The Roman Catholic diocese in the Holy Land is known as the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (LPJ). It includes Israel, Jordan and Palestine. We’ve been sending Christmas cards to parishes there for more than 10 years and the people really appreciate receiving them. One of their priests said: ‘This is a beautiful act of solidarity.’
I was surprised that Jordan is part of the Holy Land until I remembered that the ‘Holy Land’ includes the lands of the Bible. Jordan has 19 Catholic parishes which offer welcome to Christians fleeing war in Syria and Iraq. During a recent meeting with clergy in the Latin patriarchate, Father Mark Madden was told that while some parishes receive hundreds of cards, others don’t get any, so he was asked if we could arrange for all the parishes to have some. In response, we’ve changed the way we organise them.
Instead of every parish deciding who to write to, we’ve asked the parishes that regularly send cards to be paired with a parish in the Holy Land. This means that each parish will only send cards to a specific parish in the Latin Patriarchate. Ideally, all our parishes would be part of this scheme. If you’d like your parish to be involved, contact the J&P office on 0151 522 1080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, our schools send cards to LPJ schools and by Easter 2020 we hope to have the same pairing system in place for schools. Because it takes a while for cards to reach their destination, it’s good to get organised as early as possible. It really is a case of ‘post early for Christmas’.
‘I wholeheartedly endorse the Diocesan Holy Land Christmas Card campaign and I would encourage our parishes and Justice and Peace groups to send Christmas cards to our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. On my visits to the Holy Land people often remark how supported they feel when they receive a Christmas card from our diocese, and I believe it to be a real sign of our solidarity with those who live there. It’s also a promise of our prayers for them at Christmas, and this means so much to them.’
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
‘Thank you for your concern about the situation here. Believe me, it is a really difficult situation. About the Christmas cards, I must confess to you that it is a personal joy for me and for my parish to receive every year your cards. It is a joy to know that many people are concerned about our situation. So I ask you, if it is possible, to continue to send the cards.’
Fr Mario da Silva IVE, parish priest at Holy Family, Gaza