Focus 2005

Bethlehem - MOR15-12-2005

Project: One $ for the oratory of Bethlehem
Date of foundation: 2005 (1891)
Place: Betlemme
Province: MOR

Dear Friends,
I am Fr. André Louis Haddad, a Salesian priest, ordained recently on 6th August 2005. At present I am at the Salesian Convent, Bethlehem, in charge of the pastoral activity of the school as well as the director of the oratory (Youth Centre). Our presence over here has been a strong support to the local people, first as an orphanage till 1989, the legacy has been continued even to this day with a Technical school and a Youth Centre, with its 437 members comprising of young boys and girls, young university students, past-pupils. The youth centre is open to both Christians and Muslims, which has been a source of inter religious dialogue and a sign of collaboration for a peaceful living in a society disfigured by hatred and war. Apart from these we also have a bakery that reaches out to more than 250 families by the daily free distribution of bread.

At present, Bethlehem has approximately 37 thousand inhabitants of which 65% are Muslims and 35% are Christians of various denominations. Due to the recent “intifada” in the zone, many Christian families (approx. 75) have left for abroad in order to live a better and peaceful life elsewhere. On their departure they carry the minimum of their necessary belongings. Unemployment and the unstable political situation in Bethlehem has greatly affected the lives of many young people, who often roam about in the streets without anything to do. There are a few Islamic fundamentalists who try to take advantage of the situation by eloping with young Christian girls causing grave social problem.

In such situations our presence as Salesians demands a serious educative and pastoral plan in order to give hope to these people, in the various dimensions of their growth, may it be religious or sportive or social or cultural. Following the strenna of the Rector Major for the year 2006, we intend to create an environment of the family spirit that prevailed in the first oratory at Valdocco around Don Bosco and Mamma Margherita. In order to create such an environment to attract the youth we must furnish the oratory with the necessary equipments especially in the sports section which gives impetus to the pastoral activities. Our basketball team is one of the “Series A” teams in Palestine and we are due to begin our tournaments in December. As for the cultural and intellectual formation we need to furnish our small library with new volumes, the same is true regarding the musical band, that needs new musical instruments. As for the religious and spiritual formation of our youth we try to utilize the important moments of the year such as Advent, Christmas, Lent and the Easter. This year as a preparation for the Christmas we are staging a short play in Arabic.

The slogan “One $ for the oratory of Bethlehem” is indeed a practical way to show our solidarity with the poor young people of Bethlehem. I dedicate all my time and energy for them and for the rest I depend on divine providence that often comes through the many charitable persons like you. Hence I humbly request you to open your heart and hands towards these poor young people. I assure you in return that they will certainly pray for you, as I always invite them to pray for our benefactors. On their behalf I thank you in anticipation for your generosity towards the Salesian Youth Centre (Oratory) of Bethlehem.

I assure you my sincere prayers from this very birth place of Our Saviour. I wish you a fruitful preparation for Advent and for Christmas 2005.

With cordial greetings, yours sincerely,

Tel: +97222742421, Cell: 00972544689198
Fax: +97222747162
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