Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa is currently paying a 4-day visit to the parishioners of the Holy Family in Gaza. This is his first visit to Gaza Strip following the conflagration which broke out there recently. During the visit, the Patriarch will forward the donations presented by the parishioners in Palestine and Jordan to the badly affected families.
During the visit, he is accompanied by Latin Patriarchal Vicar Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Fr. Firas Abedrabbo, and Chief Executive Officer of the Latin Patriarchate Mr. Sami El-Yousef.
Upon arrival, Patriarch Pizzaballa was welcomed by parish priest Fr. Gabriel Romanelli, the Argentinian-born priest of the Incarnate Word who heads the parish of the Holy Family in Gaza.
On the first day of the visit, Patriarch Pizzaballa inspected the Latin Patriarchate School located in the Zeitoun neighborhood, the House of the Sisters of Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa's Sisters), and the Rosary Sisters School. His also held a meeting with the beneficiaries of the Job Creation Program that employs over 70 young people.
Commenting on the first day of the visit, Mr. El-Yousef said, "The buildings in the Gaza Strip were very badly damaged, but what is worse is what the people relate with regards to the recent events. They state that the cycles of violence must stop, and that the people of Gaza deserve to be treated with dignity like the other peoples everywhere else. It is important to keep praying for Gaza and its people."
On Monday, June 14, Patriarch Pizzaballa inspected the damage inflicted on the Rosary Sisters School in Gaza during the last round of conflagration.
In a statement to journalists following the visit to the school, Patriarch Pizzaballa said, “This time the war was very difficult. Unfortunately, we do not have the power to stop all this." He added: "This is a school. We don't have bombs here. It is a place to learn how to speak, how to write, and how to think. Nobody can stop us from learning. This is a place to persevere."
He continued, "I understand that we have children whose future is our concern. We must persevere in an effective way by having faith that everything will change for the better." He stressed that "despite everything, we will reopen the school at the beginning of the next scholastic year with firm determination that will not fade.”
On the other hand, Patriarch Pizzaballa appealed on May 30 for help on behalf of Christians living in the Gaza Strip affected by the recent conflagration.
The appeal went to all parishes and churches in the Diocese of the Latin Patriarchate to devolve the collection of Sunday, May 30, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity in a sign of solidarity with the Christian community in Gaza.
The patriarch said that the money raised would be used to meet the needs that “emerged after the war”. He pointed out: “In the aftermath of the tension and conflict we have recently experienced, let us turn our hearts and gaze to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially in Gaza and in places severely affected by the recent exchange of rocket firing for eleven days.”
He added, “Their sufferings have worsened with the deadly clashes and bombings as they continue to struggle with COVID-19 that continues to spread in their area. I ask you to share some of your resources to alleviate the sufferings of our Christian faithful in Gaza.”
Fr. Romanelli said that the spiritual and economic support for the Christian community in the Holy Land is important through prayers and sacrifices, so that we can continue to bear witness with hope, serenity and joy.”