Habib, from the Beer Sheba kehilla, reports on the meeting of the youth from the Desert Flower group that took place in Jaffa on March 17 and 18, 2017.

On Friday and Saturday, 18 members of Desert Flower gathered in the Saint Peter’s monastery in Jaffa. The meeting opened with a very short meeting in which each one told of their experiences over the past month. In addition, we welcomed two new members to the group.

In the evening, we had a meeting with an Iraqi priest who serves as the parish priest of the Latin Arabic speaking community in Jaffa and as the director of Terra Santa School in Jaffa, who had formerly served in Syria. He told us about himself and his life in Syria during the war, about the difficulties of living without basic comforts and under the perpetual threat of war. Finally, he told us about the faith life of those for whom he was responsible and how his experience strengthened his faith in God. The meeting with him was amazing but also a little sad as we understood in what kind of reality our brothers and sisters live in Syria. At the end we prayed the “Our Father” and thus ended the encounter with him.

In the evening, we watched the movie “Belle and Sebastian”, a film that tells the story of a boy who lived in France during the Second World War, in the year 1943, who befriends a wild dog whom he names Belle, despite the fact that those around him tell him to stay away from the dog because it would harm him. During the film, everyone eventually accepts the dog and it becomes part of the family and in the end the family also helps a Jewish family to escape and cross the border to Switzerland. At the end of the movie, we went to bed and those who wanted to could continue to talk on a one to one basis.

Saturday began with morning prayer, prepared by Sinead, and breakfast. After the meal, we had a short meeting with emeritus Cardinal Archbishop of Cracow, who had been the personal secretary of Pope John Paul II for 39 years. At the end of the meeting, he gave us his blessing.

A little later, we went to teach the children in Saint Anthony about Holy Thursday and we divided up into pairs, each pair taking two children in order to talk to them about what happened to Jesus on this day. Before this, we had had a meeting with Father Apolinary, who had told us what to say. At the end, we played a small game with the children and that brought the lesson to a close.

We returned to the monastery and prepared lunch. After that we went out for a short walk along the promenade. We then had a meeting with Salma, in which we divided up into two groups and we had to respond to trivia questions relating to the movie we had watched, In the second part, we had a meeting with Habib and discussed all the times that there was a show of courage during the film. We also had to share when we have shown courage and when we did not in our own lives. The discussion was fascinating and during it there were disagreements among those present about the different ways to show courage, when it is good to be courageous and when it is wiser to ignore what is happening.

Finally, we had a meeting with Daniel. We divided up into three groups and each group was told to prepare a meeting with a group of youth from overseas. Before the beginning of the discussion, Daniel had instructed Father Piotr and two others, one in each group, to do everything to interfere with the discussion. At the end, we all gathered and Daniel asked how the discussion had gone and everyone responded that it had been very difficult to plan something when there were those who disturbed the discussion and did not listen. Daniel then said that this is exactly how the counselors feel with the members of the group. This was an excellent way to drive home the point that it is difficult to prepare our meetings when we ignore the counselors.

With that, we ended the meeting and bade each other farewell as each one returned home. The meeting was very interesting. Thanks to all the counselors who prepared the activities, to the monastery that received us. We are waiting impatiently for the next meeting.