I have the pleasure herewith to send a letter, which expresses something from the depth of my heart to our friends at ASHRAY. It’s somehow late for Christmas, still we are living in the Christmas events, which were extremely special here in Ibillin. On the 22nd of December the school day was entirely a celebration of Christmas. We did not have one Christmas tree in the school, we rather had a Christmas forest. Each section of the school from nursery to high school celebrated Christmas with the parents.
The last and the most important Christmas celebration event took place in the Mosque of the village with an open invitation for everyone in the village to come and enjoy together for an evening about the birth of Jesus Christ as it is written in the Koran. The celebration was attended by more than 400 persons. It was glorious; it was a fulfillment of my dream since 52 years ago, when I arrived in Ibillin. Back then, I needed to buy a few chairs and a few pews for the Church to fill a desperate need for seating. I decided then to paint on the back of each chair the cross and the crescent. At the time, it confronted the community with a new message, but the fact was accepted. Now the invitation of the Mosque has been an endorsement of my dream to look at what unites us.
I wish you a very very Joyful New Year and much success. Many thanks to the friends at ASHRAY for the responsibility they took for themselves to be our friends and partners. I continue praying for all of you.
Abuna Elias Chacour
Archbishop em. of Galilee