BETHLEHEM – In the shadow of the separation wall, just in front of the icon of Our Lady who brings down walls, opens the portal of the monastery of the Benedictine Sisters of Emmanuel, who this weekend received all the volunteers who came to their help to ensure an exceptional harvest.
Built on land purchased in the 1960s, the Emmanuel Monastery in Bethlehem, incorporated into the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church, within the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, is an autonomous eastern monastery. Through their clothing, their celebrations and their prayers, the Sisters want to be as close as possible to their Orthodox Sisters in order to revive within the Greek Catholic Church the monastic traditions of the undivided Church.
The Chapel, which takes up the very expressive Orthodox iconography, here only composed of pastel tones, is one of the most beautiful and original in the Holy Land.
Now four in number, including 3 young French sisters, the Benedictine Sisters of Emmanuel have gradually transformed this land into a Garden of Eden, shaded by all kinds of fruit trees, including 110 olive trees.
Usually accommodating many guests, especially those who came as part of “the Bible on the Ground” (Bible Sur le Terrain) pilgrimages, the Sisters, fortunately very enterprising, can now only count on their agricultural and craft activities to meet their needs.
Radiant, they gladly welcome many activities of scout groups and every month French-speaking catechesis, which Sister Bénédicte has also taken care of with Father Olivier Catel.
It is therefore with great enthusiasm and spontaneity that many volunteers showed up on Friday to help them harvest the “green gold” from their garden, so important for their olive oil production, but also for the manufacture of their organic soaps and Saint Chrême.
Palestinian Scouts from De La Salle School in Bethlehem came to help them all Friday morning, then relayed by the chaplaincy of French-speaking high school students. On Saturday morning, while the children followed catechism, their parents and all the young French volunteers of the Catholic Delegation for the Cooperation (Délégation Catholique pour la Coopération) who came especially from Jerusalem, continued their work all day, then joined by the children, under the direction full of humor and energy of the Sisters.
Despite an exceptional supply of olives this year, the campaign ended a day ahead of schedule thanks to the zeal of the workers. Like all work in the fields, it traditionally ended around a dinner offered by the Sisters, in joy, friendship and thanksgiving.