May 21, 2018 – HCEF President and CEO, Sir Rateb Rabie, visited Boston on May 16-19. During his visit, he began the development of several projects as a way for HCEF to further its mission in support of Palestinian Christians and to replace despair with hope, fear with human security, and humiliation with dignity.
On May 17, Sir Rateb joined Johnny Hazboun, Open Bethlehem Board member, to launch the HCEF Open Bethlehem Campaign with a screening of the Open Bethlehem documentary. Produced by Leila Sansour, Open Bethlehem Founder and Chief Executive, the film chronicles life in the city where Christ was born. The documentary concentrates on the years since its separation wall was first constructed, cutting off Bethlehem from Jerusalem and adding to the hardship of its citizens. HCEF and Open Bethlehem plan to continue collaborating on projects that raise awareness of the crisis in Bethlehem, symbolic of all of Palestine, through film screenings and other initiatives.
While in Boston, Sir Rateb also met with local pilgrims who recently returned from the Holy Land. After interacting with the Living Stones, the pilgrims were inspired to form an HCEF outreach committee to assist HCEF with advocacy and support for the Palestinian Christians. The meeting was hosted by HCEF Board member and pilgrimage leader, Father John Predmore S.J., at Boston College High School, where Father serves as the Chaplain to school staff, faculty, parents, and alumni. Two pilgrims agreed to serve as co-chairs and launch the work of the new HCEF outreach committee in Boston: Ms. Jeanne Bruno, Coordinator of Pastoral Outreach at Saint Cecilia Parish in downtown Boston, and Ms. Ellen O’Donnell, an attorney and lector at her parish of St. John the Evangelist in Beverly, MA, and a Eucharistic Minister at Beverly Hospital. The first organizational meeting for this new committee is planned for June, with specific details to follow. All past HCEF pilgrims and other friends of HCEF living near Boston are cordially invited to attend. HCEF Pilgrimage Manager Andrew Griswold and Professor Michael James of Boston College will also support and participate in the work of the new committee.
Sir Rateb, Father John, Ms. Bruno, and Ms. O’Donnell discussed how the new Boston Committee can promote the work of HCEF: educational forums at local parishes and assistance to the HCEF Social Development and Cultural Center in Birzeit. The Committee will further its ideas and planning as it organizes and develops over the next few months. The committee hopes to provide local friends of HCEF, including all who have returned energized from their pilgrimage experience, with the means to put their faith into action by continuing their solidarity with and support for Christians in the Holy Land.
Sir Rateb also met with several “BC High” faculty and staff. He introduced them to the situation of the Palestinian Christians and the mission of HCEF, as well as discussed methods for educating the students about the Palestinian Christians who first followed Jesus Christ. All parties agreed to develop new programs to assist the HCEF mission.
Sir Rateb and Father Predmore finalized plans for a new pilgrimage from Boston in November of this year, which will be led by Father Predmore. Pilgrims will depart for the Holy Land on Monday, November 5, and return on Friday, November 16. More information and registration details for this pilgrimage will be available soon at www.hcef.org or www.holylandtpours.ps, or by inquiries to HCEF Pilgrimage Manager Andrew Griswold at email@example.com, (617) 771-4039.