Bishop Donal McKeown and international delegation of bishops to meet young Palestinians and Israelis in the Holy Land

Bishop Donal McKeown and international delegation of bishops to meet young Palestinians and Israelis in the Holy Land

"A key purpose of our pilgrimage is to remind the Christian communities in the Holy Land that they are not forgotten by their brothers and sisters in other parts of the world." – Bishop McKeown

Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, along with bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa will meet in the Holy Land over the coming days to promote dialogue and peace, while meeting young people.

This annual visit was set up 20 years ago at the invitation of the Holy See with the aim of visiting and supporting the Holy Land's local Christian communities as they experience the political and socio-economic realities of living in Israel and Palestine.

This year the focus of the bishops' pilgrimage will be on education and young people. It will involve a series of meetings and visits to promote the value of education for young people and the importance education has in building peace in the region. In addition to meeting students and young people from Gaza, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the bishops will also meet the Parents Circle - Families Forum, a body which brings together more than 600 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost a relation due to the prolonged conflict and who today, through various initiatives, support peace, reconciliation and tolerance.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem will also present to the bishops their aim to promote education as an instrument of peace and justice, followed by a series of visits to Christian schools administered directly by the Latin Patriarchate. In Emmaus-Qubeibeh, the bishops will visit a home for the elderly and will meet some young volunteers working there. Brother Peter Bray, Vice-Rector of the University of Bethlehem, will present the Qubeibeh Nursing Programme (QNP): a programme which offers job opportunities for young people in a largely rural area, with high levels of unemployment and many social and political problems.

This year the Holy Land Co-ordination 2018 will celebrate Sunday Mass on 14 January with the small Christian community in Gaza, followed by a visit to the House of Peace run by the Missionaries of Charity; a brief meeting with young Christians and a pastoral visit to the sick in the community.

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