Inauguration of “Mary, Mother of Hope Home” in Anjara

ANJARA – On Saturday, September 30, the “Mary, Mother of Hope Home” was officially inaugurated in the parish of Our Lady of the Mount in Anjara, Jordan.  This home welcomes boys and girls who are orphans or are in distressed family situations.

Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar in Jordan, officially opened the Home in the presence of Ms. Hala Bseiso Lattouf, Minister of Development, Bishop Emeritus Maroun Lahham, Mr. Falah Al-Swailmeen, Governor of Ajloun, priests and sisters of the Institute of the Incarnate Word whose apostolate is carried out with these young children.  A large crowd also gathered to take part in this festive event for this small town in the governorate of Aijloun (northern Jordan), with about 20,000 inhabitants.

During her speech, the Minister for Social Development reaffirmed the involvement of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in drawing attention to the efforts in the development of care facilities for vulnerable children and families.  She referred to King Abdullah’s steadfast commitment and the many accomplishments already made in the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed by Jordan in 2006.

Bishop Shomali thanked all who have contributed to this project: the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, Dr. Bertrand Ferrier and Madame Nathalie Ferrier of the Belgian Lieutenancy, the Portuguese Knight Tiago Teles de Abreu (who donated all the gifts he received for his wedding), Dr. Ursula Fuerst of the Order of St. Lazarus and the Jordanian benefactors, friends of Anjara. He highlighted the essential role of the Church in supporting and helping the most vulnerable in the Jordanian society. The bishop concluded with a farewell message to Father Simon Goliardo, the parish priest of Anjara (who is leaving for to work on other humanitarian projects) for his apostolate and service in the parish of Our Lady of the Mount in recent years and for his involvement in the project of the “Mary, Mother of Hope Home.”

Remy Brun

More picture here.

Syrian refugees in Mafraq: “the true face of the Church is not afraid of anything.”

JORDAN – After seven years as chaplain of the parish of Mafraq, north of Jordan, Father Francis tells us of his apostolate to Syrian refugees. Five years ago, and thanks to the Latin Patriarchate and its generous partners, he launched a school support program and various activities for this particularly disadvantaged population.

Interview follows.

 Can you tell us about the town of Mafraq and the context of your former parish?

The town of Mafraq is located 15 kilometers from the Zaatari camp in northern Jordan. It is heavily marked by immigration, following the Syrian conflict. Today, 90,000 Syrians live in Mafraq and more than 81,000 are living in Zaatari. It’s no longer possible to go to Zaatari as I have done several times, the Church has an apostolate to this Syrian population living in Mafraq, often it’s refugees with special permits to live in the city.

What mission does the Church have for this population?

Five years ago, however, we launched an apostolate to this population with the help of Caritas, a social arm of the Church. This was first achieved through providing school support for Syrian children, in the afternoon. Some thirty students from the parish have joined the project, offering Math, Arabic and Science courses. Each year, from October to June, we received an average of 300 children aged 6 to 14, in the afternoon, all Muslims. Various activities were added to this: sport, visits in the families … To carry this project, our support was the Blessed Sacrament. Every week we organized adoration.

What do you remember about the apostolate?

You cannot imagine how much good the young the students have received from their volunteering. It is a real concrete experience that speaks of the universality of the Church. The relations between Christians and Muslims in Mafraq are, on the whole, very good and one can say that relations of friendships have been established. For example, some Muslims warned me when they noticed an unusual movement in the church. It happened regularly that some also came to visit me. Voluntarily, I kept the door of the church open all the time. I believe that the true face of the Church is not afraid of anything. The apostolate of the Church is not just for Christians. That is our strength.

Interview conducted by Claire Guigou