On Tuesday, September 12, 2023, at St. Anthony’s center in Nazareth, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa attended a celebration in honor of the 100th Salesian presence in the Holy Land, which was organized by the Annunciation Family Club. Among the assembly was Patriarchal Vicar of Israel Monsignor Rafiq Nahra, in addition to Monsignor Yussef Matta, archbishop of St John of Acre, Haifa, Nazareth, and the whole of Galilee for the Melkite Greek Catholics, as well as several priests.
Mr. Rimon Mansour, the president of the Annunciation Family Club, welcomed the attendees and presented a brief introduction about the achievements and initiatives of the club, which was established 30 years ago. He congratulated the Salesians on their success and the unique fingerprint they left on the Church and the Holy land in the past 100 years.
A documentary film about the basilica of Jesus Adolescent, produced by the Christian Media Center (CMC) was also screened. It showed the Church’s mission, and the Salesian’s spiritually of Jesus Adolescent: a living example for young people today that focuses on the virtues of Christ (service, purity, simplicity, respect, and humility). The design and construction process of the basilica were explained too.
It was followed by a dialogue between Mr. Fahmy Farah and Fr. Munir Al-Raei, superior of the Salesians in Nazareth, during which he shared his love for Don Bosco and expressed his desire for an increase in the number of vocations received by the Salesians. He also presented an overview of the life of Saint Don Bosco, the global spread of the Charismatic Identity of the Salesian Family, and the challenges facing the city of Nazareth today, on a social and spiritual level.
Ms. Janan Abdo and Mr. Ibrahim Andrea expressed their love for the Don Bosco School, which they graduated from, during a section titled “The Salesian School between the past and present”. In addition to other testimonies and personal experiences shared by locals.
Mr. Hassan Ali, vice-president of the local council of Ilut, talked about the historical exile of the people of the village of Ilut to the Salesian Monastery in 1948. He also gave a book titled, “Ilut” to Fr. Munir.
Then, Monsignor Pizzaballa gave a speech where he expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the Salesian presence in the Holy Land, saying, “We heard about the rich history of the Salesians. Between the 19th C.E and beginning of the 20th, the religious communities experienced a period of prosperity in the Holy Land, which contributed to the relief of many people. But, I want to use this occasion to remind you that we should not only be proud of the past, but work for the future of our youth, I urge the Salesians to continue their mission by listening to the needs of the youth as they are currently faced with many difficulties and challenges.” He concluded his address by expressing his reliance and trust on the Salesians to minister to the youth of the diocese.
To conclude the celebration, the prayer for Jesus the Adolescent was recited and Monsignor Pizzaballa gave the final blessing to those present.