Mar Elias Educational Institutions, P.O.BOX 102, Ibillin 30012, Galilee, Israel
Ibillin 18th Nov. 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Members of Ashray Group,
I used to send you an Annual Christmas Greeting; it was always a feeling of communion and of deep gratitude. This year it is somehow different, I am writing to you as a retired Archbishop. Indeed, I decided over a year and a half ago to retire and go back to my natural milieu. In fact I am most privileged to be back to Mar Elias Educational Institutions, where one never gets older but we mature constantly. I was pleased and grateful to give up the honor of being Archbishop. Every morning I open the entrance door of my residence, I see the trees, I see the small mountain behind the church, I see also the arrival of the students, and I pray “Thank you Lord for this day“. That is why I am writing to you, to say thank you brothers and sisters for your solidarity and, very specially, for your prayers. You have been and are still an important factor in my faith in peace. Among my dear dreams would be to see you again in Galilee. We always have a place for you. Our students are most happy to meet with you personally and have an exchange about the present and the future. In case it is difficult for you to come over, I would be most delighted to have a possibility to see you again whether in Europe or in America or in Australia or in Africa. Wherever you live, you contributed to form my dream, and for that, I say “Thank You”.
As a retired Archbishop, I have a full control over my days, not to say I am jobless. My office is open to anybody who comes, and many do come individually or in groups. I make sure that I have enough time to pray and read. What happier life, do you want for me, it is much more than I deserve, imagine me standing at the entrance of my residence, and watching literally the hundreds of cars coming every day, or very intensely so specially when it is a parents’ meeting. In fact, we create a travel jam that goes as far as the center of the village. For me, it is not merely a car phenomenon, but it is so many hundreds of parents, Christians and Muslims, Jews and Druze, who stream to the school. We are grateful, happy and anxious to give these people the best image of themselves being all alike: Born babies on the image and the likeness of God himself. Isn’t that the main message of Christmas: “Be not afraid, I bring you good tidings of great joy, a savior has been born to you“? This is what I wish to remind you very humbly. My dear brothers and sisters, do not stop witnessing the birth of “The Prince of Peace”, and please pray for us, here in the Holy Land, to hear the calling of the angels “Glory be to God in the highest and peace on earth to men and women on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14).
“Christ is born do praise him, Christ has come to our world, do glorify him”
Abuna Elias Chacour, Archbishop em. Of Galilee
Christmas Newsletter From Archbishop Elias Chacour 2013
It is indeed difficult to choose any title to express my admiration for your long-lasting fidelity and friendship to Mar Elias Educational Institutions in Galilee. With this message I want to wish you All, and every one among you, a very happy Christmas and a thoroughly joyful New Year. Allow me, for once during this year to assure you that what you have done through ASHRAY was far more, than a sign of solidarity, since it was indeed an act preserving life and allowing progress and development. We have gone through extremely complicated and cruel circumstances. Had we been left alone we might have given up on most, if not on everything. Your constant generosity sustained us and encouraged everyone at the school to persevere and continue telling the story, and of serving hundreds of young men and women and planting in their hearts the seed of hope, or rather awakening this hope despite the fact that many factors around us tried, and still try, their worse to kill hope in our youth.
Because of you and of your friendship and your generosity we continue with a unique power to believe that only unity within the respect of the present diversity could bring peace and justice to us all. Education is the best tool to achieve such a goal. We are sure that we shall overcome. Our vision will become a reality. Children, Jewish and Palestinians will start learning together one day in the near future.
For this coming Christmas we organize an inter-schools competition for children of our schools and it is broadcasted on the ‘Voice of Israel’ radio, every Wednesday afternoon. The final session will be on December 18th. This is the very first time that such extra-curriculum, activity has been organized. Maybe, the fact that the ‘Voice of Israel’ radio agreed to broadcast directly each session for one and a half hours, is in itself a sign of real hope for religious plurality inside the state of Israel. Very much has still to be done on many important fields and levels as this religious activity. We are on the spot to act and to witness for this great, vision/dream, of ours.
Soon we will be celebrating the birth of Christ: Christmas and the New Year. We will be praying for you and thanking God for putting you on our way toward the Kingdom of heaven. Thank you. Thanks, so very much for your friendship and for your prayers, which I cherish so dearly, but also thank God and thank you for your continued commitment and your generosity.
Abuna Elias Chacour
Archbishop of the Melkite Church in Galilee
“We do not talk about reconciliation, we do it.” Archbishop Elias Chacour
ASHRAY is supporting Archbishop Chacour in building schools in Galilee and by other means to educate children of all races and religions in reconciliation through respect for each other brought about by close relations in the classroom and playground, forming friendships and recognising the need to strive for a common, just future.
ASHRAY is registered as a charity with HMRC. Gift Aid is applicable to all qualifying donations.