Two Updates from the Project Peace Delegation to the Holy Land

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Latest Updates

Sr. Paulette’s Sept. 18 post from Bethlehem:

We made several important stops in Bethlehem today including that of coming to understand Palestine Kairos better and visiting Wiam which works to help reconcile people with each other when there are conflicts. What worked on my mind and heart most today though was the street activity.

Friday’s the prayer day for the Muslims, and during the last days the Israeli military is making movement onto the Palestinian mosque threshold. Palestinians know from experience that this means perhaps some of this famous mosque will be handed over to the Jews and will become a synagogue. Then Israel yesterday said that the soldiers have permission to now use live ammunition for anyone who has thrown a stone at them. This has enraged the Palestinians who don’t have any defense nor voice to raise their concerns.

We escaped the tear gas, but lots of young Palestinians did not. Tomorrow will be a tamer day.

Sr. Paulette’s Sept. 22 post from Hebron:

We’re on the last leg of our journey and what a journey it has been! The nine of us now pretty much seem like a family…I mean you’d find the fussing among us that you’d find in a natural family. Everyone is helping to lead the group it seems!

We interviewed an Israeli settler who presently lives in Efrat settlement. He was so congenial and hospitable to us,but when we began to question him about all the information we received from the U.N., from the research water rights group Arij, and after we had walked through the refugee camps and had talked with the people of the camp, this settler gentleman said what all these people had said are lies.

Now in Hebron, it is tense because a 17 yr old young Palestinian woman was killed today and just recently a whole Palestinian family was burned by the settlers and they all died. We are on the eve of a holy day for both the Jewish and the Palestinian communities. That makes it tense here with many more soldiers and settlers out on the streets. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but all the people could use a prayer.

In just 2 more days we will be heading home. So many of the Palestinians have begged us to come to their homes to eat with them. How I wish we could have time to enjoy all their hospitality.

I shall blog one more time yet before we leave this land which MUST become more “holy.”

Much peace!

Sr. Paulette

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Sr. Paulette reports back from Jerusalem – Day 2

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Sr. Paulette’s third annual delegation to Israel/Palestine arrived yesterday.  The nine travelers are beginning their trip in Jerusalem.  Here’s their first report:

Hello everyone from Jerusalem!

This is our second day and what  a day this was! First we met Sammie who heads the Pontifical Commission in the Holy Land! He showed us how the Christian numbers have gone down so immensely the last 15 years due to the Occupation of the Palestinian land. He showed us some hopeful movements by the churches, but the situation is still desperate.
Then we visited the Holy Sepulcher and the Ethiopian Community of monks and nuns  who live on the rooftop of this holy site.  How beautiful they are!
Of course we had a tasty Palestinian lunch and then began to make our way up to the Jewish Wailing Wall and over to the mosque where it is said that Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac. That mosque is HUGE and is made Of the tiniest glittering mosaic pieces on the outside.
From there we were bused to Mt. Olives.  From this high altitude we could see how the WALL is snaking around Palestinian villages to kind of strangle their way of living.
Oh we also got a young Woman who works for the Lutheran Church here to tell about Victoria Hospital  l on Mt Olives.—it takes in only kids and adults from Palestine who are suffering from cancer or  diabetes–good work!
How varied the people we met! How hard some groups work to keep Christians living in this land of Jesus’ birth!  How unjust to take away people’s land and their source of livelihood! How much faith and endurance it takes to live over here! ….I just keep learning so much….I wish you all could be here!
Much love always!

Paulette
Paulette

Our March Newsletter

shamrockHere are the opening words from our Project Peace Newsletter for March.  Please click on the link at the end to see the full newsletter.

Many Moments of Learning
It’s not quite here, but perhaps March has never been anticipated so keenly during my lifetime. This frigid February has brought about new feelings for me. I know I’m not the only person in this corner. The work of Project Peace has gone on—no “frozen” muscles here! January had emphasis on Guantanamo, and February felt like a training month for me. The children’s nonviolence skills classes went on whenever there were classes at Tiffin Middle School and Calvert, and I continued to teach about 6 classes of yoga each week as a great way to promote health and inner peace. Hopefully these classes have helped.

In addition, however, I experienced a great conversation with Ken Butigan from the national office of Campaign Nonviolence whose optimism and creative mind excited me to keep dreaming up new ways to promote nonviolence skills through the students. The work of Project Peace is never completed. I know this in a more profound way these days.

Then there was the transformation training for 35 of us Sisters here at St. Francis. This training centered on working through conflicts without judgment. All of us are urged to speak to each person as though for the first time and to always go to that person wanting to be influenced .
Exercising these two skills alone will wipe away biases and prejudgments before the actual encounter and will give great honor to the other person in conversation—even to the “enemy.”
I left these days of training so very GRATEFUL.  –Sr. Paulette

Download Newsletter March 2015

Delegation to the West Bank and Israel, 2015

Travel photo 1 We invite you to join us this fall! From Sept. 14-24 Project Peace of the Sisters of St. Francis, Tiffin, Ohio will lead their annual delegation to the West Bank and Israel to promote understanding, community, and friendship. Delegation Highlights

  • Meet with leaders of the nonviolent resistance at Bi’lin
  • Learn about the Israeli Occupation from both sides of the Wall
  • Meet with the Rabbis for Peace and a representative from the Knesset
  • Stay at the Tent of Nations, Bethlehem, to witness settlements
  • Meet with leaders from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths
  • Work with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron
  • Possibility of visit to Gaza
  • Visit the Baka Valley to understand the importance of water to the region

