Every year, the bishops and priests in the Holy Land gather for days of prayer in Arabic. This year these days took place from July 4 to 8, 2016, directed by Father Rafic, responsible for the Jerusalem kehilla.

From the morning of Monday, July 4 and until the afternoon of July 7, the annual retreat of the Arabic speaking priests and heads of Catholic Churches in the Holy Land took place in Domus Galilee (near the Mount of Beatitudes, at Korazim). Each year a priest is invited to preach the retreat and this year the request was directed to Father Rafic, responsible for the Hebrew speaking kehilla in Jerusalem. He proposed a retreat focused on the theme “Walking together with Pope Francis”. Indeed many texts of the current Pope have been published in recent years, some of them in books and homilies dating back to the time before he was Pope and the rest being Church documents from the period after his election. These texts provide much rich material for Christians and especially the pastors of the Church to meditate on. During the retreat there were nine meetings with lectures and times for discussion and sharing on the Word of God. The themes of the meetings were: prayer, the joy of the Gospel, the mission of the Church today, Christ invites us to repent, the mercy of God, acts of love and mercy, and faith, hope and love in the life of the pastor. The goal of the retreat was not only to listen to lectures but also to meet together, to pray and to celebrate mass each day, Latin, Greek Catholic, Maronite and Syrian Catholic priests, all together. There was also time to exchange news and to strengthen the links of friendship among the participants.

On Thursday, July 7, we all celebrated together the 50th jubilee of the priestly ordination of Patriarch Fouad Twal. During these days, as he prepares to retire, this was also an occasion to thank him for his long and faithful service as priest and bishop. Thanks be to God who preserves His Church, who feeds her and strengthens her in love and fidelity always.