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The schools of the Holy Land prepare to celebrate 800 years of Franciscan presence

A meeting was held to discuss the initiatives to be carried out in schools on the occasion of the 800 years of Franciscans’ presence in the Holy Land. This is why the central school office brought together representatives from all of the different schools. The meeting served as a way of coming together and reflecting, following the letter from the Custos of the Holy Land, addressed to the principals of the schools of the Custody, during the general assembly held in Nazareth in October. On that occasion, Fr. Francesco Patton had asked for activities to be carried out in the schools, in order to help students understand the importance of the Franciscans’ presence on the anniversary of the eighth centenary. So, on Friday, November 24, principals, leaders and representatives from every school of the Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jaffa, Haifa, Ramleh and Jericho, met.

“The Terra Santa Schools are part of the very history of our Franciscan presence in the Lord’s land, and it is that eight-century-long presence that we are celebrating,” said the Father Custos in Nazareth. The school principals started with Fr. Francesco’s very words. Every point that was made, suggested by the letter of the Father Custos, was important: from a reflection on the encouragement of the Universal Church, to the journey with the local Church, to the spirituality of St. Francis, to the challenges facing the schools, to the values that need to be transmitted to students and parents. After that, each principal spoke during the meeting.

Fr. Ibrahim Faltas, the director of the central school office for the Terra Santa Schools, which is located in Jerusalem, highlighted that the Franciscans’ mission in educational activities, aimed at reaching more than 7,500 students, is a challenge and a priority. In fact, the students represent the future of the Holy Land.

In the early afternoon, the participants were divided into groups to discuss how to maintain the identity of the schools and how to improve their quality. Toward the end of the day, ideas for how to carry out the celebrations for the 800- year anniversary in the schools, were discussed. The main initiative that was decided on was to organize an artistic and cultural competition for all of the schools. The competition will help choose the most beautiful logo, slogan, drawing, story, poem or film about St. Francis. Thus, there will be room for creativity so as to encourage even the youngest to be reflective. Within each school, there will then be a specific proposal connected to the life of the school itself.

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