The “Effeta” Institute held by the Sisters of St. Dorothy celebrated its 40th anniversary during a Mass presided by His Beatitude Fouad Twal in its chapel in Bethlehem, on October 22nd. It was also an occasion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the canonization of St. Maria Bertilla of the Sisters of St. Dorothy.
The foundation “Effeta Paolo VI” is a pontifical institute desired by Paul VI during his visit to the Holy Land in 1964. The Pope wanted a structure to help deaf children who did not benefit from any support. It was inaugurated in 1971, seven years after the Pope’s visit and entrusted to the Sisters of St. Dorothy, who have been serving in the Holy Land since 1927. They host and train these children to create an educational core incentive to conviviality and tolerance. The institute now houses about 150 deaf children each year who come from Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, Ramallah, Hebron or Jericho regardlelss of religions.
His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem was the main celebrant of the Mass attended by nearly 250 people. Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Franco, Bishop Kamal Bathish and more than a dozen priests concelebrated. Seminarians from Beit Jala served during the Mass and many members of different religious communities were present. In his homily the Patriarch repeatedly thanked the Sisters and the teaching staff for their dedication and generosity allowing deaf children an opportunity to experience a normal social life. Echoing the word of Jesus “Ephata!” quoted by the Evangelist St. Mark (7, 32-37), thePatriarch called everyone “to open”, noting that our vocation is to be in relationship with the Lord and our brothers.
At the end of the Mass, the Patriarch blessed the new logo of the Institute made up of glass and mosaic tiles, and made by children in connection with the Mosaic Center of Jericho. Everyone present was invited to watch a beautiful film about the Institute, and to enjoy a buffet inaugurated by Sr Pierra, director of the House, who symbolically cut the cake on which was marked “Congratulations 40.”