Travel photo 2Price of the delegation is $2500-$2800 and includes flight from Ohio, accommodations and meals, and transportation on the ground. If you are interested or have questions, please contact Sister Paulette Schroeder at 419-447-0435 ext. 136 or pauletteosf@hotmail.com Download flyer: West Bank Flyer 2015 2

Bishops Call for Human Dignity as Basis of Peace…in the Holy Land, Jan. 2015

We came to pray with and support the Christian community and to promote peace and human dignity in this divided land.We witnessed the tragic consequences of the failure of both local and international politicians to advance peace. Human dignity is given by God and is absolute. The ongoing conflict assaults the dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis, but in a particular way our commitment to the poor calls us to lift up the suffering people in Gaza. A year ago, we called Gaza “a man-made disaster, a shocking scandal, an injustice that cries out to the human community for a resolution.” In the wake of the terrible destruction caused by last year’s war, our presence reminded the small Christian community that they are not forgotten. Many tens of thousands of families in Gaza lack adequate shelter. In the latest freezing weather, at least two infants died of exposure. The continuing blockade dramatically impedes rebuildingand contributes to desperation that undermines Israelis’ legitimate hope for security. It also creates intolerable levels of unemployment and pushes ordinary people into deeper poverty. Despite the devastation, the appalling scenes of destruction we saw, and the fears of another war we heard, hope is alive in Gaza. We saw families resolutely rebuilding their lives. We witnessed a small Christian community that has enormous faith. We admired the tenacity of many volunteers. We visited Holy Family School where Muslims and Christians study and play together in harmony. We met with the Holy Rosary Sisters, who true to their co-foundress Marie-Alphonsine, to be canonized a saint this year by Pope Francis, exercise a prophetic ministry of education. We celebrated Mass with the Sisters of the Bethlehem Carmel. Their foundress Mariam Baouardy, another Palestinian whose life testifies to the holiness that still emanates from this Land, also will be canonized. Political leaders must defend the human dignity of the people in Gaza. One student poignantly told us that he received an email during the war asking if he needed food or clothing or shelter. Without bitterness, he replied that what he needed was dignity. People of good will on both sides of the conflict want the same thing, a dignified life worthy of the human person. In the coming months we will continue to oppose the building of the proposed wall in the Cremisan Valley. It would result in the loss of the lands and livelihoods of many Christian families. This situation is tragically a microcosm of the reality of the land issue. We will also continue to oppose expansion of the settlement program, illegal under international law, which we witnessed acutely in Hebron. Its impact on the freedom of movement of Palestinians and the confiscation of lands is simply unjust. After the failed negotiations and ensuing violence of 2014, we urge public officials to be creative, to take new approaches, to build bridges, not walls. We must humanize the conflict by fostering more interaction between Israelis and Palestinians. Peace will only come when all parties respect the fact that the Holy Land is sacred to three faiths and home to two peoples. Aware that this year we walk in the footsteps of Pope Francis, we take to heart his recent statement to the Diplomatic Corps: “My thoughts turn above all to the Middle East, beginning with the beloved land of Jesus which I had the joy of visiting last May, and for whose peace we constantly pray. We did this with extraordinary intensity, together with the then President of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, inspired by a confident hope that negotiations between the two parties will once more resume, for the sake of ending violence and reaching a solution which can enable Palestinians and Israelis alike to live at last in peace within clearly established and internationally recognized borders, thus implementing the ‘two state solution’.” The path to peace demands respect for the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians. Our prayer nurtures the hope that makes peace possible. We call on all Christians to pray for the Jews, Christians and Muslims of this Land we call Holy. Bishop Stephen Ackermann, Germany Archbishop Stephen Brislin, South Africa Bishop Raymond Browne, Ireland Bishop Peter Bürcher, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden Bishop Oscar Cantú, United States of America Bishop Christopher Chessun, Church of England Bishop Michel Dubost, France Archbishop Ricardo Fontana, Italy Bishop Lionel Gendron, Canada Bishop Felix Gmur, Switzerland Archbishop Patrick Kelly, England and Wales Bishop William Kenney, England and Wales, COMECE Bishop Declan Lang, England and Wales Bishop Kieran O’Reilly, Ireland Bishop Thomas Maria Renz, Germany Archbishop Joan Enric Vives, Spain

Visit Israel/Palestine with Project Peace

Project Peace will be leading a delegation to the West Bank from May 5-15, staying first in Jerusalem to explore and interview Peace Activists: both Jewish and Palestinian. From there we’ll travel to Bethlehem, stay with Palestinian families, explore the area, study the WALL, interview organizations trying to deal with the Occupation, and then travel to Hebron where we’ll stay with the Christian Peacemakers while interviewing, visiting with Palestinians, hopefully meeting the settlers and the soldiers. I’m hoping to be able to travel right up to the border of Gaza also and visit the Jewish city affected by the quassam rockets. From there it’s back to Jerusalem or Bil’in, the little town resisting the Occupation and the Wall being built on their land. From there it’s HOME. I hope you’ll each consider the possibility of making this journey. The price will be between 2500-2800 dollars including air fare, and all accommodations, tips, etc. Much peace to each of you. Paulette

ImageLast year’s delegation