On Easter Sunday (23.3.2008), about 80 members of the different Hebrew-speaking Catholic communities in Israel – from Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheba and Tel Aviv – Jaffa – gathered together for a day of joy, of prayer and of unity in the convent of Kiryat Yearim.

The atmosphere was of one big family and there were representatives of all ages – from the youngest, at least three babies born since last Easter, to the oldest, among them some of the founders of the community. There were also a few young couples who have been married in the past few months. Some of those present were also celebrating Purim (which fell on the same day in Jerusalem this year).

Morning prayer, Easter 23.3.2008

The day began with morning prayer. Right from the start, we began singing songs of praise for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The Creator of the world and the Redeemer of humanity empties the tomb and it remains empty – a sign of our hope and our faith in life!

After the prayer, Michal, from the Jerusalem community, directed a testimony about the life of Father Gregor Pawlowski, the retired priest of Tel Aviv – Jaffa, who is celebrating 50 years since his ordination. This part began with a song in Yiddish, the language Gregor spoke as a child in the home of his parents in Poland. Michal told the story of the stormy early life of Gregor during the dark days of the Shoah and how he entered the seminary in Lublin after the war. Two friends – Stella from Haifa, who knew Gregor in Poland, and David, the Secretary-General – added words of testimony. Gregor has given us all an example of fidelity, love and courage and always with humor and simplicity.

Father Gregor

(You can read about Gregor on this site).

Last year, a tradition was initiated for Easter Sunday – a quiz. Those present divided into three groups and competed to resolve difficult questions from the Bible. The quiz was divided into three sections – about Purim, about the Passover sacrifice and about the readings from the Easter vigil. This time was spent with lots of laughter and we also learned Bible together… a special vocation of our communities.

The annual quiz

Lunch time was an occasion to sit and eat together and taste of the delicacies that each one had brought. More importantly, it was a time to get to know one another. During the year, we are separated by geographic distances but on Easter we form one community.

Our song leaders

After lunch, we gathered again in the church to rehearse the songs for the Eucharist. This year, thanks to Koinonia Giovanni Battista, there was a wonderful collaboration among the different communities for the music. Members of the Koinonia (Lioba, Sinead and Giacomo) sang and played together with Myriam from Haifa, Ruhama from Jerusalem and Pau from Beer Sheba.

Father Pierbattista at Easter mass

Father Pierbattista arrived in order to celebrate the Eucharist. He presided at the prayer and encouraged the members of the community to live as witnesses to life and joy in the society. In his homily, he spoke of the darkness in which Mary Magdalene went to the tomb… a darkness that might represent the problems we perceive in the world and the despair we feel. He spoke of the stone over the mouth of the tomb and asked how many of such stones block our own path to the beloved. Yet God rolls away the stones and gives us access…

We went home after this wonderful day together… until we meet next year… and each one had the traditional greeting on his and her lips: “He is indeed risen!”.


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