We provide you with the latest updates on the state of our parish and parishioners in Gaza through a Phone conversation we conducted on Wednesday, October 11th, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. with Father Gabriel Romanelli, the parish priest of the Holy Family parish of Gaza.
Father, can you please inform us about your situation in Gaza?
Fr. Gabriel: I am not in Gaza right now; due to the situation I have not been able to return to our parish in Gaza. As you know there are only 1017 Christians living in Gaza. Many of them are currently being welcomed by the Church, particularly the residents of the Rimal area, which has been subjected to violent bombardment. I was informed that four of our Christian families have lost their homes, destroyed by the war. They are currently staying in the church building.
Does the parish have enough space to host those in need?
Fr. Gabriel: We have opened 3 of our spaces to receive the needy. There are currently more than 150 individuals staying in the church and monastery building. The second area is the Saint Thomas Aquinas Center, which currently hosts more than 30 individuals. The third area is the Holy Family School, which has welcomed another group of people. The religious sisters of the area (Sisters of the Incarnate Word, The Rosary sisters, and Sisters of Charity) have also been helping by serving and assisting the families to the best of their abilities.
Is there enough food and water supplies, as well as electricity power?
Fr. Gabriel: In fact, we are faced with a shortage. We are trying to divide the supplies among ourselves to sustain us as long as possible. Regarding the electricity situation, just like the rest of Gaza’s citizens, we have limited access to electricity throughout the day, it comes for a short period. Unfortunately, fuel is almost running out and there are speculations that there will be an electricity outage across the Gaza Strip. We do not have enough water, so we are using it wisely and mostly just for drinking. As everyone knows and sees through the news, due to the destruction and devastations left by the war, there are barely any supplies left, and they are mostly non-existent. Hence, we are not able to buy anything or meet the needs of the people.
We know that you have received a call from H.H. Pope Francis, could you please share with us his words to you?
Fr. Gabriel: Yes, His Holiness spoke to me and Fr. Joseph, the assistant priest of the parish, who is currently there in Gaza. Throughout the call, Pope Francis assured us of his support and urged us to not cease in lifting our prayers to God Almighty and to continuously offer help to those in need. He said he would do his best to put an end to this horrific war. This has renewed our hope and faith that this war will end soon and has encouraged the parishioners upon knowing that Pope Francis has kindly contacted us.
Dear Father Gabriel, do you have any last remarks you would like to share with us?
Father Gabriel: The outcome of War is devastating; hence it must come to an end quickly, in fact, it should stop, right now! The post-war deterioration in the health sector and other systems will have a significant impact on our normal lives, here in the strip. Not to mention the psychological effect, fear, and disorders this war will leave on the people of Gaza. Many will suffer! So, we ask everyone, and every official, to do their utmost efforts to stop this war immediately. We also ask the faithful, everywhere, to unite with us in prayer, and to join the kind appeal made by Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa to dedicate the next Tuesday to fasting, abstinence, and intercession to cry out to God to end this war and bring about peace.