Papal Pilgrimage seen from Gaza
GAZA – May 24-26, 2014 – Not everyone obtained an exit permit allowing them to gather around the Holy Father for the Mass in Bethlehem. Fr. George Hernandez, Latin parish priest of Gaza, tells how the faithful left behind followed the Pope as much as possible during these three days.
During the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Holy Land, and despite all the efforts of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem to obtain exit permits so that all of us could travel and participate in the Mass celebrated by the Holy Father in Bethlehem, many Christians of the Gaza Strip were unable to travel. However, this occurrence could not prevent us from participating in the solemnity, thanks to the telecast by Telelumiere/Noursat Network. We gathered as one family in our church, dedicated to the Holy Family in Latin Convent, to tune in to the Mass celebrated by His Holiness and concelebrated by our Patriarch Fouad Twal and our Patriarchal Vicar, Bishop William Shomali and many others. We felt, through their prayers, as if we were there before the altar of the Eucharist.
We met that day in front of a T.V. screen, and spiritually, in heart and in faith, united with the Supreme Pontiff. We were very pleased to hear the Pope name the Gaza faithful, greeting and blessing us. We received the blessing through our spiritual communion with His Holiness, the Cardinals, Patriarchs, Bishops and clergy around him.
We are proud of Pope Francis, our spiritual leader. We are also proud of our Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the warm welcome he gave the Pope and his entourage, on the soil of our Palestine State.
So we participated in the celebrations as a small family, as Pope Francis himself said.
We keep the Holy Father in our prayers, because we love him. Nevertheless, we would have liked so much to see him in person, far from the persecution we experience, and receive his paternal blessing.
Father George Hernandez
Latin Pastor of Gaza