ASIA/HOLY LAND - Number of Christians in the Gaza Strip continues to dwindle

Monday, 29 February 2016

Gaza (Agenzia Fides) – The small Christian presence in Gaza Strip continues to dwindle: in recent months at least thirty young people decided to leave the land in which they were born to emigrate and funeral services are frequent as the old people reach the end of their life on earth. This is the story told by Rev. Mario da Silva IVI, parish priest of the Latin Catholic Holy Family church, in an interview with Andres Bergamini made public by the Communications Office of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. These departures – according to the report – reveal that there is little hope for short-term change, regarding a collective condition of international isolation , scarcity of jobs and persistent threat of new outbreaks of war
Christians still in the Gaza Strip number just over one thousand. And perhaps the condition in which they live enables them to recognise what can protect and fortify Christian hope in every situation. Accompanied by their parish priest, a member of the Institute of the Divine Word, young Christians and religious sisters go regularly to distribute food packages to families most in need. After a day of charitable activity Sister Milagro says: “We listen to the sad stories of people who are desperate and hungry: none have jobs, many are children in need of medical care. Poor dwellings have metal-sheet walls and roofs and no electricity and the Winter cold penetrates everywhere”.
The Latin Catholic parish has launched 12 projects to provide aid and other assistance. Multi-service halls, opened before Christmas (see Fides 30/11/2015), have regular parish oratory activities: prayer meetings, catechism classes, community recreation and games. Moreover the parish priest hopes that at least 5 young Christians from Gaza will take part in the next World Youth Day with Pope Francis, due to be held in Krakow, Poland, in July this year. Father Mario da Silva also hopes that on the occasion of Easter religious services entry permits for Jerusalem issued by the Israel authorities will include young Christians aged between 16-35 living in Gaza, usually excluded. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 29/2/2016).

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