Throughout this period, we had the joy and grace of supporting some initiatives in Kerak and Ader in Jordan and Beit Sahour in Palestine.
Our divine call is to work in the Holy Land, offering our professional and personal experiences, at the service of Mother Church.
4) The situation in the country is difficult and complicated. How one can help the Christians of the Holy Land?
The Christians in the Holy Land this year are facing and living a really hard time with the War in Gaza, and the terrible persecution of our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Syria, and many other places. We believe that in a time of so much trouble, desolation and despair; the most important thing is to show the Christians that they are not alone, and that we are here to help, support accompany and to love them.
We started a small and private campaign to support families of Gaza in our countries of origin, and luckily we were able to get some help to them. We also maintain regular visits until today to St. Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem, where some of the most severe victims are still in treatment. The visitation of patients is of great importance, extending a helping hand or a hug of affection and solidarity to those who are suffering in a hospital bed.
We believe in the great power of prayer and faith. This is a time when Christians around the world must unite in prayer for the Holy Land, and particularly for the helpless victims of war and persecution. In addition to the prayers, it is necessary more than ever, that the international Christian community joins efforts to firmly help the less than 2% Christians left in the Holy Land, through reconstruction, social, humanitarian, housing and educational projects; maintaining and supporting the Church in the land where our Lord Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and resurrected for us all.