By Vivien Laguette/ lpj.org and abouna.org
Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa blessed St. Rachel Center for Children on Thursday, November 10, 2016.
The new St. Rachel Center, which opened on September 1, 2016 2016, welcomes children of migrants, from the early months until the age of 12, and supports their healthy development. Its ultimate goal is to enable children to integrate into the Israeli society: learning the rhythm of life and teaching in Hebrew.
At the Center’s inauguration, several guests were present including Apostolic Nuncio to Israel Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Archbishop Antonio Franco and Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem William Shomali.
In his homily, Apostolic Administrator Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa stressed how “these children sitting in this court represent the Church we are called to be in all its diversity, Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, migrant workers and asylum seekers, with one heart and one soul.”
The children themselves animated the celebration with songs, with guitar and violin accompaniment. Archbishop Pizzaballa continued the blessing as he moved throughout the Center.
Father David Neuhaus, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics, coordinator of the pastoral care for migrants and asylum seekers in Israel and director of St. Rachel Center, expressed his gratitude to all the benefactors who have made this project a reality. In particular, he thanked the families, parents and children, for their confidence; and the staff and volunteers who work together in caring for the children who come to the Center every day.
St. Rachel Center was established in response to the to the daily needs of many families, and has successfully done so. “The waiting list is already long,” says Fr. David. ” It would take about a year to get a placement. It is our hope to expand the center in the future so that we can continue to welcome and serve those who are most in need.”