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