JORDAN – From September 8- 13, 2019, the Grand Magisterium’s Holy Land Commission visited several Latin Patriarchate parishes, schools and Christian aid organizations all over Jordan. The 5-day visit included, among others, meetings with parish priests, school principals, students and LPJ Offices employees.
Following their visit to parishes in Israel and Palestine last March, the new members of the commission, Prof. Bart McGettrick, Dr. Detlef Brummer and Mrs. Cynthia Monahan, along with former HLC president Mr. Thomas Mckiernan, had the opportunity to observe ongoing projects in the diocese’s parishes in Jordan.
The first part of the program comprised a review of the current position of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Jordan, which was presented by Mr. Sami El-Yousef, Chief Executive Officer of LPJ, and Deacon Jubran Salameh. Visits then took place in St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Jubeiha and Martyrs of Jordan Parish in Marj Alhamam. In the first parish, a new church is under construction and expected to be completed in February 2020. Once completed, the church will be able to serve approximately 2700 faithful. In Marj Alhamam on the other hand, the recently completed church now offers spacious prayer and activities facilities.
Our Lady of Peace Center was the next destination. The delegation listened attentively to Fr. Shawki Batarian talking about the daily work of the center. They eventually shared a meal with the Christian Iraqi refugees working there, which Mr. Sami describes as “a great opportunity to listen to their heartbreaking stories as there were forced out and left with nothing and are currently in transit in Jordan looking for a new home.”
The next day the delegation met with Fr. Farah Bader, Parish priest of Our Lady of Carmel in Jabal Al-Hashimi, where a new kindergarten was built with funding from the Order and inaugurated in March 2019, and had the chance to interact with the school and kindergarten children. This visit was followed by meetings with Bishop William Shomali, Latin Patriarchal Vicar in Jordan, as well as LPJ schools’ principals of the Amman district. The day was highlighted with a Rosary Prayer at Mary of Nazareth Church in Sweifieh, where a crowd of 2000 people participated in a candlelight ceremony carrying the statue of the Virgin on the premises of the parish.
Day four was devoted to visiting “Mary, Mother of the Church” Parish in Marka as well as North and South Zarka parishes and schools. Meetings were also held with school principals of Ajloun, Anjara, Mafraq and Wahadneh, while on the 5th day of the visit, the members met with the school principals of Madaba, Karak, Wassieh, Ader and Smakieh.
To get a comprehensive view of the Church and its work in Jordan, the delegation met with Msgr. Mauro Lalli, from the the Apostolic Nunciature in Amman, and representatives of Caritas Jordan including its director Wael Suleiman.
In Madaba, the delegation was welcomed in “Beheading of St. John the Baptist” Parish by Fr. Firas Aridah, the youth and a scout performance. Afterwards, the members of HLC spoke with some of the youth about their daily lives, hopes and challenges.
In the last day, Mr. Sami and Deacon Jubran reviewed the progress of the 2018/ 2019 LPJ projects and touched upon the ones for 2020 that will be supported by the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. They also reviewed the existing procedures and suggested introducing some improvements.
The delegation members attended Holy Mass in Tla’ Al ‘Ali Parish at the end of their visit, after which they took part in a procession that amassed 1,200 faithful in celebration of Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The evening was followed by dinner at the parish along with members of the Jordan Chapter of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.