The sixth anniversary of anything is usually referred to as “candy anniversary” or “iron anniversary”: “candy” because it is tempered by something sweet to obviate hard or bitter experiences along the way;

“iron” because after a couple of years, one finds oneself obtaining certain strength and firmness after a test of time. And both of these hold true, I believe, to the Holy Family Filipino Community of Nazareth/Afula!

On 30th December 2017 in the afternoon, when the Municipality of the City of Nazareth sponsored a Christmas Parade in its City Centre, our HFFCN also celebrated in the evening its 6th Anniversary at Saint Joseph’s Shrine in Nazareth. Presided by the Priest-In-Charge of the Divine Mercy Filipino Catholic Community in Tel-Aviv, Fr. Michael Grospe, who is at the same time the Director of the Pastoral Center Our Lady Woman of Valor, the thanksgiving Mass in honor of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph of Nazareth was celebrated. There were around 130 faithful participants, from our very own HFFCN Community coordinated by Geneviève Zohair, from our friends in Nazareth and from Filipino community members from Tiberias, led by the Benedictine Sisters of Tabgha, and, of course, the big contingent from Tel Aviv, who served as our choir and one of the readers. Only Fr. John Kennedy of the Don Guanella Community of Nazareth, who helps the Commmunity when I am out, and I could concelebrate.

After the lively celebration at the Shrine, we moved to the Beit Assalam of the contemplative Brothers of Charity of Mother Teresa near the Casa Nova of Nazareth, where we offered a simple meal, prepared by many of our Community members  themselves. Unfortunately, the Tel Aviv guests had to leave right after dinner because some of them had to report for work that very same night. We are very grateful to Fr. Michael and Sr. Lerma, and the rest of the group, for the spirit of outreach to smaller communities like us at this side of the Land. Equally thankful are we to the Benedictine Sisters of Tabgha, who have always attended our anniversary affairs.

Once the Tel Aviv guests had gone, we went down to the hall under the house of the said Brothers. Here we had a short program, composed of songs, dances, parlor games, and the much-awaited drawing of raffle prizes. In the course of the celebration, Sr. Elena, who had animated the Community for some years in its beginnings, was feted and thanked for her service to it.

As the Saturday night Rosary Procession at the Basilica ended, we also ended our 6th Anniversary celebrations at Beit Assalam. We pray and hope that new bonds have been strengthened to be of solidarity with one another in living out one’s faith commitment to the Lord in the context of this Land. We are grateful also to the Brothers of Charity, especially to Fr Jean-Marie, their Superior, for the use of their facilities for the reception and program and for letting two of their Brothers serve at Mass.