On Friday, February 15 and Saturday, February 16, 2013, twenty six families, representing the Hebrew speaking Catholic communities in Israel, met in Tiberias to continue their deliberations on family life and the transmission of our faith to our children.

Families representing all the Hebrew speaking Catholic kehillot gathered at Casa Nova in Tiberias, alongside the Saint Peter parish church. Here they were once again warmly welcomed by the community that animates the place, Koinonia John the Baptist. This time three families that had not participated in the past joined the group. Close to one hundred people (half adults and half children) participated in the meeting.

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Friday evening was consecrated to an initial introduction to the weekend. The adults met with Father David, Vicar of the Hebrew speaking communities, whilst the children began a weekend of activities animated by Kirill from the Vicariate community in Jerusalem, assisted by Lioba and Sinead from the Tiberias kehilla and five members of Desert Flower, the Vicariate youth group. After dinner, some watched a movie while others went out to stroll on the beautiful Tiberias promenade, along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. What was particularly impressive was the stunning rise of the water level after the winter rains, good news for the country.

Discussions began in earnest on Saturday morning. After morning prayer and breakfast, Father David launched the day of reflection for the parents. Needless to say, time at the beginning was devoted to the subject of the resignation of Pope Benedict. There were many questions and much thanksgiving for the wisdom, courage and humility of the Holy Father.

The main theme was the readings at Sunday mass. Since the last meeting, the families have been receiving the readings weekly. The whole day of discussions was consecrated to how to prepare with these readings for Sunday mass. The day was animated by three speakers: Father David gave a general introduction to the readings and some of the particular difficulties we have understanding the readings and preparing them with our children. In the second part of the morning, Michal, one of the mothers, gave a overview of how the readings are chosen and how they might be read. In the afternoon, Eitan, one of the fathers, gave an introduction to the Church’s practice of “lectio divina”, proposing a method that could be used in families with children. Throughout the day, there were opportunities to break into smaller groups and try out the methods proposed and discuss the themes.

While the adults pursued their program, Kirill and his assistants gathered the children. One main project was the production of colorful rosaries that the children proudly wore around their necks. There was time for games and a movie and at the end of the day the children put on a dance for the gathered parents. Friendships were initiated and strengthened. This was a foretaste of the children’s camp that will take place at Easter time.

At the end of the day, the families expressed their gratitude for the time together and a new date was fixed for the next meeting in December. The theme suggested for that meeting was how to live our faith. Three people offered to prepare something on the life of saints in the history of the faith in order to illuminate the issues.

The weekend ended with a joyful mass in the church, filled to capacity this Saturday evening during which the celebration was of the first Sunday of Lent. The mass was celebrated by Father David together with Father Sergey, responsible for the Russian speakers in the north.

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This was a wonderful way to start Lent together as we seek to grow in holiness as disciples of Christ.