Day One of the Holy Land Co-ordination saw the bishops visit the small Palestinian territory of Gaza. Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, South Africa, tells us how the group celebrated Mass in the church of the Holy Family with the small Christian community there.
I am Steven Breslin, the Catholic Archbishop of the Diocese of Cape Town in South Africa.
The Holy Land Coordination is a group of Bishops who come to the Holy Land every year in January. This year, we are 13 bishops from various different countries and our aim, of course, is to give support and to show solidarity to the small Christian community in the Holy Land and to make ourselves aware of the developments that are happening in the region.
We started our Holy Land Coordination this year by going to Gaza.
As it was a Sunday, we were invited to celebrate the Eucharist in the small parish church of the Holy Family. It was a very beautiful service and it’s wonderful to see that, even though the Catholic community is so minute in Gaza, nonetheless the faith is very, very strong and people are very committed to living their faith in very difficult circumstances.
What I found particularly touching this year was our interaction with young people – to listen to the great challenges they face and the many problems they experience in life.
One of the biggest problems is unemployment. There’s a massive unemployment rate in Gaza – about 47% – and that unemployment rate affects mostly young people.
The Christian community, being so small, experiences the hardship of unemployment in a very particular way. It’s so sad to see young people with such potential – so many talents and gifts – who are frustrated because they do not have the
opportunities to develop those talents.
So we reach out to them with our hearts. They are not a forgotten people.
God bless you.