On April 12, 2009, representatives of all the Hebrew and Russian speaking Catholic communities, about 120 people, gathered in the Church of Our Lady Ark of the Covenant in Kiryat Yearim to celebrate Easter together.


On a beautiful spring day, representatives from all the communities of the Vicariate - from Haifa and from Tiberius in the north, from Jerusalem and from Tel Aviv in the center and from Beer Sheba in the south - came together in the compound of the convent of Mary Ark of the Covenant in Kiryat Yearim that overlooks Abu Ghosh. Once again we could enjoy together a whole day in the gardens of the convent and in the church. All ages - from babies a few months old to the veterans over eighty - and from diverse origins and languages, we could give a live expression to what the Hebrew speaking Catholic Vicariate in Israel is today.

 

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The day began with a repetition of Easter songs that would accompany the day. The music directors from the communities of Jerusalem and Haifa consecrated themselves to the preparation and the results were deeply moving. A special thanks to Sinead and Lioba from Jerusalem and to Miriam, Olga, Luda and Lena from Haifa. Father David, the Vicar for the communities, celebrated the festive mass and with him the concelebrants were the priests of the Vicariate, those responsible for the communities and the members of the presbyteral council. Roman Kaminski served as deacon (and in two weeks he will become another of the priests in the Vicariate) and he read the Gospel in Hebrew and in Russian.

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In his homily, Father David underlined one of the central themes of both the feast and our lives - joy. He exhorted the members of the communities to adopt joy as the challenge of our day to day lives. We must build communities built on faith in a God who is victorious over death in his beloved son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Because of this victory we are not permitted to despair even when life is not simple, full of problems both personal and social. Our witness is our joy due to the resurrection. The tomb is empty and thus we know that an end has come to darkness, tribulation, suffering, death and sin. This is also the greatest gift we can give our country and the society in which we live - the gift of joy that expresses both faith and hope that are contained in the resurrection. We must build communities that encourage and support their members so that each one can give a testimony of joy.

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After the mass which indeed turned into an expression of the joy of the community in the resurrection of Jesus, we took a prolonged time to eat outside. Groups sat together sharing the great variety of plentiful food that people had brought.

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In the afternoon hours the youngsters worked with Michal and with Sergei on a short play that was integrated into the final prayer. The less young divided into discussion groups and faced the challenge of getting to know one another better. We tried in the time allotted to allow each person to present him or herself and to describe the importance of the resurrection in each one's life.

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The day ended with a thanksgiving prayer which included the play of the children - the discovery of the empty tomb. As always, the presence of the children was essential because it expresses the continuity of our communities. Roman directed the prayer which also included the thanksgiving and personal prayer of three members, each one representing a different generation in the community. Each one of the three shared a personal reflection on the meaning of the feast. At the end we sang and prayed and expressed our thanks to God and to each one present for this day of great joy! He is indeed risen! Halleluia!